Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Positive Relationships

24

Aug

Improving Your Parent-Outreach Strategy

Summary:  This article provides suggestions and strategies for communicating with parents.  Most of these communication methods use technology and cellphone apps, classroom blogs, and websites to keep parents in the loop, reduce your workload, and boost student engagement.

Source:  Jeff Knutson, Edutopia, August 23, 2017

Categories:  Parent Engagement, Technology, Positive Relationships, Student Achievement

23

Aug

Helping Teachers Thrive

Summary:  This article offers suggestions for school leaders to help their teachers build resilience as the new school year starts.  This is important in weathering the day-to-day storms but it also helps teachers to thrive!

Source:  Elena Agullar, Edutopia, August 21. 2017

Categories:  Leadership Qualities, Emotional Intelligence, Classroom Practice, Performance Values, Positive Relationships

23

Aug

Student Achievement Depends Upon Faculty Relationships and Trusted Leaders

Summary:  This article points out the importance of relationships and trust as a necessary attribute for school leaders.  Drawing on an article by Steven Covey, the writers emphasize the importance of trust for leaders to be effective.

Source: Jill Berkowitz and Ann Myers, Education Week, August 20, 2017

Categories:  Leadership Qualities, Positive Relationships, Core Values, School Culture/Climate

22

Aug

Promoting Student Independence & Successful Inclusion through Systematic Use and Fading of Supports

By Amy Golden, Behavior Therapy Associates (www.BehaviorTherapyAssociates.com)

 

Being able to be as independent as possible often substantially impacts future success in all aspects of life (Causton-Theoharis, 2009; Hume, Loftin, & Lantz, 2009). Therefore, as a student moves through adolescence, it is essential for the educational team and family to place increasing emphasis on promoting student independence. This should be carefully considered when developing the individualized educational plan (IEP) for the student.

IEPs often focus on short-term goals and objectives projected for the year ahead, with supports and services to help the student achieve those skills. However, it is suggested that the IEP should be developed as a plan emphasizing independence, with long-term goals always on the forefront of the discussion. With this framework in mind, the team should focus on supports the student needs now to ultimately require less intrusive supports in the future. Goals for independent functional skills should be included in addition to those that are academically oriented. A variety of accommodations and modifications should center on promoting both student progress and independence (Asher, Gordon, Selbst & Cooperberg, 2010; Twachtman-Cullen, 2000). Areas of independence may include behaviors such as initiating tasks, transitioning between activities or locations, organizing materials, caring for one’s own daily needs, and more.

Paraprofessionals are routinely assigned to support students with autism spectrum disorders in the school environment (Giangreco, Halvorsen, Doyle, & Broer, 2004).  There are many clear advantages and disadvantages to this approach.  Paraprofessionals often provide the assistance students require to access less restrictive settings.  Some of their responsibilities may include taking the lead for implementing behavior plans, gathering important information about the student’s skills and deficits, promoting social interactions with peers, and collecting data (Twachtman-Cullen, 2000).  

A key advantage of the use of paraprofessional supports includes the ability to promote generalization for the student across environments. Having detailed knowledge of the student’s abilities and challenges allows them to plan ahead as well as prepare to assist the student in new situations and settings. While these are all reasonable tasks and often necessary benefits, providing 1:1 adult assistance can also be considered most restrictive and significantly impact the student’s autonomy. Peers may be less likely to approach and interact with the student due to an adult’s presence (Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland, 1997). The student may engage in spontaneous conversation more readily with the adult, creating an unnatural division from the student’s classmates. The potential for prompt dependency is also heightened when an adult is always present (Causton-Theoharis, 2009). Best intentions to provide support for the individual may result in too much being done for the student or the use of intrusive prompts without a careful fading plan.

Therefore, prior to establishing the need for 1:1 staffing, a thorough assessment of the specific areas for support should be completed. Teams should convene to determine what they anticipate achieving by using 1:1 supports and review if these needs can be met more effectively in other ways to promote student independence (Causton-Theoharis, 2009). For example, students may benefit from using communication devices, technology, additional visual cues, peer modeling, and environmental adaptations. Additionally, providing teachers and paraprofessionals with more advanced training can encourage the use of alternative and creative ways to assist the student (Stockall, 2014; Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland, 1997). Instructing staff on the principles of applied behavior analysis, such as content included in the training for Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), can improve upon educators’ utilization of effective prompting and fading strategies (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2013).

Once 1:1 support is in place for a student, collecting data on the paraprofessional’s role can provide great insight into the student’s ongoing needs.  While it is customary to collect data focusing on student behavior, it is suggested that staff also self-monitor their own involvement with the student throughout the day.  Sample content may include the types of prompts being used, the number of prompts required, and the proximity of the paraprofessional to the student.  This information can be used to describe how the services are being used to support the student and point to areas in which the student requires further assistance.  For example, if a student has consistent difficulty with unpacking and organizing his belongings each day, a visual list or schedule can be implemented to orient the student to the required tasks with the goal of gradually removing the adult from the prompt. The visual prompt can remain in place long-term and allow the student to work independent of adult assistance. Continuous documentation indicating the need for verbal prompting can signal a potential concern, thus leading to the development of new intervention strategies specific to promoting self-sufficiency for the student.

Ongoing assessment should also help to determine if the 1:1 support is needed throughout the entire day or just for specific subjects or activities.  By reviewing the student’s schedule and targeted needs across environments, the paraprofessional can be scheduled for support only when necessary.  Thus, student independence can be promoted by fading the adult support from specific activities or subjects.  Fading may be done gradually, with the paraprofessional taking increasingly greater steps away from supporting the individual in each setting.  For example, a student may be accustomed to being escorted to the bathroom, between classes, or to the bus at the end of the day.  A plan for promoting the student’s independence would consider whether the student could learn to navigate these transitions on their own or perhaps with a peer.  Rather than relying on the adult to prompt the student, alternate strategies should be investigated.

As educational teams plan how to support students, focusing on long-term goals for greater independence will serve a student well by preparing him/her for the future.  Collecting data throughout the fading process can help to pinpoint any new concerns, allowing the team to consider novel strategies for helping the student and maximizing opportunities for self-sufficiency.

References

Asher, M. J., Gordon, S. B., Selbst, M.C., Cooperberg, M. (2010). The Behavior Problems Resource Kit: Forms and Procedures for Identification, Measurement, and Intervention. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Behavior Analyst Certification Board (2013). Registered Behavior Technician Task List

Causton-Theoharis, J.N. (2009). The golden rule of providing support in inclusive classrooms: Support others as you would wish to be supported.  Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(2), 36-43.

Doyle, M. B. (2008). The paraprofessional’s guide to the inclusive classroom: Working as a team (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes

Giangreco, M.F. & Broer, S.M. (2007). School-based screening to determine overreliance on paraprofessionals.  Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22(3).

Giangreco, M.F., Edelman, S., Luiselli, T.E., & MacFarland, S.Z. (1997). Helping or hovering? Effects of instructional assistant proximity on students with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 64, 7–18.

Giangreco, M.F., Halvorsen, A.T., Doyle, M.B. & Broer, S.M. (2004). Alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals in inclusive schools.  Journal of Special Education Leadership, 17(2), 82-90.

Hume, K., Loftin, R. & Lantz, J. (2009).  Increasing independence in autism spectrum disorders: A review of three focused interventions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(9), 1329-1338.

Stockall, N. S. (2014). When an aide really becomes an aid: Providing professional development for special education paraprofessionals. Teaching exceptional children46(6), 197-205.

Twachtman-Cullen, D. (2000). How to be a para pro: A comprehensive training manual for paraprofessionals. Higganum, CT: Starfish Specialty.

About the Author

Amy Golden, M.S., BCBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at St. Cloud State University.  agolden@behaviortherapyassociates.com

 

21

Aug

How to Combat a Negative Climate by Promoting Respect and Understanding

Summary:  This article by CASEL makes a statement about how respect and understanding is needed in this time of negativity in the aftermath of the Charlottesville incidents earlier this month.  The article also provides resources for addressing hate and racism in the classroom as well as resources supporting SEL.

Source:  CASEL, August 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Positive Relationships, Educational Equity, SEL Basics, Empathy

18

Aug

Districts Start School Year With Thoughts on How to Handle Charlottesville Protests

Summary:  This article provides some resources and ideas for dealing with the Charlottesville protests and other controversial subjects in the classroom.  Experts recommend administrators provide support and PD to teachers on addressing difficult subjects.

Source:  Linda Jacobson, Education DIVE, August 17, 2017

Categories:  Education Equity, Professional Development, Core Values, Positive Relationships, School Culture/Climate

18

Aug

Relationships Matter More Than Rules

Summary:  This article focuses on the importance of building positive relationships in a classroom in order to transform it into a community.  The author suggests several strategies for starting the school year by building strong relationships.

Source:  Rebecca Alber, Edutopia, August 16, 2017

Categories:  Positive Relationships, Core Values, Classroom Practice, Codes of Conduct, School Culture/Climate

16

Aug

Charlottesville VA

The First Thing Teachers Should Do When School Starts is Talk About Hatred in America. Here’s help.

Summary:  This article from the Washington Post presents some ideas about how to handle the inevitable questions from students about Charlottesville as school begins this year.  There are many resources that are listed in the article that may be helpful in guiding discussions as schools start the 2017-18 year.

Source: Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, August 13, 2017

Categories:  Core Values, Educational Equity, Classroom Practice, Empathy, Positive Relationships, Character Education

16

Aug

3 Important School Leadership Lessons From Charlottesville

Summary:  This article presents a reaction to the events in Charlottesville, VA on August 12 and how school leaders might use these events as a springboard to teaching, communicating, and focusing on understanding all students.

Source:  JIll Berkowitz and Ann Myers, Education Week, August 15, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, Educational Equity, Core Values, Positive Relationships, Character Education

16

Aug

HS Students

Yes, Race and Politics Belong in the Classroom

Summary:  This article deals with how teachers can foster a classroom environment that allows for discussion of controversial issues both in and out of school.  The author offers ten tips for teachers to engage students in difficult conversations.

Source:  H. Richard Milner IV, Education Week, August 15, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, Positive Relationships, Educational Equity, Student Engagement