“An intervention period? There’s no time for that.”

“Flexible time in our bell schedule sounds great…but I don’t know where to start.”

There’s no denying it: school schedules are busy.

Between classes, passing periods, lunches, activities, pep rallies, and drills…every minute at school is precious.

Given this, administrators, teachers, and parents want to know:

  • “How can we increase student achievement?”
  • “Where can we find time to support struggling students?”

This is where an intervention period comes in.

An intervention or flex period can maximize student choice, build school-wide relationships, and increase learner engagement.

Best practices for how to run an intervention period include determining a purpose, establishing norms, drafting a new schedule, and getting buy-in from the community.

What is an intervention period?

An intervention period is a time during the school day when students receive supplementary instruction without interrupting the core curriculum. These interventions address gaps in student achievement.

Flex time works outside of the typical classroom structure. These periods last anywhere from 20-50 minutes. They can occur daily, once a week, or in a block schedule.

Other “intervention period” names include WIN (What I Need) Time, homeroom, activity period, tutorials period, advisory time, enrichment time, SMART Lunch, or flex time.

What happens during an intervention period?

Schools can run a variety of programs during an intervention period. Common interventions include:

  • RTI (Response to Intervention)
  • Small group tutoring, reteaching, reviewing, or retesting
  • Academic advisory meetings
  • Time to do homework or makeup assignments
  • Extracurricular or special events
  • Social-emotional, life skills, or enrichment lessons
  • College and career readiness activities
  • Other data-driven strategies like MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports)

There is no one-size-fits-all intervention period curriculum plan.

Overall, the best intervention periods are adaptable, timely, and implement best practices for curriculum and instruction. An effective intervention period meets the unique needs of your students, campus, and district. For example:

Campus Type Intervention Plan
School A is a small alternative school with a highly at-risk population. This school uses its intervention period for social-emotional lessons with advisory teachers and counselors once a week.
School B is a large middle school where most students do at least one after-school activity. This campus provides students with choices during their daily flex time. Students can work on missing assignments, get tutoring from available teachers, or join a club.

The benefits of intervention periods

There is a cost-benefit analysis for running an intervention period. Intervention time removes minutes from other periods or activities but provides unique benefits such as:

  • Provides targeted support for students
  • Helps teachers identify students to refer for 504 or SPED accommodations
  • Builds rapport between teachers and students
  • Promotes student voice and choice
  • Assists with student progress monitoring
  • Helps students improve skills in a low-stakes environment
  • Gives teachers extra time to fill learning gaps

How to run an intervention period (step-by-step)

1. Determine your goal and purpose
2. Name the intervention period
3. Establish roles for administrators, teachers, and students
4. Draft a new master bell schedule
5. Plan a flexible scheduling system
6. Communicate plans with stakeholders
7. Analyze data and adjust

If you’re interested in starting a flex time at your campus but need to know where to begin, we’ve gathered the steps to get you started.

1. Determine your goal and purpose

Goal setting is the key to transforming your intervention period from “just another program” into an effective instructional practice. Your unique goal and purpose will guide every step of the planning process.

To set your goal and purpose, identify what your campus needs the most. Typically, you will target academic, social-emotional, or behavioral improvement.

While targeting multiple goals and purposes would be great, consider starting small and expanding slowly. Starting small will minimize wasted time and allow you to track progress efficiently.

For example: Your school’s average standardized math and English scores are well below proficiency levels. Due to this, you decide that your intervention will target academic improvement in these subject areas.

You can use the following sentence stems to establish your goal and purpose:

  • At [school name], students will benefit most from a(n) [academic, social-emotional, or behavioral] intervention to improve [explain what outcomes you are targeting].
  • Students at [school name] struggle the most with [insert what they are struggling with]. An intervention period targeting [insert purpose] will [insert student outcomes].

Remember to make your goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely), so you can monitor and adjust your progress.

2. Name the intervention period

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when implementing an intervention is getting buy-in from students. Students may view flex time as “free time” or a punishment.

That’s why the name of your intervention period is a vital part of marketing or “selling” the plan to your campus. A good name establishes positive expectations for student performance and behavior.

Note: Avoid labeling the intervention based on achievement levels. For example, “Flex Time Tier 1” or “Flex Time Tier 3” and so on. Doing this can make students feel ashamed of what placement they receive or promote comparison.

Consider naming the intervention after your school mascot, like “Panther Time” or something positive like “WIN Period.” The name you choose should align with your goal and purpose.

You can shortlist name ideas, then request feedback through a survey from staff and (optionally) parents and students. Involving your campus in the naming process will establish buy-in from the beginning stages.

You can get in-depth naming ideas here: Names for Intervention Time.

3. Establish roles for administrators, teachers, and students

Your Content Goes HereFor an intervention period to run smoothly and effectively, every person on campus should be engaged and have a clearly defined role.

Here are some suggestions for role expectations:

  • Administration. Administrators are responsible for building the schedule, developing program goals, and analyzing data about student progress. When the flex period begins, administrators might assist with monitoring the halls and troubleshooting problems as they arise.
  • Teachers. During the planning phase, teachers should spend time developing lessons. When the intervention begins, teachers will lead classes, clubs, study halls, and more in the classroom. Consider teaming teachers across different grade levels or subject matters to promote an interdisciplinary approach.
  • Students. Students will be responsible for attending the assigned flex period and engaging in class. Some schools may give students a choice of where they want to go. If this is the case, students must sign up with a teacher or fill out a form to attend a preferred flex period.

4. Draft a new master bell schedule

Next, you will need to start planning logistics.

First, decide how often the intervention period will happen and how long the period will be. Will it occur every day, once a week, every other day, or at another frequency? There is no golden rule for this decision. However, you should consider your purpose and align the frequency and length to match.

For example: A school with academic goals may benefit from a shorter (25 minutes) intervention period every day for reviewing and reteaching purposes. Another school with social-emotional and advisory goals might schedule a longer (50 minutes) flex time once a week.

Next, you must fit the flex time into the master bell schedule. You can consider:

  • Shortening passing periods or class times by a few minutes
  • Extending your school start or end time
  • Splitting students into two groups for lunch (while group A is at lunch, group B will be in an intervention period, and vice versa)
  • Remove one period altogether and substitute an intervention class time in its place

View example schedule ideas here: Flex Time in Schools.

Finally, decide on a timeline for the intervention roll-out. Will you wait until a new year or semester? Or, will you begin as soon as possible? Establish a deadline to guide your preparations.

5. Plan a flexible scheduling system

Flex time will be more fluid than a traditional period. However, teachers will still need a way to know how many students will be in their class. They will also need a method to take attendance. Consider using software to help schedule students flexibly.

Note: It’s a good idea to have capacity limits to avoid unbalanced classes (one teacher with 45 students and another with 5). Using a tool like Enriching Students, you can set a seat count for teachers during flex time.

If you are working with an RTI or MTSS model, begin categorizing students into intervention levels and assigning them to teachers. Finally, decide where students will go once they demonstrate tier mastery.

6. Communicate plans with stakeholders

Now that you have defined your purpose, know how logistics will operate, and understand campus roles, you can begin announcing your plans.

Consider writing out your proposed intervention plan on a document. This document will outline procedures, schedule changes, campus norms, and more. Writing an FAQ section to help anticipate questions from your stakeholders would be useful.

If you are concerned about buy-in from teachers, you can involve them in the planning process. For example, you can ask teachers to vote on a name or choose between multiple schedule options.

Once you have finalized everything, announce your plans through your website, social media, email, and anywhere else you communicate with the community. Give everyone time to prepare for the schedule adjustment to boost community excitement.

7. Analyze data and adjust

In education, we know that plans do not always work perfectly the first time we try. You might hit a few bumps in the road when implementing a brand-new intervention program.

Don’t worry: Developing a functional program that meets your school’s goals and purposes might take some time and a few adjustments.

Regularly revisit your goal(s) to monitor progress and stay on track. Data-driven decisions will help you decide if you should continue with the same plan, change your actions, or remove the program altogether.

Since school time is precious, it’s vital to utilize it carefully. Monitoring your data will help guarantee effective time usage.

Practices to avoid when planning an intervention period

Although it will take time to develop an effective intervention, it is worth it. Avoid these practices when planning to increase your chances of success:

  1. Don’t rush the process. Your program might fail if you rush, don’t get buy-in from stakeholders, or take on too much too fast.
  2. Don’t give up. If everything doesn’t go right the first time, don’t give up immediately. It might take a few semesters or years to perfect your process.
  3. Don’t forget your goals. An intervention period can quickly become an ineffective “chill time” without guidance and monitoring. Stay vigilant and let your program goal(s) guide your day-to-day operations.

Intervention planning resource

Use this document to help draft an initial intervention plan for your campus. View and print a pdf worksheet version of this resource to use with your teams.

Questions: Your Responses:
1. Have we established a clear goal and purpose? What are they?
2. How long will the intervention time be? Will it occur every day or only on certain days?
3. What is the name of our intervention period? Does this match the stated goal and purpose?
4. How will we adapt our bell schedule?
5. How will we schedule students and monitor attendance?
6. Where will administrators, students, and staff be located? What is everyone’s role?
7. How do we get buy-in from our stakeholders (students, teachers, and parents)?
8. How will we monitor progress toward our stated goal?

Final Considerations

You should now understand intervention periods, why they are essential, and how to plan one.

Planning an intervention period takes dedication and hard work. But…it is all worth it. Through an intervention period, you can improve your school culture and make a positive difference in students’ lives.