Behavior Specialist

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MAGIC WAND

magic wand

My daughter called the other day to lament on her difficult day in her day care class with 2 ½ year olds. It seemed like she had a day of “NOs” and “don’t do that” and “keep your hands to yourself”. You know that kind of day…we’ve all had them. After a day like that I feel grumpy; the kids feel grumpy…no one is having fun. Soooo what to do…

Have you heard the saying, “The behavior you give the most attention to is the behavior most often repeated.” Think about that….  If you are having a day when you are disciplining or redirecting all day, you could possibly be reinforcing the inappropriate behavior! YIKES!

Research shows we are to give 6 positive interactions for every single negative interaction. Are you doing that? When I was a behavior consultant observing teacher/student interactions, I rarely saw a 6:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Think of your most challenging student. How many times do you redirect her?  If you are redirecting her, you are paying attention to inappropriate behavior. Now don’t get frustrated with me yet. Yes, you must redirect her. Absolutely! NOW are you making sure you are giving her 6 INTERACTIONS WHEN SHE IS DOING SOMETHING APPROPRIATELY? That’s the trick!

How do you get that many more positive interactions? LOOK FOR THEM! When she enters the room, greet her warmly. If she puts her backpack away, praise her. Get others in the school to notice her appropriate behaviors. Once I had a 5th grade student who was a behavior challenge so I developed a plan where 5 different people greeted him and chatted with him every morning BEFORE BREAKFAST. We were loading up for the day. It helped!

As my daughter and I talked, I recommended she get a “magic wand”. You know, the kind you buy with the Halloween costumes or in the toy section. Every time a child does something appropriately “ching” him on the head. Yes, you have to say, “ching”.

My daughter bought the magic wand and fancied it up with some ribbon (that’s her with her magic wand in the picture). The first day she tried it, the kids responded wonderfully! When a child asked to be “chinged on the head” (one child tapped her head and said, “head, head”), my daughter would tell them to do something nice like _____. The whole atmosphere in the room was now a positive fun place to be…for everyone!

Now, don’t make the mistake I made when I first used the magic wand. I had a group of kindergarten students sitting in the circle ready for math. One little guy was rolling on the floor. I said, “Oh magic wand, please help little guy sit nicely on his spot” and I chinged him. IT WORKED! He sat up instantly…but ALL MY OTHER STUDENTS FELL OVER AND STARTED ROLLING SO THEY COULD GET CHINGED! AAAAHHHHHH! Well, I quickly learned that magic wand only recognized students who were doing well.

There it is…a fun way to get a 6:1 ratio of positive interactions! Pay attention to the behavior you want repeated! HAVE FUN! CHINNNGGGG!

Behavior Flow Chart

luanne_general[1]

So often when a student does not act the way we think s/he should act, we immediately discipline the child. Sometimes that works. Other times it just frustrates us. When I was in graduate school at University of Kentucky working on a master’s degree in Emotional Behavioral Disorders, my professor, C. Michael Nelson shared a flow chart with us. It was an AH-HA moment for me. I’d like to share it with you.

Look at the chart below or print out a copy as I explain it here…. The teacher gives the student a direction/task/etc. If the students complies, praise the student (Easy, right?!)

If the teacher gives a direction but the student does not comply, figure out if you know with absolute certainty the student has the ability to complete the direction/task/etc. Often we assume the student knows or should know and we get frustrated when the child does not. If the child has the ability to complete the task, motivate him. Elementary teachers do a great job motivating students. As students get older, less emphasis is placed on motivation. I’m not sure why that is…I know I work much better when I am motivated. Motivation in middle and high school doesn’t mean pass out stickers. It may be a simple as a pat on the back, or extra social time at the end of class, etc. If the child does NOT know how to do the task or if you are not sure if the child has the skill, TEACH the skill/expectation.

If the child does NOT complete the task after you have tried motivating or teaching the skill, then you discipline.

Once there was a high school student who had the opportunity to earn extra credit by writing a paragraph about the daily political cartoon in the daily newspaper but failed to make any effort to do so. The teacher was frustrated that she “wasn’t even trying to pass the class”. I wondered if the student even knew what a political cartoon was and if she had access to a newspaper. Remember she had never demonstrated she had the ability to do this. So I took her into the school library. The librarian showed her where day old newspapers were kept so she could cut out the cartoon. I showed her where the political cartoon was in the newspaper. She was thankful. After learning this new skill, she never missed a day of cutting out the cartoon and writing a paragraph!

So think about this flow chart the next time you get frustrated when a student doesn’t comply.

BEHAVIOR FLOW CHART

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUICK & EASY BEHAVIOR INTERVENTION PLAN

luanne_general[1]

Welcome back! Did you try the Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Assessment? Remember, discovering the function of the student’s behavior is essential to resolving the inappropriate behavior. Now let’s look at what to do with what you learned about your student.

This Quick & Easy Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) looks at the whole child. It is not a punitive plan. The sections for the Quick & Easy Behavior Intervention Plan are:

 

  1. Health/Physical Concerns
  2. Prevention
    1. Environmental
    2. Reinforcement strategies
    3. Teaching
      1. Replacement skills
      2. New adaptive skills
      3. Consequences
        1. Punishment
        2. Safety/emergency plan

 A majority of the Quick & Easy Behavior Intervention Plan is positive, proactive and instructional! I love Kentucky Center for Instructional Discipline’s quote: “If you can predict it, you can plan for it. If you can plan for it, you can prevent it.” Whew! That’s puts a big burden on us, but that’s ok. We are the professional and have the tools to meet student needs.

Many behavior plans are punitive. The message tends to be “do this or you’ll be punished”. This type of plan does not address environmental factors or student needs.

I had a student (I’ll call him Joe) who was physically and verbally disruptive. As we analyzed the Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Analysis, we noticed Joe rarely received any positive comments from his family and teachers. One piece of the Quick & Easy Behavior Intervention Plan was to structure times of the day for school staff to have positive interactions with him. When he got off the bus in the morning, the staff person supervising this area looked for Joe and happily greeted him. Joe then walked to the cafeteria for breakfast and was greeted by any staff member in the hallway (all staff were included in this plan). As Joe went through the food line, each cafeteria worker greeted and chatted with him. The teacher on breakfast duty always visited with Joe and wished him a good day as he headed to class. Joe may have had a tough morning at home but by the time class started, Joe received 6 to 7 positive interactions each morning. We were overtly setting him up to start every day on a positive note. Now wouldn’t you want to start your day in such a positive manner?

This Quick & Easy Behavior Intervention Plan is designed to meet the child’s needs, teach the child acceptable behavior, and develop consequences for continued misbehavior. A sample plan and detailed directions are included with the Quick & Easy Behavior Intervention Plan.

Next time, I’ll talk about when to discipline and when to teach by showing you a Behavior Flow Chart. See you soon,

LuAnne

Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Assessment

FBA1

There’s a reason for every student’s behavior! Jack has not “lost his mind”. Jill is not “trying to drive you crazy”. He or she is trying to get something or avoid something. Now you have to be the detective and figure out what it is. Many teachers overlook this detective step and skip to a quick fix.

Imagine if you went to the doctor and complained of pain in your arm and the doctor just said to take some ibuprofen. Well, if your arm is broken, that ibuprofen will not work. This is the same thing for student behavior. If a student is not doing his school work, you may send him to time out. If he is avoiding doing school work because he doesn’t understand it, your discipline will not fix the problem. It is actually helping the student avoid work.

I call this a Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Assessment because it just takes a few minutes to do. This is not a formal assessment many specialists prefer. It’s for the classroom teacher who has to deal with tough behaviors all the time.

One of my favorite encounters with a 3rd grade teacher was when she stopped me in the hallway and explained a problem she was having with a student. Before I could say a thing, she went on to quickly analyze his behavior. She specifically described his behavior, said he acted out at specific times, she thought he was doing it because ____, and thought she could take care of the problem by ____. She then thanked me for the help! I said, “You’re welcome!” and smiled all the way to my classroom. She did a Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Assessment right there in the hallway in less than 5 minutes!

Let’s get started! Download Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Assessment Teacher Reflection. Use this list to help you analyze what is going on.

In the next few days, I will show you how to use this Quick & Easy Functional Behavior Assessment and turn it into a behavior intervention plan.

See you soon, LuAnne

 

BEST PRACTICE

raising hands

Today, teachers face enormous pressure to raise test scores. We feel like we never have enough time to get to all our content. You can gain more time to teach content by mastering the skills listed below! This list of skills is essential to a well run classroom. Take the year to work on this…just work on a couple at a time so you can truly master the skill.

Download a teacher-friendly copy here.

Good luck, LuAnne

 

 

Your district has many expert teachers. We encourage you to seek out these experts and learn their technique. If you are not sure who the expert is, ask your mentor, your administrator, or your peers.

As you observe/interview,

• Make note of what the expert does.

• How can you modify that technique to suit your style?

• How effectively are you implementing it?

In your building/district, WHO is the best with…

…using humor well while teaching?

…using transitions in the classroom and throughout the building?

…teaching classroom routines well?

…motivating students in class?

…greeting students as they arrive each morning/each class period?

…giving tons of positive feedback to students (maintains at least a 6:1 positive/negative ratio of interaction)?

…actively supervising throughout the instructional activity?

…having clear, positively stated and posted classroom behavior expectations?

…managing minor rule violations quickly and discretely?

…precorrecting predictable student problem behaviors?

…managing major rule violations?

…utilizing peer tutors?

…managing homework?

…providing specific feedback after analyzing student work?

…using bell ringer activities or flashback review?

…posting academic/learning objective for each lesson/period?

…implementing active student engagement techniques?

…managing instructional time efficiently and effectively?

…using various levels of questioning?

…using a unique strategy to stimulate learning?

…using multiple learning styles in teaching?

…challenging the gifted learner?

…assessing using various assessment styles?

…preparing well developed lesson plans?

…checking students for content mastery continuously?

…helping underachieving students?

…collaborating/co-teaching well?

…working with the learner with special learning needs?

…writing/implementing open response questions?

…writing/implementing on-demand prompts?

…implementing exit slips?

…integrating technology into instruction?

…communicating with parents?

Do you develop weekly lesson plans with your content partner?

Do you analyze student work at least weekly with your content partner?

About THE THREE SQUARE PEGS

Pegs with schoolhouse

One School Nurse + One Behavior Specialist + One School Psychologist =

The Untested ESSENTIALS of Learning

A square peg in a round hole is an idiomatic expression which describes the unusual individualist who could not fit into a niche of his or her society.[1] ^ Wallace, Irving. (1957) The Square Pegs: Some Americans Who Dared to be Different, p. 10.

Above found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_peg_in_a_round_hole

 Most employees of school districts are… [insert a drum roll here]…teachers.  And the customers of their expertise are the wonderful students who walk through the doors of their respective schools each day, ready to learn all the fascinating things teachers have prepared to teach.

[Insert the sound of screeching brakes] Hold on a minute!

What happens if a student walks through the doors of the school and is not 100% ready to learn? What if the student is not even 50% ready to learn? What if the student is hungry? Sleep deprived? Scared because yesterday another student threatened to beat him up? Worried because her mother’s boyfriend threw her mother around the kitchen last night? Angry because her family’s electricity was turned off the night before? Sad because his grandfather is dying? What if the student, himself, is sick? Or has a learning disability? Or has attention span issues? Or…well, you get the point.  The list of hypotheticals is endless.

In an average day in a classroom of 25 students, there are probably at least 5-6 students who have some sort of barrier that interferes with his or her ability to learn academics optimally.  That’s where we come in…The 3 Square Pegs. Our jobs are to provide support services to students, their families, and the teaching staff so that teachers are able to teach, and more importantly, students are able to maximize learning.

What can you expect from our blog? Our focus will be on the multitude of untested essentials that are required for learning to occur.  Head lice? Check. Classroom design? Check. Bully Prevention? Check. De-escalation strategies? Check. And on and on the list goes. These essentials will be in the form of a host of practices at the district, school, classroom, and individual student levels.  With our 60+ years of collective experience in helping teachers teach and students learn, we think we have something to offer.

We are blessed to work in a school district that has vision. To be a small, rural school district with approximately 2,600 students, having a Nurse Practitioner designated as the district’s Director of the Coordinated School Health Program, a School Psychologist functioning as a district-wide counselor to support our excellent guidance counselors, and a Behavior Consultant who is currently the Director of our Alternative Education Program, we consider ourselves rather unique.

Per the meaning of “A square peg in a round hole”, we are unusual individualists who do not fit into a niche of our society (aka, schools). Don’t confuse our “not fitting neatly into our educational society” as meaning that we are not wanted there or that we don’t want to be there! We are welcomed and appreciated by the educators with whom we have the privilege of working. We just happen to think differently in some respects. While we all want the best for our students, our focus is on the many foundational essentials required for learning to even be an option.  Teachers teach.  They are under tremendous pressure to improve achievement and adhere to new national standards. The three of us provide support services, direct and indirect, to our district’s excellent teachers and awesome students. The result? Students who, for the most part, come to school happy, healthy, and ready to learn.  Not BECAUSE of us, but with our help, these students achieve more academic, behavioral, and social/emotional success.

What can you expect in the days and weeks to come? The format of our blog, while it has the common thread of addressing barriers to learning, will shift as each of us take on the responsibility of writing one or two blog entries per week.