Intervention strategies – additional targeted strategies (such as remedial instruction, differentiated curriculum and scaffolding) that are implemented when learning gaps put a student at educational risk.
Every teacher is responsible for monitoring and assessing the progress of their students so that action can be taken if any issues are identified. If a student misses an instruction or does not understand part of a task, learning might come to a halt unless the teacher intervenes. These types of interactions are the ‘bread and butter’ of the modern teacher, and most issues are easily and quickly addressed. Intervention strategies can range from a few minutes of one-on-one support to long-term, scheduled remedial instruction.
Most interventions are teacher-led, short-term or one-off actions that address the issue quite easily and quickly.
In some cases, the standard support mechanisms that teachers rely on fail to adequately address the growing gaps in an individual’s development and progress. When these gaps are identified, something must be done to arrest the widening and expanding gap between where the teacher wants the students to be and where they actually are. Intervention strategies are implemented when the teacher determines that a concerted effort is required to address a potentially serious learning-related issue. Often these issues are systematic, they have been present for some time, they are related to core foundational skills, they are highly specific, and they are unlikely to be resolved without targeted additional support.
Intervention strategies can range from a few minutes of one-on-one support to long-term, scheduled remedial instruction.
In most cases, students fall behind for reasons that are not overly concerning and a basic intervention is all that is needed. This may be in the form of a few one-on-one sessions with the teacher to ‘catch-up’ to the rest of the class. Students fall behind for a myriad of reasons such as short-term absenteeism, trauma, issues at home, grief from the loss of a loved one, illness, injury, or if they simply ‘don’t get’ a topic. Sometimes a new peer group or even a new teacher can result in a temporary drop in performance.
Most interventions are teacher-led, short-term or one-off actions that address the issue quite easily and quickly. However, some interventions are large-scale, government directed, systematic programs complete with additional resources such as specialist teachers.i These types of programs are a key ally of governments who have pledged to improve students’ literacy rates. Such programs are usually tiered systems that begin with minor teacher interventions and progress to higher levels of more concerted action for more serious problems. A typical intervention program may follow a procedure like the one listed below.
Hint: a Response to Intervention (or RTI) is an approach that categorises students in one of 3 tiers and is shown as a pyramid. Most students fit into the bottom tier and no intervention is required other than good teaching practice. The middle tier is where targeted intervention occurs. This usually means some form of intervention is provided (such as additional tutoring) in the hope that the student will move back to the bottom tier. The top tier is for students who have serious issues in their learning and require more long-term efforts.
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and an author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of Fast Track Training Australia, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
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