I was honored to spend three very full days with the incredible communities, educators, and students of Coast Mountains School District in Northern British Columbia, a district serving a very representative North American population of students – students with great assets and significant needs.
We talked nuts and bolts: How can the principles and practices of RTI transform teaching and learning. Among many breakthroughs, three significant accomplishments stood out:
- At Cassie Hall Elementary School, staff courageously reimagined the ways in which time and staff could be used to serve all student needs through: differentiated tier 1, intervention and enrichment to provide students more opportunities with core priorities within Tier 2; and immediate and intensive supports for students with significant deficits in the foundational skills of academics and behaviors. We also determined how this System of Supports would be systematically coordinated. Cassie Hall staff spent hours planning for research-based practices that they will employ upon the very beginning of the school year.
- Staff from Skeena Middle School and Caledonia High School identified two specific ways in which collaboration between the two schools will be terrifically enhanced. Content-alike teams from each school will be vertically articulating the most essential academic and behavioral skills that students in grades 7-12 must possess. They will also share the most effective instructional practices that lead to the greatest student engagement and student learning. The second important commitment that staffs from the two schools made related to the smooth and successful movement of students from the middle to the high school. The schools will be striving more than ever to ensure a productive social-emotional and academic transitions, through a greater knowledge of every student’s strengths and needs and superior supports and scaffolds for incoming high school students.
- Finally, this from a middle school math teacher, describing how she has transformed the mindsets and achievements of students in her class: She shared her strategies and practices and how she has established a positive classroom climate for learning. As she recently praised the class for their improvements and their attitudes, one student raised her hand and said, “Well you know why…it’s because of RTI.” True story.
The principles and practices of RTI are amongst the very most research-based in education. We know what to do; we must close the knowing-doing gap. Coast Mountains School District is leading the way.