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✓ Alaska RTI Conference 2015 Reflections

Conference Overview

I was fortunate to attend the RTI Conference in Anchorage this year. As with every other RTI conference I have been to, this was very useful and helped me find ways to improve in my professional practice. I really love that about conferences.

Some conferences can be really limiting, in that we can't go deep enough. I love being able to take the time to go deep into a topic. This conference featured a two-day strand called Simplifying RTI, by Austin Buffum, someone that I didn't know. There were some other great presenters here, like Doug Fisher, Anita Archer, and Tricia Skyles. Part of me really wanted to attend sessions that I knew would be beneficial, But another part of me really liked the idea of doing some actual work in addition to just learning. A two-day session at a two-day conference lends itself to getting things done. Austin was a great presenter and really made himself available for the participants.

What made this session exceptionally well-timed is that we just sent out surveys seeking feedback on what needs we have as we create our master schedule next year. We looked at options and made some tentative plans for what could be next year. It was pretty awesome.

One of the best activities of the weekend was having Austin lead us through a process to examine our Pyramid of Interventions. It was a thought-provoking exercise that took about all day on Sunday. We had to look at what integral pieces we had in place and what pieces we needed to establish. He said it was a 3-5 year process. I hope we can do it faster, because that is how I roll, but I would be happy if we got it done in 3 years.

According to Austin, we need to start with culture because "culture eats structure for breakfast." We are not going to be successful if we don't have a belief in two core principles:

  1. We, as educators, must accept responsibility to ensure high levels of learning for every child.
  2. All students can learn at high levels (i.e., "high school plus, meaning every child will graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge needed to continue to learn")

When we recognize that we are committed to those two ideals, we will be ready for some really remarkable student learning.

I've published my notes from the conference so you can see them.