It’s all about the individual.
That’s really the philosophy behind the Lloydminster Public School Division’s (LPSD) Targeted Skills Model. And a huge part of that is the introduction of Targeted Skills Teachers (TSTs), whose goal is to serve each student according to their own unique needs.
“The division is really looking at it as a proactive approach,” said E.S. Laird Middle School TST Alex Petley- Jones. “Our TSTs, with all of our school staff, are working with all of our students to target lagging skills – those are areas where students need extra support.”
With one TST in every elementary and middle school in the division, support is being given to the development of school-wide positive behavioural systems and practices. This allows all students and staff to “Speak the same language, and have similar expectations regarding behaviours,” said Petley.
“We’re trying to look to individualize education towards the needs of our students,” said Petley. “We’re looking at what’s going to support the student the most within a classroom and then we’re trying to support them with that.”
It is through this initiative that TSTs will also be able to curb difficult behaviours in students before they actually happen.
“Instead of waiting for an incident and then reacting to it, they’ve developed a proactive support ahead of time, before there are any incidents within the classroom,” said Petley.
TSTs do this by assessing and monitoring all students, and then providing individualized support based on those findings. But since every student is different, the supports provided vary widely.
“Every support plan is going to look different from student to student. We have the ability as targeted skills teachers to tailor the program to the individual need of the student,” said Petley. “So, for some of the students, they may need intensive support within the classroom, and/or they may need intensive direct teaching of skills, whereas another group of students may benefit from a fairly short period of support, such as being part of a small group, learning about anger management strategies.”
Whether in math class, PE or just in the halls, the expectations for behaviour are now the same. But those individualized strategies don’t stop on the behavioural level.
“Even when we’re looking at academics, we’re looking at it with the same lens,” said Petley. “So, how we support one student in math may look really different than another student.”
TSTs come as one of many student services, along with speech language pathologists, counsellors, educational assistants and support teachers.