Prevention and early intervention are a key elements of the Unconditional Education framework. On the surface these efforts may seem separate from the work of providing targeted and intensive services, but in fact, they are highly connected. Paradoxically, when schools embrace the challenge of re-aligning resources to support Tier 1, they must often begin by looking at how they organize support for the handful of students with the most intensive needs. The goal here is not to rob Peter to pay Paul but, rather, to conceive of exceptional intensive supports as simultaneous opportunities for prevention and early intervention. Teams can create highly impactful plans for individual students that maximize the secondary benefits of each intervention employed. We call such solutions “two-fers,” An intervention is a “two-fer” if it addresses a Tier 2/3 need while simultaneously having impact on Tier 1.
One of my favorite examples of a two-fer (or perhaps a three-fer?) comes from several years ago at Cox. The Cox team organized a social skill-building intervention for a group of six fourth and fifth grade boys. Rather than simple holding that group in the therapy space, they worked with this group of struggling students to become "game leaders” during kindergarten recess. Not only did this give the boys in the group a chance to develop leadership skills and build social confidence, it also helped to facilitate structured opportunities for kindergarteners to practice their play skills. This would have been a great combo in and of itself, but a final addition took this intervention to the expert level. The Cox team was also working at the time with a kinder student who had a developmental delay and frequently ran from the playground to hide. He would dart off at a moment’s notice, which caused the team to worry about his safety. One option would have been to require this student to stay inside or another would have been to assign an adult to solely focus on his whereabouts. Instead, the Cox team was able to maximize their available resources in a more efficient way. They bought seven lime green T-shirts. Six were worn by the recess leaders so that the kindergarten students could find them to help mediate their playground disputes. The seventh was worn by the kinder student so he could be easily tracked while he enjoyed his favorite part of the day – recess. The kinder student became an honorary member of the older boys group and three interventions were introduced with the resources that would have traditionally been dedicated to just one.
How could the interventions you provide be transformed into Two-fers? What other examples of Two-fers have you seen at your schools?
Robin Detterman, Executive Director of School Partnerships