Parents and guardians are students’ first teachers and biggest advocates. When students are in need of intervention, their parents can play a vital role in expediting success. RTI teams should include parents in the intervention process from the beginning. Here are a few ways to inform, include and leverage parent and guardian expertise during the RTI process.
Ensure that parents know who the RTI team is, the nature of the team’s work and how to contact the team if the parent has a concern. This can be done during a variety of times in the year. Set up a booth at open house, parent conferences or school events so that parents can become familiar with the work of the team. When RTI team members know families, it can make collaborating much more comfortable and efficient. Use an RTI information sheet to summarize the work of the team.
If your school has an active website, create an RTI page that helps parents navigate the RTI process. Include documents that explains the school’s RTI protocol, gives RTI team contact information and lists resources and interventions that parents can use at home.
Parents deserve to know that a teacher has referred their student to receive extra support. Call the parent and explain the nature of the meeting invitation, and send home a detailed letter invitation that outlines the purpose and agenda of the meeting. Give parents sufficient notice to attend the meeting, and be flexible in case a parent can’t physically be presented by allowing them to call in or attend virtually. Additionally, collect information from the parent before the meeting to assist with the efficiency of the meeting.
At meetings, don’t just talk at parents. Allow them to contribute useful insight and ideas when building student plans. They should also be permitted to ask clarifying questions they have about their student’s needs.
There may be vital information about a student’s academic, behavioral or social history that may benefit the RTI team. However, this information may be challenging to communicate without prompting or in a big group. Have the school social worker meet with a parent to gather useful history starting at the student’s birth to contribute to the development of appropriate planning.
Have interventionists and RTI team members present at report card conferences for students receiving or in need of intervention. Show parents student data and clarify how a student is progressing or declining. Use the time to make suggestions of interventions parents can continue at home to support the student or to suggest an RTI meeting to further develop an student learning plan.
Have special events parents can attend to learn more about student challenges and RTI strategies that support these needs. These sessions can leverage and build parent expertise. Parents can build community with each other and feel more confident in the school’s dedication to help students with unique needs. These events can be centered around a variety of topics such as reading strategies, organization supports, attention needs, etc.
Let parents know that you notice and appreciate the work they do to support their child. Help parents to remember that they aren't alone, and that you support them. This can look like a phone call to thank them for doing an intervention at home, a text message to highlight how much their student has grown or an award for being a supportive partner throughout the year. Showing small gestures of appreciation may go a long way.
RTI teams can do great work together, but in collaboration with parents, the work is much stronger. Take the time to think about ways to include all parents and guardians to increase the RTI team’s effectiveness.
Here at Kickboard, we have helped schools develop and improve Response to Intervention systems using our mobile app, web platform and professional development services. Subscribe to our blog to learn more about how to develop RTI processes and run efficient meetings that promote student growth.