Greetings! In this week's column I am describing three key initiatives at the St. Johnsbury School that provide the foundation for powerful learning and teaching: RTI (Response to Instruction), professional teamwork, and PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support).

Our school operates with the RTI model that focuses on ensuring student success across the curriculum with effective instruction for all students and interventions for struggling students. RTI centers around highly effective initial teaching using research-based practices. This creates maximum opportunity for students to access learning right in the regular classroom. Teachers check in regularly on student understanding, systemically collecting student data. This student data will include any information on student achievement through periodic testing, student observation, and daily student work. Teachers do this to determine what students are understanding, where there are gaps or confusions, and who needs intervention or enrichment. They then use the data to plan instruction and support based on students' strengths and needs.

RTI represents a teamwork approach among classroom teachers, support teachers, special educators and paraeducators, and we have been working purposefully this year to build a culture of professional collaboration. We have adopted five guiding principles for teamwork. First is a focus on learning and ownership with team members continually asking, "How will our work contribute to student learning?" Second is an expectation of shared responsibility among team members, and third is a solutions-oriented perspective whereby team members engage in brainstorming, problem solving and professional reflection around the critical issues of teaching and learning. Fourth is a spirit of collaborative inquiry and positive thinking to build and sustain a team culture of inquiry, respect, safety and optimism. Last is a commitment to data-based decision making.

Our school also operates with the PBIS framework, a school wide approach to creating a positive, safe learning environment. Students earn paws-ative tickets for following the five school wide expectations. Tickets are traded in for tokens and collected until a target number has been reached. To celebrate student success, classroom and school wide celebrations are held. Throughout the school you will see catamount paws posted with five key paws-ative qualities that promote a sense of belonging and cooperation:

â?¢ R: Responsibility

â?¢ O: Outstanding Effort

â?¢ C: Citizenship

â?¢ K: Kindness

â?¢ S: Safety

In other words, St. Johnsbury School ROCKS!

I hope you are enjoying the Catamount Corner columns. St. Johnsbury School is indeed a very special place!

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