Middle school concept, response to intervention, professional learning community, instructional decision making...sigh. When do we start focusing on the work instead of on trying to keep up with the most current name for doing the right thing for students? As our state moves closer to systemically embracing response to intervention (RTI), I think more and more about what that means for students and teachers in Fairfield, IA, specifically, for our middle school students and teachers.
What I have concluded is simple. All terms have basked in the educational spotlight in recent years for a reason. They all focus on the right work...doing what is necessary to ensure that all students are achieving at high levels. Richard DuFour, author of Whatever it Takes, lays out a system of reaching all students in three questions: 1) What is it we want students to learn? 2) How are we going to know when they have or have not learned it? 3) What are we going to do once we know they have not learned it? This basic framework defines the purpose of middle school teams and their work.
So, as you continue to slog through educational jargon, please do not get frustrated with the changing terms and new structures. Authors continue to process, innovate, re-structure, and re-package in order to keep schools focused on the right work. Remember, there is not vocabulary quiz, but rather the measure of our success is that of our students.
If you are interested in reading the article that prompted my reflection, please go to: http://www.amle.org/Publications/MiddleSchoolJournal/Articles/September2007/Article1/tabid/1496/Default.aspx