EOE April Authors of the Month!

Congratulations Vickie Bernhardt and Connie Hébert!

1.What motivated you to write Response to Intervention and Continuous School Improvement (RtI and CSI)?

Our motivation to write the first edition of RtI and CSI centered on the intersection of our two areas of experience and expertise. Vickie comes from the continuous school improvement and comprehensive data analysis background, and Connie comes from the instructional support and special education background. Together, we came to the awarenessthat if RtI was going to be successful in schools, schools had to understand and do the work of continuous school improvement before delving into RtI.We knew we wanted to help schools gather and analyze their data to see the compelling reason to commit to RtI – to reach every student, – and then we knew we needed to help them establish a vision for RtI, with enough detail that all staff members would know what they had to do to implement RtI, with integrity and fidelity. This became the focus of our second edition.

2. From the second edition, what is your favorite piece of advice on how to best design a schoolwide RtI system?

While our first edition provided a case study for schools to see how systems of RtI could look when it is coordinated with CSI, the second edition of RtI and CSI focuses on fidelity of implementing a schoolwide RtI system.For this edition, we created anRtI Implementation Guidewith examples for the entire structure and every component of RtI at a school. The Guide complements the book. We have experienced schools trying to ‘build the plane while flying’, and know this happens with many school initiatives due to time and resource limitations. We recommend answering all of these construction issues before ever starting to design your RtI system. Leaving out one piece of the puzzle can bring the system crashing down.

3. Tell us one of your favorite stories about a school you’ve worked with.

We have many versions of the same favorite story. This story starts with staff thinking they are doing everything they can possibly do to “get their scores up.” After reviewing all of their schoolwide data, they see what staff need to do to get different results. Once all staff get onboard, before long, they begin to see that they are making a difference with each student’s learning. It is always exciting to watch the development of a vision and data analysis reignite passion in educators!

4. What or who inspired you to become an educator?

Connie: I can’t remember a time I did not want to be an educator. I can remember being excited to “join the ranks” as I began my career and met experienced teachers. I love learning, and was inspired by teachers I had growing up. I also was inspired by relatives who had special needs -- such untapped abilities! I wanted to learn more about the world of special education, which led me directly to instructional supports. I believe I’ve had a privileged career that has allowed me to learn from excellent educators and gain tremendous knowledge from experiencing multiple systems at work. My favorite job is the one I have now as a classroom intervention consultant in Jackson, MO which allows me to work in both general and special education environments.

Vickie: I got into education because I loved math!! Seems like a strange entre´. After noticing that not everyone was good in math, I thought I could help the next generation love math as much as I did. However, while working with Professors and Graduate Students in the Psychology Department during college, I learned how they proved their experimental hypotheses with numbers, and I was hooked on this profession. I wanted to be able to help educators in a similar way Psychology Professor can tell you this theory is the one to bank on. After graduating from college, I was fortunate to be able to go on for a Masters Degree in Statistics, applied to Education and Psychology, and then to apply my knowledge to research, evaluation, and continuous school improvement in education.

5. And finally, please tell us your favorite thing about being in Education in one statement.

Making a difference for our future. 

About the Authors

Victoria L. Bernhardt, Ph.D., is Executive Director of Education for the Future Initiative, a not-for-profit organization located at California State University, Chico, California, whose mission is to build the capacity of all learning organizations at all levels to gather, analyze, and use data to continuously improve learning for all students. She is also a Professor (currently on leave) in the College of Communication and Education, at California State University, USA.

Connie L. Hébert, M.S. Ed., is an experienced educator and consultant in the field of special education, and a K-12 Intervention Consultant for the Jackson R2 School District in Missouri, USA.

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