Monday, September 19, 2011

Giving children what they need...

I've been spending a lot of time this week thinking about "Giving a child what they need, when they need it."  Although it's been my personal philosophy for a few years, I was never bold enough to share it with parents (I mostly just said it in class).  I was inspired by a blog post that had an amazing story about a class lesson in different abilities and needs. (Please visit The Power of a Band-Aid for the complete lesson and impact.) 

I have children of all abilities (socially and academically) in my classroom.  This story came at the perfect time.  We had curriculum night this week and I could hear parents whispering about a few of my children with particular needs.  I decided that I needed to be BRAVE and BOLD.  I think sometimes, we can get worried about offending a parent, that we allow ourselves forget our primary role- educating and protecting the hearts of the children we serve.  I discussed Conscious Discipline as our method of management and explained the concept of interventions (altering the curriculum to meet the child at their current level in a small group).  I described the structure of the 1/2 hour block and that other students were working in pairs on reinforcement games and activities (again, differentiated).  A few parents made a face when I said that I wasn't directly teaching at all times.  I quickly assured them that their child will get exactly what they need when they need it, whether it be support or more of a challenge.  There was a collective sigh of relief.  I am working for THEIR child and figuring out what THEIR specific need is for that day.

Last year in kindergarten, we fully embraced the concept of "they are all our children".  We exchanged children to make small groups from all 4 classes during intervention block time.  I plan to carry it through in first grade.  It will be an adjustment with a new team.  We will have to learn to trust each other completely and that can take time.  Nothing happens over night.  Basically, we had four teachers, plus an academic support person all meeting with small groups, while the bulk of the classes were working at stations independently (pairs).  We kept careful notes on our groups and moved students in and out as needed.  It gave us plenty of documentation if we needed to bring the student further into the RTI process.  Here is an organizational chart that we used (names have been changed- don't worry).  I actually plugged in 1st grade standards in preparation for this year!  This only shows what the teachers were working on with students.  The academic support person had a separate schedule that only had her assigned students listed (the students changed by the week, as some goals needed less time).

It may seem complicated, but once we were organized and prepared for the small groups, it worked wonders!  We shared students across the rooms (the students' home classrooms are not listed, but we did have it on there).  We were working smarter for our students and getting more interventions done by working together.


  1. WOW! That is some amazing intervention plan you have there! Love It!

  2. This is a wonderful post. Would you mind if I copy and paste on our school blogger.?