Today we had our first RtI Wednesday of the year at Merton Intermediate School. I must admit, it is one of my favorite days of the month. Due to a variety of reasons, we have lost common planning time for our teachers. We could look at this as a problem or as a challenge. The principal of Merton Primary School, Mike Budisch (@headlearner) and I developed a way to make sure that our staff would have at least one hour and 15 minutes a month with no responsibilities for students. The students arrive at their regular time but instead of heading to class, they come to the gym in the Intermediate School or the cafeteria in the Primary School. Mike and I, with the support of some of our teaching assistants take around 500 students for a 30-minute assembly. We have a short staff meeting and then the staff goes to work using data to develop RtI groupings of students. The staff determine who would have targeted, selected, universal, or extension groups and then they plan activities, especially for the universal groups as these tend to be the largest. This morning the staff meeting was 10 minutes as I "flipped" the meeting, sending the staff a google presentation in advance (Staff RtI Wednesday 9.12.12). The staff left the meeting, went to collaborate, and I made sure, one more time, that I was ready for the students. I met the students outside and brought them into the gym for their assembly (Student RtI Wednesday 9.12.12). As is normally the case for these assemblies, I plan way more than I can get through, but it's always good to have something extra in case a link works at home but doesn't work at school. Today the assembly ended a bit differently as I had the staff come in to sit with their classes for the last 15 minutes. We celebrated the great start of both the students and the staff including an amazing statistic that still blows me away. I must admit, I was nervous the first time, but the personal stories I have been able to share with the students in these assemblies have helped the students see me more as a teacher and not just the person in the office who speaks with the "naughty" kids. If you're looking for a way to provide uninterrupted planning time for your staff, I encourage you to give this a try.