As we plan for instruction for our students, I am often asked what is considered “intensive instruction”. As you can see from this handout released by leading reading researchers, one teacher to three students is considered intensive. In some districts, we tell parents that although we may be providing one to one instruction at this time, in the future, their child might be in a pair or group of three if we found students who matched the same needs. Of course this does not mean that we have to put them into a group of three as this decision is always in the TEAM’s hands.
Likewise, a small group is defined by research as 1 teacher to 6 students. More students than that would not be considered a small group. Adding an aide to the mix when you go above that ratio would indicate that the teacher is using group within group strategies, such as having students rotate though learning centers.
Within our instructional time, we should be particularly alert to the gradual release of responsibility model. This model informs ALL instruction.
In this model, we are transferring HOW to learn to the students. If we only do Direct Instruction, whether through the teacher or aide, the student cannot tell himself what to do in our absence.
Too often students with disabilities have what is called learned helplessness. It is characterized by decreased motivation, failure to learn, and negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, and frustration. The student develops this pattern of behavior whenever they are presented with a learning situation because they have not been given the opportunity to develop self-control over these situations. Transferring control of learning to the students through instructions planned to do so can combat these negative behaviors and turn students into competent , lifelong learners.
I urge you to read more about these three important concepts: components of intensive instruction, gradual release of responsibility and learned helplessness, by clicking on the links.
As always, helping you help your students is my passion. So, call me if you want to learn how to apply these in your work.