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Camas, WA 98607

An educational company providing resources for teachers, therapists, and other support staff focusing on collaboration and intervention strategies for preschool and school age students.

Staff Chat

Brief, informative lessons to share with staff and students.

Physical Therapy: Shifting to the Classroom

Debra Em

Today a physical therapist called me from Ohio wanting to know more about our products, but what she really needed from me were some insights that I’ve gained from doing what I do for the last twenty years. She was a therapist making the huge shift from clinical practice to educational practice in schools. She told me that she was the ONLY physical therapist for the entire district and was spread really thin. Let’s call our therapist Amber. Amber said that the teachers seemed to want to know what they could do in the classrooms for all the students to improve foundation skills. But how was she going to reach all these teachers and satisfy the IEP goals for her huge caseload? It was interesting. Do you know where my mind went to help Amber create a framework? It went to sharing about the Response-to-Intervention model (RTI). RTI was designed as an alternative to the discrepancy model used to determine if a child qualified for special education services. With RTI, methods of intervention are validated and data collected prior to referring a child for special education testing. Though some report RTI working well, for others it’s a mixed bag depending on how it is being implemented.

What if we could use RTI personally? Let’s call it the RTI-P model. During our conversation, I found myself explaining to Amber how RTI models work and personalizing the model for her. She got off the call with clarity and new tools to help guide her as she navigates her new position.

Today’s thought is, “How can we use RTI-P to organize our jobs and caseloads?” Think in terms of tiers. RTI has three tiers. The first tier includes interventions and strategies we can use with all students in the classroom. The second tier includes modifications we need to make for small groups of students who are having difficulty with the class-wide strategies. The third tier focuses on individual strategies for the most involved students.

In your caseload, what students do you have that you could support in the classroom setting, Tier 1? Are there opportunities for you to present some strategies during staff meetings or on PD days to support teachers and students in the classroom?

Now think about Tier 2. What students need small group support either in the classroom or within designated smaller group environments?

And finally, Tier 3. What students are very involved and need your one-on-one, hands-on support?

While we wait for the powers that be to create a global RTI system that works for our districts, let’s create our own personal RTI-P system that works for us.

Once you create your own personal framework, then you can figure out what materials or products will help you reach your goals, but first create your RTI-P framework.

Let me know if the RTI-P makes sense to you and how you’ve used it to be more effective in your job and less stressed!

Download the S'cool Moves RTI Model HERE