So you're calling an S.S.T.? Some call it RTI... we all do it at some point in our year for a child at risk. What are some ways you can make calling an SST the very BEST thing that you did for that particular child and family? I'm here to share some ideas that have worked for me in the past.
First off ~ ~ document. We're all teachers here and it isn't our first rodeo. It doesn't take long to notice that a child is sticking out in your class because they aren't keeping up, asking for help a lot, hard to understand when speaking, etc. Usually within the first week or much sooner you can tell that something is off. Start documenting things in a notebook about the child. Conversations you have with them....I often keep tally marks... how often do they interrupt me? How often are they having an altercation with another student, etc. This is all useful information to bring to the SST or for parent conferences when you bring up the idea of having one.
Next ~ ~ Make sure all your testing on this child is up to date. You absolutely cannot walk into an SST without the proper data to back you up. Parents are often already nervous and on edge during this meeting and if you don't have all your ducks in a row it makes you look unprofessional, unprepared and it leads the meeting down a road you don't want to be taking. So having all the recent district assessments, reading assessments, etc. will be just the proof you need. If it's not an academic issue then invite the psych or principal in to observe the child so you have other's input at the SST in regards to their behavior.
Be sure to start with the child's strengths! If you aren't a parent you might not completely understand how crucial this is. This is their 'baby' you are talking about...you need to come in to the meeting as positive as possible. I don't mean feed on any denial they might be having I just mean with a positive attitude. Every child has wonderful attributes that we can share and make the parents feel proud. Plus, it starts the meeting off on the right foot and that makes all the difference. You are on the same team ~ ~ starting with compliments and the child's strengths reinforces that message. You aren't there to point fingers, complain etc.
Be a support to the parents. Most likely you have been all year...offering advice, encouragement, tips etc. But in the SST continue that rapport that hopefully has already been established. They need to feel like you have their back as well as their child's. They may be feeling insecure, nervous and overwhelmed. This is your opportunity to calm their fears, and walk them through the SST process. You want them to feel at ease and find success for how to best meet the needs of their child.
Make sure someone in the meeting is taking notes and documenting the conversations that are happening. At the end offer a copy of these notes to the family and keep one in the child's file. Be sure during the meeting to talk about the mom's pregnancy, meeting milestones as a baby, any sicknesses/illness like repeat ear infections, etc. Try to get as much health and family history as you can to get a bigger picture.
Thank the family and team for working together for the best solution for the family and that child. Be sure that all their questions have been answered before they leave. If you have established a time line for what's next stick to it. Follow through on your end on everything that you can that was brought up for this situation.
Lastly ~ ~ take care of that child for as long as you have them. Keep loving on them and encouraging them. Make sure you are doing everything in your power to make that child successful ~ keep doing what you're doing!