Nearly 900 EPISD administrators and teachers gathered this week at Region 19 Head Start to learn from and collaborate with world-renowned professional development experts on Response to Intervention.
Response to intervention, normally abbreviated in education as RTI, is an approach to academic intervention to provide early, systematic and appropriately intensive assistance to children who are at risk of or are already underperforming in comparison to other students who may be at grade- or age-level standards.
“Our teachers and administrators are getting solid content that will make a difference in the lives of our children and our children deserve it,” Kathy Seufert, director of Staff Development, said. “We’ve gotten really good feedback.”
The two-and-a-half day conference, which started Wednesday, offered hands-on training activities and interactive keynotes on how to build a timely, targeted and systematic intervention program.
Dr. Tamekia Brown, executive director of academics, was instrumental in bringing the conference to EPISD. She said the techniques and lessons learned by teachers over the conference will be instrumental in helping struggling students become successful learners.
“The question we are asking ourselves throughout this conference is: “What do we do when our students don’t learn?'” she said. “So what we will do is learn to create better systems in our schools to facilitate the process of responding when our kids don’t learn the way we know is most beneficial for them.”
Each day features keynote speakers and in-depth breakout sessions for different grade levels and topics by experts from Solution Tree, a
Bloomington, Ind.-based company which delivers comprehensive professional development to schools and districts around the world.
“This is one of the biggest conferences we’ve done for a single district,” said Jeff Jones, chairman and CEO of Solution Tree. “One of the benefits is that the entire district now understands intervention strategies that we teach (at conferences nationwide), so they don’t have to go back to explain it to everyone from school to school. We have teams from every school here which will expedite the whole process.”
Jones summarized the conference by explaining the four core learning questions taught during sessions:
“The first is what do we want kids to learn — not what do we want to teach them; the second is how are we going to know if they are learning, which is common assessment; the third is what do we do if they don’t (learn it), which is the critical piece for student achievement, that’s response to intervention; and the last question is what do we do if they’ve already learned it, so we don’t let those kids just sit and get bored in school.”
Jones added: “So the Response to Intervention strategy is after we understand what kids don’t know, what do we do to help them.”
He also praised the EPISD educators for their commitment to learning the strategies and working together with their respective school team for the benefit of their students.
“The educators were prepared for this conference,” Jones said. “They knew what they were coming to. Everyone was pretty well prepared by the school district on what it is they were going to learn and how they would benefit.”