Response to Intervention and Job-Embedded Professional Development

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    Within the framework of a Delaware Response to Intervention (RTI) initiative, which mandated implementation of RTI in Delaware's elementary schools in reading during the 2008-2009 school years, job-embedded professional development and RTI can and is successfully working. On-the-job learning provides an essential solution to the problem of lack of professional development time and helps to organize best practices in universal screening, progress monitoring, intructional strategies and interventions. Job-embedded learning does not require participants to set aside a separate time to learn. Because learning occurs while on-the-job, time efficiency is maximized and integrating new knowledge is not difficult.

    Job-embedded learning, also known as on-the-job learning, is learning that occurs while teachers and administrators engage in their daily work. On-the-job learning is a practical method that offers an easier, more effective method to ensure that education is constantly improving. While simultaneously performing their job duties, participants learn by doing, reflecting on their experiences, and then generating and sharing new insights and learning with one another. This type of learning, formal and informal, is becoming more popular because of its practicality.

    There are many types of on-the-job learning, some formal and others informal. Study groups, reflective logs, action research, peer coaching, and mentoring are just a few examples of job-embedded learning. In study groups, a small number of participants come together to learn more about a particular topic. The group reviews and discusses the topic, reads literature on it, and may visit model programs.

    In contrast to study groups, keeping a reflective log is a more individual practice. Reflective logs are used to encourage learning from the successes and problems a participant encounters during the workday. Participants not only summarize what happened, but they summarize what they have learned. Typically, participants share these logs with other colleagues who offer further insight and advise.

    Another example of job-embedded learning is action research. Participants gather data and information about their performance and their work environment and then systematically analyze their findings individually or with other colleagues. This practice reveals certain trends and tendencies and allows participants to reflect on what changes need to be made. Participants then implement these changes and continue to gather research to see if the new approach is effective.

    Finally, job-embedded learning is beneficial because it promotes immediate application of what is learned and costs less, in most cases. Therefore, as a third grade special education resource teacher working with students in Tier III and a member of the National Education Association (NEA) IDEA Special Education Resource Cadre with the opportunity to present to state membership affiliates throughout the United States, I applaud the efforts of the general education teachers on my third grade team at Keene Elementary School in Newark, Delaware in the Christina School District who creatively implemented and applied job-embedded professional development strategies at grade level meetings to get the most out of RTI everyday.

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