Three Lessons on Intervention from Mike Mattos and Austin Buffum

One of the real treats of my work with Solution Tree as a Professional Learning Community Associate is being able to learn regularly from REALLY bright people.  Recently, I had the chance to hear Mike Mattos and Austin Buffum — two of the three minds behind the RTI at Work process — talk through some of the most important lessons that schools interested in intervention need to learn.

Here are three takewaways:

Tier 1 Intervention isn’t really an “intervention” at all.  

Instead, it’s ensuring that ALL kids have access to high quality initial instruction around essential grade level standards.  And the key here is that ‘all kids” means ALL KIDS — including those who are several grade levels behind or who are identified by special programs labels or who have limited proficiency with the English language.  If some students don’t have access to essential grade level standards or learning targets because they are in remedial classes that have different priorities, your school has an equity issue that needs to be addressed.

The essential question to ask for students who have fallen several grade levels behind ISN’T “Can kids master essential grade level standards?”

Instead, the essential question to ask is “what can we do to get kids to master essential grade level standards.” That shifts collective attention towards action.  Ensuring high levels of learning for all only starts when (1). we realize that we CAN move every kid forward and when (2). we readily call out the  flawed assumptions about students that define learning — and learners — in traditional schools.  

Notice that attention remains focused on ESSENTIAL grade level standards.

That word “essential” is powerful, y’all.  Our work becomes more targeted and more focused — and WAY more doable — when we identify a small handful of instructional priorities that we want our students to master.  If your learning team is trying to tackle EVERY grade level standard in your collaborative work with one another, you will become overwhelmed before you even begin.  Instead, work together to define the outcomes that matter the most and spend your collective energy assessing that learning and providing multiple opportunities for your students to master that content.

Any of this make sense to you?  More importantly, are these core beliefs a part of the work that YOUR PLC is tackling?  

If not, why not?

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Related Radical Reads:

Structuring Tier Two Interventions in a PLC

Interventions are NOT Optional

Grouping Students for Learning in a PLC