How YOU Can Work SMARTER Not Harder

Instruction needs to be systematic, multisensory, applied, research-based, targeted, explicit and realistic if we want to see our struggling students making growth.

We’re sure that you have heard it before. “You should be working smarter, not harder!” It’s a fairly common expression that most people use to help motivate them to be more efficient and stop fumbling around in their work.

…but it’s more than that.

We are going to assume that you are a passionate and driven therapist/educator. You are on a site dedicated to helping professionals help kids after all. We know that you would do anything for your students.

If you are anything like us, you have probably been up WAY past your ideal bedtime curating lesson plans and resources. You have felt the gut-wrenching feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. You have probably tossed and turned at night because you were up worrying that you weren’t doing something right for that one student who just doesn’t seem to get it.

We get it.

We’ve been there too.

…and we didn’t like feeling like that.

So we spent years working and trying to figure out what we could be doing better, not just for our students, but also for us.

That’s how we came up with “work SMARTER not harder,” but when we say it, SMARTER has a much deeper meaning…It’s an acronym.

Each letter stands for something we have found to be critical in our intervention if we wanted to see student growth, but not lose our sanity along the way.

Over the next few weeks, we will be diving into each of these “criteria” and letting you in on the secret. Not to sound totally corny, but this has genuinely changed our lives. Now that we know how instrumental it can be, we want to shout it from the rooftops so no other professional burns out before they are ready to stop helping kids.

In order to work SMARTER, you’re intervention needs to be:


Instruction needs to be happening in an organized way. We know that students learn best when we start at the most foundational skills, fill them in, and then work our way up.


Kids learn really well when more than one sense is engaged (instead of just hearing/seeing the information).


One of the biggest intervention tragedies, is when students don’t immediately apply the skill. When students learn something and don’t generalize it, they are more likely to forget to apply it, or, lose the skill altogether.


While there are several great programs out there to help with literacy instruction, there are also several that aren’t supported by research. These “pseudo-science” based programs are not guaranteed to help and make false promises. Make sure that the program you’re using (or your child’s teachers/therapists are using) is supported by research.


Whenever we are doing intervention, it is crucial that we target it to fit the needs of our students. The best way to do this is to make sure that you are tracking data and progress monitoring consistently.


We never expect our students to just “pick-up” on things. Research tells us that we have to be explaining each rule in detail and supporting the students in putting all of the pieces together. We can’t assume that they will learn a skill if we don’t clearly state it (i.e. when we teach students vowels, we can’t just assume they will understand that every other letter is a consonant).


This last letter applies to students, but also to you. While we want to make sure that we are realistic in our expectation for students’ workload, growth, etc. we also need to be realistic in what we can do as interventionists/educators. The last letter of SMARTER is to remind you to give yourself some grace. No one can be perfect every single day, creating perfect individualized lesson plans for every single child. As much as we would like to, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Putting it all together

When you take all of these criteria together, you not only get really effective instruction, but it makes your life as the instructor WORLDS easier.

Make sure you check back over the next few weeks to get a deeper look into each of the letters in SMARTER and what they mean! We will also be diving deeper into these 7 steps and how to make them work for your students in our next FREE, online training, 7 Steps to Reading Instruction that Works! We would love to see you there. >> Click here <<

Mikayla StoreyComment