RTI teachers are another caring adult to address students’ needs
January 30, 2023
The following article was written by Julianne Reynoso, Ed.D., assistant superintendent of Student Support Services in Pasadena USD.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how many more articles I am inclined to read that highlight that our teachers are leaving the classroom because of student behaviors. It is difficult to imagine losing amazing teachers.
According to a recent article featured in EdSource, “In the wake of distance learning, many students and teachers were relieved to return to school and some semblance of normalcy. But it hasn’t been easy. Teachers say they are struggling to teach students who are disengaged or exhibiting serious behavior problems. School and district administrators sometimes offer little support, according to teachers. Some teachers cite discipline issues as a factor for leaving teaching or retiring early.”
Throughout the 2021-22 school year, we noticed a slight rise in student behavior issues across our district. Yet our amazing teachers and students showed up every day to get an education. We felt it was time to equip our sites with more support. Our district is committed to finding viable and sustainable structures that retain our teachers and improve their daily interactions with students. In the Pasadena Unified School District, we have been tracking and witnessing the retention of our teachers and observing student behaviors and expectations. Furthermore, we realized that we needed to do more to provide more effective support for the classroom and to allow our teachers to make the most of their time, which is meant for teaching and learning, while also enjoying the opportunity to build relationships with their students.
As a result of all this observation, data analysis, focus groups and purposeful task forces, the Pasadena USD has decided to take the initiative of changing district policies and further adding more support to our classrooms. During the 2022–23 school year, all of our 14 elementary schools will have an RTI/Wellness Teacher available to work alongside our classroom teachers and, more importantly, provide immediate opportunity to keep our students in school, learning.
We realized that we needed to do more to provide more effective support for the classroom and to allow our teachers to make the most of their time.
“When students are dysregulated, anxious or upset, there is now another caring adult on campus that can address their needs and has the time and space to help them feel safe and get them reintegrated into the classroom where they can learn,” shared Principal Erica Ingber at Longfellow Elementary.
We believe by structuring our elementary schools with this classroom support, we will not only improve student expectations and behaviors, but we will increase our attendance rate and decrease our absenteeism. We now will have additional adults to work with our students to improve our relationships and school connectedness. We also want to acknowledge the opportunity of improving the social-emotional needs as we now have staff readily available to meet our staff and students’ needs.
Principal Rita Exposito stated, “I am looking forward to our RTI teacher forming an integral part of a social-emotional learning team focusing on multi-tiered approaches for student intervention. Our goal will be to intentionally equip students with coping strategies and behaviors to strengthen them emotionally and provide them with the social skills they need for success in school and in life. The RTI teacher will be crucial to strategically instructing our students as other members of our team engage in small group therapy, individual counseling and checking-in services meant to build positive relationships with our students. We need people to do the work, and a team effort will provide the essential elements forming a strong social-emotional learning program at Jackson Magnet. The RTI teacher will be essential to our success.”
All in all, the Pasadena Unified School District will invest in the most important place in our district: the classroom. Our teachers and students deserve the very best every day to ensure that their experience is one of meaning and purpose.
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