EAP 17: Marvin Prather – Navigating School Difficulties & Response to Intervention
On this episode of the Early Accountability podcast, our guest is Marvin Prather, an educator and intervention coordinator who spends his days working with kids who have math or reading deficits to get them up to grade level. Marvin has seen students make great improvements in their math and reading skills as well as their behavior in the classroom by partnering with the student’s classroom teacher to create a plan of action specifically for that student.
Typically, the first step in helping students in subject areas of deficiency is to put them in a small group of students to go over the subject matter to give each student more personalized attention and the ability to ask more clarifying questions if they do not understand. If this method does not show improvement after a few weeks, the classroom teacher will have a meeting with the student’s parents to discuss what has already been done to help their child and they will discuss together a plan for increased interventions, such as increasing small group time to 2-3 times per week or reducing the number of problems being presented for the student to solve. In most situations, Marvin has noticed measurable improvement within 2-3 months.
Marvin’s advice to parents is to talk to the child’s classroom teacher to see if there are any resources they can be using at home to help their child progress. Additionally, if the child’s teacher has contacted the parents to discuss their child’s behavior in school, it is likely that their behavior is linked to difficulty understanding some of the subject matter being taught, so this should be handled appropriately and consistently. Marvin’s advice to teachers is to set clear expectations and maintain a consistent environment for all students, using rewards or incentives to encourage good behavior and a rapport with the students that will create trust.
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Welcome to the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ hosted by Kimi Walker. Kimi has a track record of serving as a behavior change and improvement catalyst for individuals, groups, and organizations. Get ready to make the best version of yourself a priority. Now welcome Kimi Walker.
Kimi: Kimi Walker here and welcome to the next episode of the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’. This evening, I have Marvin Prather on the show. Marvin is an Educator and an Intervention Coordinator. Hi Marvin, welcome to the show.
Marvin: Thanks for having me Kimi.
Kimi: Why don’t you start off by introducing yourself and just telling kind of what you do, what you do in the school system so people can get a better understanding of it?
Marvin: Yes, my name is Marvin Prather. I am an Educator and I’m also a Multi-tiered Support Coordinator. This is my seventh year of teaching. I love teaching kids and I love inspiring them to be whatever they want to be in life. I also on the side, I’m a Interventionist where I help provide support to kids that are struggling with reading deficits or math calculation or math reasoning deficits as well.
Kimi: For people who may not know or may not understand, what are Multi-tiered Supports?
Marvin: Multi-tiered Supports are ways that we can support kids academically and behaviorally. Academics would be doing like small groups to help support reading and reading comprehension or even writing or speech. Behavior wise, we would do like behavior contracts and we’ll give them like a mystery motivator or a behavior intervention that supports their behavior and try to help support them so they’ll be successful or come up to grade level.
Kimi: Okay, so what happens I guess if let’s say for example or looking at the beginning stages at Early Accountability we’re really looking at how to push forward or get organized in the beginning stages of an endeavor? So let’s say we have a student in the school and a common one is going to be struggling with reading, what would that look like at the beginning stages?
Marvin: A student that would be struggling and with reading will struggle in all kinds of areas because reading is something that we do across the curriculum. Reading is a skill set that’s needed for them to be successful in life. So if they have reading deficits, usually in the classroom they start to act out because they really don’t understand the materials that’s presented to them. So as someone who’s over RTI, you would find ways to support them with their reading deficits by doing small groups, sometimes they’re part of the EIP, It’s like the Early Intervention Program where they pull them out into small groups from like seven to ten students and support their reading deficits. Sometimes it’s what the coding, letter sounds correspondence, they have issues with that so they try to help support them so they can be successful in classroom.
Kimi: What happens next if those interventions or support aren’t working?
Marvin: If those interventions or supports are not working, usually the teacher meets with the parent and then they discuss or they problem solve and do it like a root cause analysis to determine what’s the issue with the child. They usually look over like unit assessment data or benchmark data or maybe even statewide assessment data.
Marvin: And then they try to determine how they can support the kid, they’ll do like Computer Based Intervention Programs like they have Success Maker, Achieve 3000, I excel or even Starfall for the lower grades.
Kimi: Okay, so they’ll go through those programs as well to try to get additional supports?
Marvin: To help the student come up to a grade level.
Marvin: I also want to mention that once that happens, once you have that initial meeting they’ll become a tear two students, where they may have some type of intervention that might be like two times a week and then their pool with someone else like usually a parent support or another sort of our teacher and they receive some instruction. Then they progress monitor their performance using maybe Dibbles or like [inaudible] [04:30]well Probes which are assessments that we use to see how children are progressing while receiving that additional support from the teacher from them out twice a week. And if that doesn’t work then they’re moved to like a tear three and then they’ll intensify the supports. Maybe it’s like three or five times a week, depending on how low the child is.
Kimi: Okay, so how long in general this is like process take. So if people wanted to understand like how long does this take?
Kimi: What does this usually look like, because sometimes it can, I know as close as it could seem like forever parents may say?
Marvin: Yes, it can definitely be overwhelming. Usually when they are in tear two, it takes like four to six weeks and then you’ll have a meeting and you’ll review the child’s data. And then if their child is not making progress, we’ll change their intervention which would be another four to six weeks of data. So maybe like two to three months depending on how quickly they can move through the process and if they’re not making any additional progress this would be after that second parent conference then they would have an additional meeting and move the child to tear three.
Then they would intensified the supports that they are providing to the child which would be like three to five times a week and they’ll chart the data again using the Probes, the Progress Monitoring Probes, they have to be consistent through the tear two and the tear three process in order to see if progress is being made. Once that happens then the child can have another meeting and then the teams can decide the students support team because the mom is a part of their student supporting team and we have to see where the mom wants to go with the child moving through the process.
After that, they’re usually given a parental consent to evaluate and then the school psychologist would do some testing and the councilor would do some testing and maybe me as the and NTSS coordinator, I would do some testing and then we would put our information together and then we will review it with the mom on the student support team and then we could move the child to see if they needed any additional support maybe specialist services, maybe a 504 plan.
Kimi: What advice would you give to a parent who feels like, “I have my child, I don’t think they’re reading like they should, i don’t think their math skills are where they should “what questions or dialogue would you offer them to spark the conversation with the school if it hasn’t already been done so?
Marvin: I would tell them to have the conversation with the teacher first to see what they’re doing inside the classroom to support the child’s deficit and determine a plan of action to see how they can support the child and bring them close to grade level. Maybe they can talk to the parent, liaison if there is one at the school and they can get resources for the school to support at home the child’s progress and maybe books or computer intervention tools and use those at home to try to support the child moving forward or in closer to grade level maybe.
Kimi: Okay, also for the teachers, because I know you’ve been teaching for a while. I know the school system sometimes the teachers have a very hard time or can have a hard time. There are so many standards they have to meet, so many different children, lots of different behaviors. What advice would you give to like new teachers, to teachers who are really struggling to meet some of the needs of children who might be a little bit lower and need extra supports but they’re just filling pressed and they don’t really have the time to give them that intensive support like they may need?
Marvin: The first person I would go to would be the EIP team for the school, if you had a K5 school, I will go to the EIP team to see what type of support if they can probably get their child and then the EIP services. And the next step, I would talk to your academic coach if you have one, to see if they can provide you with strategies to meet kids that may have behavioral challenges in the classroom. And usually when the child has behavior challenges it’s probably that they can’t do the work that you placed in front of them and they may have to scaffold and only give them five other problems instead of given them the ten problems that they give to the rest of the class.
Kimi: What are tools or techniques would you say for behavior problems. Are there any like certain things that people might do there, are there certain things that the school and home you always like kind of suggest recommend they do together and be in alignment on that. Because those can really prevent students from progressing forward?
Marvin: Yes, I really like rewards and then there are also is a positive behavior systems of support sometimes referred to as [inaudible] [09:26]if I would do some type of reward incentive in the classroom and come up with a consistent classroom expectations. Usually when you have your procedures down in place and rituals and routines, you don’t have many behavior challenges because you already set those expectations for your classroom.
Kimi: Okay, so if a teacher is kind of feel like or maybe struggling with a lot of behaviors, you would say again like reach out to the kind of support teams, student support teams at your school?
Marvin: Yes, or the AP, the Principal or the academic coach. I would first go to the academic coach or the EIP team first before going to the AP or Principal because you don’t want to feel like you’re incompetent at work. I would first go to the people that are your colleague instead of going to your building administration.
Kimi: Okay, so start kind of with your peers exactly?
Marvin: Yes, peers. Your grade levels first, academic coach and maybe the EIP team to see if they can provide you with some strategies of how you can support the kids in the classroom.
Kimi: The same thing really just multi-tiered supports just starting?
Kimi: And it intensifying as it goes up?
Kimi: What kind of recommendations do you have for parents, I know sometimes you might have like a different teacher and this year you’re getting like a lot of phone calls. It’s like teachers calling you every other day about your child’s behavior. What kind of steps would you tell, like for a parent who’s going through that like, I really, they don’t see the behavior like, “I don’t see this at home and you calling me every other day.” What kind of ways could they be accountable with helping their child perform better in the school and kind of strengthening that relationship between home and school?
Marvin: To me, for of a child that has behavior challenges and the teacher is constantly calling about the behavior challenges, I advise parents to do Pop Ups. This is a visit at the school, where you’re not really trying to be seen but you’re observing your child’s behavior. This is unannounced but you do contact the teacher and tell them about that you’re going to come up to the school you’re not coming in that classroom, you’re just observing on the outside if that makes sense?
Kimi: Okay, so the child is not aware?
Marvin: Yes, the child is not aware of the situation. But you’re coming to observe the child’s behavior to see if they’re going to act out like the teacher keeps calling you about. I think you doing a Pop Up visit, you come up to school and observing the child’s behavior to see what they’re doing in the classroom. And then you can also do build that line of communication with the teacher and set some type of rules, like you all come up with a behavior chart that you can use at home and at school if those behaviors are consistent at both areas, there shouldn’t be an issue. And I would focus on like seeing what the child issue might be.
Sometimes children need to go to a counselor and they need to deal with additional issues. Are new kids are different some of them have anxiety, some of them have stress, some just have different issues that we may not have had as a child.
Kimi: Right, so different things that they’re dealing with too and being exposed to.
Marvin: Yes and it’s always about building that relationship. I mean you are the parent but the child has to be able to communicate with you, their thoughts, opinions. You have to be able to actively listen to them. Sometimes children are acting out of school because they’re not getting enough attention at home.
Kimi: Yes, so, how can people keep connected with you? You give a lot of great advice on social media for parents and teachers, young teachers on how to make intervention supports work for them, how to help them organize their classroom, what parents can do to help their children out or strengthen their relationship with the school. How can people stay connected with you?
Marvin: I’m on LinkedIn at www.LinkedIn.com at Marvin [unclear][13:43]EDS and it’s the same for Facebook as well.
Kimi: Okay, great. So Marvin, what are your words of advice. What’s your daily mantra? What keeps you pushing and going through?
Marvin: My daily mantra is, “when you become complaisant, you’re not growing.” [Laughs]
Kimi: [Inaudible] [14:03]
Marvin: I think I should think of something else.
Marvin: Forgive me, I don’t like that one. And I like that one. And I like it. Let me think about it. I don’t like it, I don’t like it. Oh God.
Marvin: That is the truth though. When you become complaisant, you are not growing.
Marvin: [Inaudible] [14:26]
Kimi: [Inaudible]you’re not growing. That’s a whole another episode. So, we would be back on The Early Accountability Podcast next time to talk about if you’re complacent. You’re not growing. Until next time.
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