Episode #177: Tom Hierck & Chris Weber

Dana GoodierOut of the Trenches Podcast

Tom Hierck has been an educator since 1983 in a career that has spanned all grade levels and roles in public education. His experiences as a teacher, administrator, district leader, department of education project leader, and executive director have provided a unique context for his education philosophy. Tom Hierck is one of our profession’s leading authors and consulta nts, with 39 years of experience in education. He’s author of more than 20 books.

Chris Weber, EdD, A graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Chris flew C-141s during his military career. A former high school, middle school, and elementary school teacher and administrator, Chris has had a great deal of success helping students who historically underachieve learn at extraordinarily high levels.

As a principal and assistant superintendent in California and Chicago, Chris and his colleagues have developed systems of Response to Intervention that have led to heretofore unrealized levels of learning at schools across the country.

Chris presents internationally to audiences on important topics in education such as math and RTI.

Trenches story (Tom then Chris): First years teaching. Said job’s up after 1 year. Didn’t say in which job. Did 0 training in sped. Learned so much about teaching & learning. Really springboard to everything he writes/present. Chris-last principalship. Curveball, was secondary teacher & admin. Had to go to elementary school. 8% of students only read at grade level. 8-40% in 1 year. Changed his life. Accepted possibility/hope.

Why The Road to Success with MTSS: A Ten Step Process now? Was this a work in progress for a while. Book themes (they write) are generally the same. Positive learning environments. Practices don’t always indicate it. Noone got into education to be marginal or ineffective. Tom doesn’t think pre-service teacher training has adjusted to the needs we see today. For Chris- 13th book. Practicality. approach. You’ve heard of it, tried it, it’s not gone exactly as hoped. Behavior skills. attributes. We can teach, st’s must possess them. We often use same systems for behavior & academics. Imply there’s a road to this work. Self-checks along the way. Have to add & subtract. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. 3-5 years. We felt before it was softer schools. Kids missed ppl/interactions, etc. during pandemic. What do we need to do in large arena.

How has your work with schools led to your development of this roadmap, and how would it have looked differently if it had been published, let’s say, 10 years ago?  Pyramid of behavior interventions was written then. Chris says 10 years ago it was called RTI and now MTSS. Why is there a diff term? On one hand, nothing has changed. RTI was developed by Bloom in 1960’s. They wrote article in Ed Leadership in 2010 about RTI being around since ‘60s. It shouldn’t represent a shift. College/career life exacerbated it. Chris is doing work daily- is director in a district. Books 10 years ago aren’t terrible different. Increased status we give to behavior is that basic work has core foundations. There is more research/guidance than 10 years ago.

Case study work that has helped- Chris- k-8 school- focused on tier 2 academics. It’s the forgotten tier. here are 3 tiers, 3 sets of student needs. Common sense in action. What’s missing? Chris says a true commitment to tier 1 behavior. 36 week commitment to model tier 1 behavior after tier 1 academics. Tier 2 has a diff. purpose. Many schools have Tier 1,3 and Tier 3 light- master learning what Bloom called. Tom- tries to go into schools/districts for an extended period of time. high-lows/disasters.

What are some schools/districts doing wrong in terms of the MTSS process? What have you seen has been left out in the process in places? Bypass of critical Tier 2 work. Often schools give them Tier 2-3 lists. Don’t give designations of students. Core instructions hasn’t been aligned w/ this. As they go around the work, they’re looking for instant fixes. It’s not worth the time that’s devoted. 3-5 year journey. You got to dig in to make sustainable change. Alignment is by looking at policy, procedure, practice. 5% increase in grad rates is worth celebrating. If grad rates are low, you need to look at reasons. What are they doing wrong- over documentation. This isn’t the gateway to sped. It’s not a permanent label. They don’t require permanent intervention. Bloom believes 95% of kids could achieve mastery learning. We’re still in pandemic. Perhaps some of their diagnoses are off. Not even distribution of the impact. Chris- we over complicate/over document. He says documentation serves as a gatekeeper. We need to know the need exists and how to provide/serve it today. We have to be prepared to know every kid gets it. Don’t opt them out if things because of tier 3.

Key Quotes: Chris: Embrace/commit to that behavior matters. Non-cognitive factors. More important than academic skills. We must model them. Create classroom assignments that support them.

Every school is populated with kids who will widely successful adults. We have 13 years to prepare them to do that Click To Tweet

Find Tom & Chris online: Visit Tom’s Website, TomHierck.com thierck@gmail.com @thierk on Twitter

Visit Chris’s Website, ChrisWeberEducation.com chris@chriswebereducation.com

Follow Tom on Twitter @THierck

Follow Chris on Twitter @webereducation  

View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ZIOJupV-Vdc

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