How can behavioral support staff support and collaborate with general education teachers to address the needs of students with intensive behavioral needs?

Question: How can behavioral support staff support and collaborate with general education teachers to address the needs of students with intensive behavioral needs?

Answer: General education teachers need to feel confident and competent in dealing with behavior strategies in the classroom. They need to feel that the strategies are transparent, they’re clear – there’s a lot of clarity [and] there’s not a lot of complicated steps and stages that make them feel like it’s going to be not doable in the classroom. So in order to accomplish that, the behavior specialist or consultant needs to be part of an entire system of behavior support – not somebody who is like the ‘expert’ who pops in to tell the teacher what to do with a specific kid. So in order for that to happen, what we have found to be effective for building in teachers confidence and competence is [that] they gain knowledge of behavior science by the lower tiered interventions happening every single day in their classrooms. They learn about the value of pre-corrections, they learn how to prompt, they learn how to teach, they learn how to reinforce. Every day [it] is part of the routines they do in their building and the ‘behavior specialist,’ if you will, are part of the culture of building because they are working with the core curriculum of behavior. And then when it moves to a higher level of intervention and you have a child who needs an intensive behavior intervention, you’re not coming in out of left field to the teacher with something that sounds complicated and different from what they are doing every day. So for example, a Tier 2 intervention would be that a child would get a higher frequency and a scheduled prompt and perhaps reteach and reinforcement. But if the teacher is already comfortable with doing that, the person who’s facilitating the higher tiered intervention, we’ll call them the behavior consultant or the behavioral expert, is helping the teacher ramp up what they are already comfortable with doing. So it’s really the existence of the system in the building that makes the collaboration more effective. So now let’s move up to the intensive tier. At the intensive tier, there needs to be already a relationship of trust, and a relationship of credibility and a relationship of respect between the general education teacher and the behavior support or behavior competency people, either school psychologist, school social worker, counselor, behavior specialist, special education teacher. We’ll call them the person with ‘the behavioral capacity. So there already needs to be a relationship, there needs to be credibility, there needs to be respect. And in that context, the behavior consultant or the behavior specialist can work with the teacher, and the family, and the student in a highly intensive planning meeting where they analyze under what condition does this child need additional prompts or additional adjustments and on what schedule and for what reason. But if this is happening in a vacuum, and the teachers are all of a sudden brought in to this meeting with this behavioral language and behavioral knowledge versus, just like with reading, it’s what they’re already doing in their classroom with core curriculum, and they already have kids with it ramped up, by the time they get the Tier 3 type intensive intervention meeting and child with an IEP, they should already have some level of competence and confidence with behavior strategies. A second feature that leads [to] confidence and competence is what we call ‘Voice, Choice and Ownership.’ In other words, the person who’s responsible for delivering the intervention has to have a voice in choosing the strategies that have a contextual fit for them in their classroom. So in the old model, the behavior specialist comes in – you know, stopwatch and clipboard, takes down behavior data, goes back to their office (I’m exaggerating a bit perhaps) writes a report, calls in the teacher, and tells them what to do. In the model that is more systemic, the behavior consultant or behavior specialist, would absolutely take observation data, absolutely look at it, but present the data in the meeting in a manner of asking the teacher to be the one to validate what the data means. So in other words showing the data and asking the teacher, “What do you think this means?” And doing more questioning than directing, and that way you’ll get more contextual fit with your interventions. There isn’t only one ‘setting event’ intervention. There isn’t one way to deliver the instruction. There isn’t only once choice with the replacement behavior. There are lots of choices, and the person who’s responsible for doing it should make those choices under the guidance of a person with a high level of behavioral knowledge to make sure it makes sense. So just to summarize – we’re talking about teachers feeling confident, teachers feeling competent, interventions being transparent, clear, practical and efficient. And there needs to be a fit in the core curriculum for the teacher. So in summarizing that component, collaboration around intensive interventions requires that they be embedded in a social culture in the building where there’s already behavior intervention and behavior science happening at Tier 1. And the last feature which we learned from wrap around in person centered planning is ‘Voice, Choice, and Ownership.’ So the teacher, the person who’s supposed to do the intervention needs to have the most voice in the design. And the role the behavior specialist is to make sure that the right questions are asked, that the behavior intervention has all the necessary components and isn’t a single component intervention; and asks the guiding questions based on the data, but they are not the person who dictates exactly what the strategies are going to be. And in that way we get ‘Voice, Choice and Ownership,’ we get contextual fit, and we get the teacher feeling much more competent and confident.

Developed By: 
National Center on Intensive Intervention