Posted on 10/20/2017 at 11:27 AM by Blog Experts

When I came upon a blog post "The Power of Quality Tier 1 Instruction" written by Annie Palmer, I noticed myself nodding to myself in agreement of what the author was saying. I've been in a lot of schools, I've talked to a lot of educational consultants.  Too many teachers (not all) are too quick to jump to Tier 2 Tier 3 interventions without stepping back at looking at their Tier 1 instruction.  And that's the first place we should look, while looking at Tier 2.  Make this a point to talk about Tier 1 when in collaboration meetings (or whatever you call them) if it's not a part of the conversation already.

Below is the blog post The Power of Quality of Tier 1 Instruction by Annie Palmer. 

A reflection of a former classroom teacher:

I wish I would have known more.  I wish I would have known more about the volume of reading. I wish I would have known more about small group instruction in tier 1.  I wish I would have known more about the five components of reading. I wish I would have known more about teaching meta-cognitive strategies.

I wish I would have known the importance of first focusing on tier one instruction when contemplating how to best meet the needs of  students on the "bubble."

In chapter 7 of Jennifer Allen's book, Becoming a Literacy Leader, she discusses the power of tier one instruction, outlining the approach her school took to address the needs of bubble kids.  As opposed to outlining the approach, I will instead focus on two powerful sentences in the chapter.

  1. My hope was that student achievement would improve if we focused more energy on supporting classroom  instruction as opposed to  putting all of our resources toward supporting individual students (Allen, p. 128).
  2. In their research, Allington and his colleagues demonstrate how students benefit from long, uninterrupted chunks of learning time as well as from consistent instruction from high quality teachers. Yet our neediest kids tend to have the most segmented days, being shuffled from intervention to intervention (Allen, p 128).

I have been a part of many discussions and teams concerning Response to Intervention.  Let me first say, I commend all the teams I have worked with as they try tirelessly to help our struggling readers and writers.  There have been so many collaborative discussions about targeted instruction and tier two support.  And, all of this is valid.

However, let us be real and know that sometimes, or more aptly, most times, we skip a key component of Response to Intervention: solid, research-based instruction by the classroom teacher in tier one.

So, when considering our "bubble" kids, let us start with this: "How do we provide professional support for all of our classroom teachers.  Because the better their craft is, the less kids we have on the "bubble."  The result of this: 1) Solid, research-based instruction benefits all kids of all levels. 2) Solid, research-based instruction will prevent a great number of kids from falling into tier two intervention, thereby allowing us more time to provide targeted instruction to kids who do fall in tier two instruction.

So, to new teachers, I say study your craft as much as possible.

To veteran teachers, I say guide discussions that focus on tier one instruction first, then tier two.

To coaches, send this message over and over again--we need to devote as much time and finances we can to developing the teacher.

Administrators, provide that time to build the craft of your teachers in tier 1, while also supporting tier two and three.

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