The Individualized Instruction Program (IIP) has been part of Rectory since its founding. In 1920, Reverend Frank H. Bigelow and his wife, Mabel, had a vision of a school in which each student received individual instruction through a personalized curriculum. In subsequent years, Headmaster John Bigelow added to this vision with the addition of a tutoring program, specifically, one based upon the Orton-Gillingham approach, to help students with difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling.
To this day, IIP is an integral part of what makes Rectory unique. We understand students have diverse learning profiles and needs and each student is on his/her unique educational journey. Therefore, our approach to teaching and learning in IIP isn’t one-size-fits-all but is instead tailored to a specific student’s needs. In fact, students are enrolled in IIP program for a variety of reasons, including developing English language skills, enrichment in content areas, executive functioning needs, as well as providing remediation for students with learning differences, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, and more.
For the 2019-2020 school year, there are currently over 130 students enrolled in the IIP program or over 50% of the student body. That’s pretty incredible! With so many students enrolled in IIP, the Learning Center is a hub of activity. As a result, students at Rectory don’t have a stigma about receiving support, and this is wonderful as it promotes a greater sense of self-awareness and self-advocacy in our student body.
So How Does It Work?
A lot of care and thought is put into each tutor and tutee relationship. As soon as a student is enrolled in IIP, parents are asked to share what skills or subject areas are in most need of support. In addition, parents are asked to share their goals for the program. For new students, past teacher recommendations, report cards, test results, and other records, including IEP and 504 plans are reviewed. For returning students, whenever possible and appropriate, they are reunited with their former tutor ensuring continuity and consistency. In fact, some students have worked with the same tutors for three or more years, resulting in life-long connections.
Whether a student is new or returning, the most important factors are the experience and skillset the tutor brings to the situation; students who are in need of math support are placed with tutors with a background in math, and those students in need of a specific program are also paired similarly. We know that the thoughtful consideration of a tutor/tutee relationship is key to a successful year in IIP.
Students enrolled in IIP never miss a class because it takes place during study hall. Secondly, all sessions are an hour-long and take place three to four times a week. Tutors, using quantitative and qualitative assessments, work to identify the starting point for their students, along with a plan to help support them. Students are always included and heard during this process with their thoughts, goals, and needs incorporated; as we know that without student buy-in success is less likely to occur.
Additionally, tutors are in regular communication with classroom teachers, to help prepare for tests, take notes, or whatever the situation calls for to provide wrap-around support.
Who are the tutors?
The word “amazing” falls short of describing the caring, knowledgeable, and student-centered team of tutors. We have an amazing team of skilled and talented individuals who are committed to making each of their student’s learning journey memorable and positive without exception. On any given day, one will witness tutors working creatively and relentlessly to make learning come alive and click. It’s also quite likely one of the tutors will be celebrating a student’s birthday or a student will be petting or curled up with one of the three dogs that call the Learning Center their home-away-from-home. In short, it’s equally about heart as is about the mind in IIP.
Rectory tutors are experienced professionals who know the how and why behind supporting students. From Orton-Gillingham and TESOL certification to child brain-based past practices and everything in between, the team of tutors have a result-driven mindset; they are active in not only taking advantage of professional development opportunities but are school-leaders in this area. Most of all, they are staunch student advocates who seek the best for those under their care, and extend themselves to all facets of life on campus, including dorm, athletics, advising, and as classroom teachers.
What do students think of IIP?
This is important to the IIP department, so we ask them for input and feedback. Each term students are required to submit course evaluations for each of their classes, and IIP is no exception. In this evaluation, students share their opinions. Here are just a few from last spring:
“I like the math game where the numbers need to total 24 that I play with Mr. W.; it helps me improve my skills.”
“My tutor is very easygoing and kind. Mr. S. teaches me math and science patiently.”
“Ms. S. knows I need a hacky sack break to help me concentrate.”
“Ms.D. liked sharing her interests with me. For example, she shared one of the books she just finished with me. Now that has become one of my favorite books.”
“My tutor cares personally about me, not just about school work but also my mental health. Ms. G. knows I was worried about peer pressure and she makes sure I don't give myself too much pressure.”
We are constantly seeking our students’ input on how we can create a better environment and program because it is important for students, especially in a 1:1 setting, to feel a degree of autonomy and a strong partnership with their tutors.
Want to know more?
I invite you to check out Rectory’s website to learn more about the specific programs we offer to learn if IIP is right for your student. In addition, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you personally if you have specific questions or concerns.