Sometimes I think that teachers tend to be an authoritarian people. Many teachers seem to get into a mode “I have this material to cover, and I’m going to get through it, and they better pay attention and understand it.” A powerful interaction for me while team teaching a workshop was the number of times a colleague stopped me and asked the workshop members to participate and talk to each other. When I began teaching online, that also changed my teaching because I could write and write, but that didn’t mean the students read a thing. I had to figure out ways to become more of a coach or guide in the teaching process and make sure the students and I were engaged with each other. So I try to make sure I’m receiving feedback from and listening to students while I teach.
My experience suggests that special education teachers tend to be open-minded, tolerant people. There seems to be a sense that “the student may or may not be able to understand it, so I better be ready to try every trick in the book.” My opinion about teaching techniques is pretty simple, “the more the better.”
I do believe research-based techniques are crucial because anecdotal information can give teachers poor advice. I recall reading an article of teacher advice about using humor in testing. I thought that sounded great, and when I tried it, I my students did poorly. So I conducted a study—I was supervising 20 sections of the same communication course at the time and was responsible for writing the tests. The students with the tests using humor did significantly worse than the students without the humor. Then I started reading the literature—okay, it was too bad for my students that I did this backwards—and discovered that using humor in testing can be a serious distractor for students.
At the annual meeting of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, I asked the audience at my session—about half are already using RtI—How do you know what teaching strategies are research-based interventions? Someone said: “We were hoping you’d tell us.” Since then, I compiled the following list of teaching techniques for teaching students with special needs, which are considered effective based on research (Berk, Berk, & Castle; Pierce, Reid, & Epstein, 2004; Ryan, Reid, & Epstein, 2004; Salend & Sylvestre, 2005; and Vaughn, Kim, Morris Sloan, Hughes, Elbaum, & Sridhar, 2003).
The list is long and makes me wonder: “What interventions do not work?” Of course, it is hard to publish a study that shows something does not work, so that’s probably why it is hard to find that information. Also likely is that some strategies work for some students and not for others, and those research details are lost between the study and the classroom application.
I suspect any change in teaching techniques may work temporarily at least. Reschly (2007) said that a 10-20 week intervention period is ideal. Although Reschly did not mention this idea, but I suspect many interventions work temporarily, so the effectiveness needs to last ten weeks to be an effect caused by the intervention and not the change. Reschly did say that many interventions take 10 weeks to work. Students have long term change when an intervention works within that time frame. If it takes more than 20 weeks to bring change, the learning is not sustained long term. I am fascinated that most college courses fall within a 10-16 week framework, as if educators have long known something about that time frame. I have often felt that if I cannot succeed with a student by the end of 16 weeks, longer is not going to work. I am surprised sometimes, however, when I struggle with a student all term and somehow something clicks near the end of the course, and the student seems to understand the course content.
Do these research-based, effective teaching techniques work for all teachers, for all students, in all contexts? Of course not. The teacher has to know how to use the strategy the way it is intended and the effectiveness will depend on the individual learner’s needs. That fact makes me want to be judicious about what I try and how often I try the technique until I gain the skills I need in using the technique. I also need to think carefully about the individual student and the context implications while I use teaching techniques. I like the description of RtI that says to “try, evaluate, and try again, then evaluate, and try again.”
Aitken, J. E. (2007). Communicating about and with learners diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, Missouri.
Berk, M., Berk, L., & Castle, D. (2004). A collaborative approach to the treatment alliance in bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders, 6(6), 504-518.
Pierce, C., Reid, R., & Epstein, M. (2004). Teacher-mediated interventions for children with EBD and their academic outcomes. Remedial & Special Education, 25(3), 175-188.
Reschly, D. (2007). Response-to-intervention in prevention, disability identification and educational programming. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, Missouri.
Ryan, J., Reid, R., & Epstein, M. (2004). Peer-mediated intervention studies on academic achievement for students with EBD. Remedial & Special Education, 25(6), 330-341.
Salend, S., & Sylvestre, S. (2005). Understanding and addressing oppositional and defiant classroom behaviors. Teaching Exceptional Children, 37(6), 32-39.
Vaughn, S., Kim, A., Morris Sloan, C., Hughes, M., Elbaum, B., & Sridhar, D. (2003). Social skills interventions for young children with disabilities. Remedial & Special Education, 24(1), 2-15.
Yell, M. (2007). The IDEA 2004 amendments and regulations: Peer-reviewed research and progress monitoring. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders, Kansas City, Missouri.
This webpage has no affiliation with any organization, school, or institution.
To cite this page:
Aitken, J. E. (2007). Response to Intervention (RtI): Research-based effective teaching techniques. Kansas City, MO: ourwayit.com/RtI. Retrieved month day, year, from http://ourwayit.com/RtI