Being an interventionist is hard. Harder than many people think. From the outside, an interventionist “has it easy.” You probably have an office instead of a classroom. You work with small groups of students instead of classes of 20 – 30. You go to a lot of meetings instead of spend time in the classroom. You don’t have the pressures of testing, parents and administrative evaluations hanging over your head.
Truth is, all of those points I mentioned above are nothing more than misconceptions. Yes, you probably have an office instead of a classroom. But that office is filled with data, research materials, books and resources to help students and teachers grow. Yes, you work with small groups of students instead of large classes, but those students are always struggling learners. You rarely get to work with the children who excel. The students you work with are constantly cycling, so you also rarely get to form quality relationships with them. Yes, you go to a lot of meetings that sometimes pull you from the classroom, but those meetings can be long – and let’s face it, full of lots of data. You’d rater be working with the students. And pressure? Let’s talk about pressure. If you aren’t performing, you could easily be removed from your position. The test scores of the students you work with won’t reflect on you on paper – but they will in the eyes of the teachers and the admin in your school. You were put in this position to help students succeed. To help them grow. To help them overcome and fill in gaps from YEARS past.
The good news? Being an interventionist can be incredibly rewarding when done right. When everything aligns and intervention works like it was designed to, everyone grows. Everyone succeeds and everyone can see their own unique purpose = students and teachers alike.
- They know their purpose. It can be easy to let the opinions of others dictate how you feel about your own job.
Effective interventionists have a solid understanding of why they were put in their position and how they are going to best serve the teachers and students in their building. They work hard to achieve the goals they have set for themselves and the growth goals they have set for the students they work with.
- They plan. Each day as in interventionist is different. Effective interventionists have solid plans. They know exactly who they are going to work with each day and what they are going to do. They stick to the plans. Obviously, things pop up and plans can change – but adjustments should be made in the best interests of the students. Having an intervention binder is huge for planning. Binders allow for interventionists to keep track of who they are working with, how those students are progressing and provide a wealth of resources to use on any topic in their intervention area.
- They know their students. As I mentioned above, the students an interventionist works with constantly change. Effective interventionists need to know every single student they work with – or may work with in the future. They are not an stranger to any child. They are visible in the classroom, in the hallways and around the school. The struggling students are their “niche market” so those students are the ones an interventionist really needs to get to know the most. Interventionists who span multiple grade levels have a tough job here – but it is a job worth doing well.
- They know their teachers. Some teachers like to work alone. Some like to co-teach. Some plan really well for an interventionist who comes to assist and some fly by the seat of their pants. Effective interventionists know their teachers. They know what each teacher is comfortable with. They work with them, and their teaching styles, to provide the support needed to the proper students while not stepping on the toes of the classroom teacher.
- They use and generate data. Constantly. Effective interventionists are probably data hounds. They have to be. Data is constantly coming in from assessments and it is important for that data to not only be generated, but used. Since intervention is for the purpose of working closely and intensely with students who are struggling, it is important for interventionists to make their decisions based on data. Which students get pulled for intervention? That decision comes from data. Which skills are worked on next week? That decision comes from data.
- They constantly re-evaluate their goals and schedule. The number one goal of an effective interventionist should be to help students grow and help them improve their scores. This means revising your schedule as students grow out of the range for intervention services. Ramping up intervention sessions as testing approaches. Working with more teachers if more classes seem to be struggling – or fewer if more seem to be succeeding.
If you are stepping into a new intervention position this year – congratulations! You have such an opportunity to make a huge difference. Never forget the purpose of your job. It’ll be tough for sure, but you’ve got this!