I plan to have a number of systems in place in my classroom that will indicate to my students my high expectations of them. There will be predictable things like anchor charts around the room with those messages that will set the tone (I love the idea of a No Excuses List, from Teaching My Friends).
I also think simple routines like this “I’m done” jar can indicate to students that we are in school to work. Have fun, make friends, create, and do work. I believe one of the contributing factors to the challenges I had with classroom management during my clinical practice was not providing enough opportunities for my quicker students to go above and be challenged. I also found I was writing “You can do better” as feedback for more than one student. Having high expectations from the start of the school year will hopefully make it so I don’t have to do that late in the year.
It will be imperative to be on the look out for any of my kiddos who need some extra help meeting those high expectations. Response to Intervention is a strategy for catching those kids who may fall behind and giving them the extra support they need to be as successful as their peers. It works as a three-step approach. The first step is general class instruction, which should be of a caliber that meets the needs of about 85% of the students. The second step is a bit of extra support for the 15% for whom the general instruction is not sufficient. That extra support generally manifests as more intensive small-group work, sometimes in-class, sometimes as a pull-out. My ELLs during my clinical practice had a specialist who came into our class and supported them as needed, but my math-focus students were briefly pulled out each morning to practice skills as a small group. The third step of RTI is the most intensive, individual interventions, including referrals to special educators.
An important point of RTI is the family involvement; the parents of students in my class who had intervention plans came in for a monthly meeting not just with my mentor teacher, but also with the resource teacher with whom their child also worked.
I hope to work in schools similar to the school I did my clinical practice in for the feeling of community it had. A number of resource teachers were in and out throughout the day, supporting their friends but also helping any student who may need it. Those extra eyes enrich the conversations about students who may be at risk, and when combined with assessments of the quality of work the student is turning in, or even of other early indicators like a regression of handwriting skills, I hope to be able to quickly intervene with any student who needs it.