Jeremy Koselak has worked for eleven years with at-risk high school students across all content areas, in a variety of settings, with a focus on mathematics. In 2003, he was recognized as Teacher of the Year by the Colorado Association of Family and Children Agencies. He is currently the RtI coordinator and director of the Student Support Center at an urban high school. Read below for an Author Spotlight on Jeremy Koselak, author of Transforming High Schools through Response to Intervention: Lessons Learned and a Pathway Forward.
Eye On Education: What is one common misconception about RtI?
Jeremy Koselak: One common misconception about RtI (and perhaps its greatest detractor) is that RtI is all about interventions. Many schools begin the RtI process in a similar way, by looking at interventions and what tiers they fit in, evaluating the difference between each tier (intensity, duration, frequency), and examining what data is necessary to document the support. RtI doesn’t thrive in this atmosphere because schools are then allowed to reduce their focus upon quality instruction and curriculum (tier 1). When schools ignore the importance of ensuring a razor-like focus upon the essentials in favor of fancy intervention programs, RtI fails and students suffer. We should work to re-conceptualize RtI as "Response to Instruction" and get back to the basics.
EOE: What is one distinguishing factor of high school level RtI compared to elementary/middle school?
JK: High schools are strictly governed by Carnegie credits and students need a certain amount of credits from each subject to graduate. For students in need of layers of reading and math support, there often isn't enough time in the school day to remediate those concerns without jeopardizing credit acquisition. Therefore high schools are often faced with the dilemma of helping struggling students graduate or helping them master basic skills they will likely need for a successful adult life. Unfortunately, those goals are often difficult to achieve simultaneously.
EOE: What led you to dedicate your career to working with at-risk students?
JK: As a former "at-risk" student myself, I benefited from the impact of a teacher taking the time to reach out. She reached out with respect, patience and humor. If she hadn't, who knows where I would have ended up. Many times I feel I can relate to the students and I always remember the power of humor and the importance of conveying a high level of respect and patience while working them. It is exceptionally rewarding to work with students in need of strong support and guidance. The relationships you build with them, sharing in success, helping to overcome significant obstacles, make the "job" an important and satisfying one.
EOE: Who are your top 5 authors?
JK: In regards to educational literature: Mike Schmoker, Douglas Reeves, Robert Marzano, Rick Dufour and Todd Whitaker. Non-education related: Douglas Adams, Joseph Campbell, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Ellis, and John Krakauer.
EOE: Name the book you most want to read again for the first time.
JK: The Closing of the American Mind by Alan Bloom
EOE: What’s your favorite thing about Colorado?
JK: All the amazing things to do and see on a teacher’s budget! The outdoors is very accessible and all we have to do is prioritize and appreciate getting outside to hike, camp, bike, ski, etc.