November 2016 E-News



Autumn Update!

The Wisconsin RtI Center is dedicated to bringing you the knowledge, tools, and information you need to help pave the way to success for ALL students. Using evidence-based practices, schools implementing a culturally responsive multi-level system of support create a more positive school environment, build mutually respectful student relationships, and use proven strategies to consistently deliver high-quality instruction and supports for all students.

This issue features: ideas for teaching and celebrating Native American Heritage Month, insights and ideas for increasing family engagement, and strategies for closing the achievement gap through the adoption of culturally responsive practices.

At the Wisconsin RtI Center, we're here to help you build or reinforce your systems so you can provide behavioral and academic supports that help each and every student become college and career ready. Let's get started! 




November we Celebrate Native American Heritage Month! 

In Wisconsin, there are more than 11,000 American Indian students. Implementing a culturally responsive multi-level system of support involves learning about the various cultures of students within our state. Learning and celebrating heritage helps students feel a sense of belonging in school. With 11 different tribes in the state of Wisconsin alone, there is much knowledge to draw from.

To help you celebrate their rich cultural contributions and bring these lessons into the classroom, we’ve compiled several resources for you to use:

Wisconsin DPI

American Indian Education in Wisconsin  was created by DPI to give educators and administrators an overview of educational context, history, and current policies pertaining to American Indian students. It outlines the goals for American Indian students with respect to Agenda 2017 and provides helpful resources. Their American Indian Studies Program webpage directs educators to a rich list of resources and links as well.

First Nations Development Institute
The First Nations Development Institute created the #nativereads campaign. This Native American Heritage Month site features a list of recommended reading to understand American Indian student perspectives.

National Education Association
The NEA has developed curricula for learning about and celebrating Native American Heritage Month. The programs are structured for grades K-5grades 6-8,  and grades 9-12

Wisconsin RtI Center Culturally Responsive Practices Webpage
The center has compiled resources relating to the seven experiences that inform culturally responsive teaching and learning. Our page for educators who teach American Indian students includes several resources and opportunities for learning about student home culture.

In addition to these resources, the center has featured more ideas and articles on our Facebook page and Twitter feed during the month of November.




Getting Families Engaged to Enhance Student Learning

Family engagement can be one of the most powerful tools that educators have for building productive learning relationships with students. In the past, schools have used a “broadcast” model to inform parents of what is going on within the school. PTAs and PTOs often helped with decision making, but when it comes to building a multi-level system of support, “engaging” families – rather than just “informing” them – is key.

But what do we mean by family engagement? Our model is based on three tenets: Embrace, Engage, and Empower. In order for schools to do this, they need to take an honest inventory of how they currently work with parents. Then they need to ask themselves whether their strategies match with research-based best practices.

Embrace: Honoring family cultures, values, and beliefs

  • Does your staff consider families and community as experts on their children?  
  • How does the school intentionally and authentically include families during decision making for the school and their child?  
  • Does your school have a family and community subcommittee that goes beyond planning surface-level cultural celebrations?  
  • Are these committees asked to help determine what the outcomes for the children, school, and community may be?

Engage: Creating a welcoming and engaging environment

  • How do you know if ALL parents/visitors feel welcomed and they belong in the school?  
  • How do you foster strong relationships between families and school staff?  
  • What professional development is offered to foster relationships?  
  • How does the school enable ongoing authentic two-way communication and participation?  
  • Does the school partner with local businesses and libraries to have expectations posted in their businesses?  

Empower: Family engagement connects to better learning outcomes

  • Does the school share resources that parents can put in place at home to support learning at school?  
  • What does your staff do to model lifelong learning to families and community?  
  • What is the evidence that your school values the knowledge and experience/expertise that parents can bring to the learning environment?  
  • Do you share cool tools for getting ready in the morning, bedtime, and for completing school work?  
  • Do you ask parents about what they feel is the best way to help their child be organized, healthy, and balanced emotionally?

Throughout the course of the year, the Wisconsin RtI Center will be providing a series of webinar trainings on family engagement. A recording of the first training will be available soon, and will be announced on our Facebook page. The next two sessions take place on February 7, and on April 28. If you can’t attend, all videos in the series will be available on our website.



Culturally Responsive Practices Series
The Will: Desire and Commitment

Becoming culturally responsive is a lifelong journey, not a destination. It is a way of being and knowing, rather than a checklist to complete. In the Center’s September 2016 e-newsletter, we shared the Model to Inform Culturally Responsive Practices as a guide for the journey. This month we move deeper into building will and actions associated with it. 

WILL, the desire to lead and a commitment to achieving equitable outcomes for all students includes:

  • Become Self Aware: Do you know how your culture has shaped you? What influences how your school operates?
    What do you value? What does your school value? What assumptions do you hold about school?
  • Examine the System’s Impact on Families and Students: What impact does “the way we do things around here” have on your students? Which families are represented on the PTO? Which are not? What does your classroom and school data look like when you disaggregate it? 
  • Believe All Students Will Learn: Are you fully committed to reaching each and every child? Is your school? What biases do you have about the ability of students? 

To help you begin to work through these questions, the Wisconsin RtI Center and DPI have a range of resources available. You and your school team can: