July 20, 2016
ESU 10 afforded me yet another wonderful learning opportunity in early April. I attended the ASCD Conference in Atlanta as well as a pre-conference called Causes and Cures in the Classroom. This two-day pre-conference was based on the book by Margaret Searle and she was also the presenter.
Her material is a guide for all educators. It is a problem solving process that can be applied to any behavior or academic problem at any grade level. Searle uses research from the academic and neurological domains. The five-step protocol she suggests will lead a team from observing a problem to identifying root causes and planning interventions. The workshop and the book deal specifically with individual student issues but the process can be used with problems at the school and district levels. Following is a summary of the protocol:
1. Know the traits of the student or group to be supported. This includes not only concerns about the student but also student strengths. This gives a team baseline data that is balanced and will help the team determine the best way to measure effectiveness of an intervention.
2. Analyze the root causes. The “Five Whys” questioning technique is used to go beyond symptoms and get to the root causes.
3. Set clear and measurable goals. When specific goals are set the action plan will be more focused and growth can be better monitored.
4. Decide how to monitor and chart the student’s progress. This step will help the team make informed decisions on whether or not to adjust or continue with the action plan.
5. Compose intervention options and select a plan. There is a template to be used that allows for parents, the student, and faculty to work together to select research-based ideas that will address the root causes.
I was very impressed with the simplicity of the protocol. In other words, I feel the process is easy to follow and makes sense, however, it requires a team to work diligently together. It requires a team to ask tough questions to dive deeper into what the root causes are and to spend time to find new approaches for addressing the student’s needs. I truly believe that no matter what content area or grade level you teach you and your team will see how this process can make a difference in the life of a student.
I plan on sharing this information with the MTSS team, our Instructional Coaches Cadre, and eventually working with schools so they can maximize their potential in serving their students.
-by Susan Evans, Teaching and Learning Coordinator