Today my sophomore collaborative team hosted struggling students to review strategies for making inferences during our school’s newly established tutorial RTI (response to intervention) period. So today I essentially taught an extra class with extra students (not my students) with no extra pay or time to prepare.
I will definitely be working with our negotiations team to ensure that teachers are somehow compensated for this extra workload that so far has born nothing but more work for teachers in our district–and by compensation, I don’t necessarily mean money. Maybe it’s providing time. Or maybe it’s fitting this new period into the daily class load language. Ultimately, it is a problem that needs to be addressed by the district–and we teachers are more than willing to be partners in finding solutions that work for our students because this current way just isn’t cutting it.
The research behind RTI periods shows them as being far from a magic bullet for identified kids. Our local data has been hit and miss as well. I wish that the data really did show that his helped our lowest achieving students, but so far all it has done is show me what I already knew about these students–that they need extra help. Yet I can only offer that help based on an assessment of a specific skill at this time. I can’t pull students into work with them on their essay this week. Or to work on close reading skills. Or to give them time to make up that test they missed when they had the flu. This time is so strictly targeted that it’s limited in the help it offers.
I would still recommend that each of these students seek guidance from tutors outside of school. I would recommend for those that qualify for study skills classes to take them. Yet here were are spending 60 minutes per week (that’s approximately 2,400 minutes per instructional year) focused on this narrow sliver of students. This week my colleague and I are sharing 21 students identified as approaching (but not “meeting”–and yet not “not meeting” either) the standard for making inferences.
I had 12 students while my partner took the remaining 9. At the same time, the rest of our kids do f***all whatever else in another teacher’s room–a teacher who is basically assigned to babysit while they supposedly work on homework from their classes. These 12 students I am “tutoring” are not even my own students. My three students are part of my colleague’s 9. So when those kids come to me, I don’t know what their strengths or weaknesses are. I don’t know what behaviors to expect from them. I just try to cram 30 minutes of a new lesson on old material on them.
Ultimately, I wrote the lesson. I contacted all 21 kids telling them which teacher to report to for their lesson. I taught the extra lesson and the extra kids. And I did all of this without any recognition from my employer that this extra workload redistributes 2,400 minutes away from 96% of my students to work with this 4 % of kids with mixed results all while redistributing my planning time away from my regular class load as well.
I can only hope that the exhaustion I feel at the end of this day pays dividends because I’ve been going without a break all freaking day. I think I’ll just collapse into a comatose state for the rest of the evening and try not to think about doing this all over again come Thursday this week.
“A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles