Applying integrated, whole-child design to school systems and settings
The first phase in our Tiered Systems of Supports approach is the Identification Phase. It is the first step in dismantling schoolwide systems that problematize the child and ultimately contribute to a negative student experience. All students have strengths and talents, yet they may not always come to school with the prerequisite skills needed to be successful. In many schools, those students whose strengths and talents have not been uncovered or who have not yet developed the foundational school readiness skills are viewed as if something is “wrong” with them.
The self-reflective nature of the Identification Phase gives educators an opportunity to explore the mindsets they hold about students and their families. In addition, it includes time to examine broader schoolwide systems, structures, and practices that may contribute to inequitable responses that lead to inequitable outcomes for students. For example, when a student is struggling, emphasis is often placed on their deficits rather than the assets of the student and their family. Thus, the response is often punitive because educators and/or the school haven’t considered the full context of that student and how to better support them. The end result is that the student is often left feeling blamed for their academic/behavioral challenges, which consequently deepens the barriers to reaching their full potential and achievement of academic success. The exploratory and reflective actions in which an educator engages during the Identification Phase help to mitigate against perspectives based in implicit bias and provide a space to change the narrative.
Explore our tools to support educators in acknowledging student context through a whole-child lens as they determine which student may need additional support below.
INNOVATION IN ACTION:
Explore the tools below to learn more about the Identification Phase and start innovating within your own system:
Getting Started: Identification Phase
Learn more about the importance of challenging inequitable beliefs, structures, and practices as you begin to consider students who may need additional support.
Guiding Questions for the Identification Phase
This tool provides educators with some guiding questions that will facilitate reflection on their mindsets about students and their classroom practices. The questions also support an examination of schoolwide systems and structures that may contribute to inequitable and unintentional biased responses to meeting the needs of students.
Indicators of Need
This purpose of this tool is to help educators expand their thinking about ways in which students are presenting in the classroom. It provides knowledge that supports identifying the types of indicators that could demonstrate a student who needs support.
A Tale of Two Approaches: Identifying Students Who Need Additional Support
The purpose of this story is to illustrate the difference in two approaches to supporting a student in need through a Tiered System of Supports. One approach is a more traditional way of addressing student needs, and the other approach offers an example more in alignment to a whole-child vision.