Parents and teachers working with students whose behavior challenges are impeding learning can breathe a little easier knowing there is an effective strategy to help.
According to Mrs. Rusi Sukenik and Mrs. Ellah Orevi-Greenberg of REACH, changing one’s behavior is possible. They agree that it’s difficult and challenging to achieve, but when following the ABC steps (The Antecedent Behavior Consequence Model), it is attainable.
Change is possible – The ABC’s of behavior
In a recent interactive workshop, Mrs. Sukenik and Mrs. Orevi-Greenberg discussed the step-by-step process of identifying a behavior of concern and how to modify it. The first step is to recognize the antecedent to the behavior, the trigger that sets off the problematic behavior. This requires that teachers describe the behavior using observable, nonjudgmental language rather than subjective language.
The consequences then reinforce the behavior itself. Positive behavior results in a positive response from others. In order for this to be effective, the response needs to be universal and appropriate – otherwise the child is receiving mixed messages regarding the desired particular behavior.
Following are some possible functions of behavior:
- the child wants something
- the child wants to escape/protest a situation
- the child wants attention
- the child has sensory issues (the child likes/does not like a particular feeling)
Understanding these is useful in helping teachers consider options of how to change antecedents and consequences.
Awareness of our responses to our children’s behavior is paramount to successfully helping them change a disruptive behavior.
Understanding the A, B, C’s of Behavior can be an important and valuable tool to a teacher’s strategy toolbox.
Data collection tools and methods to change a student’s problematic behavior
When it comes to helping a student overcome a challenging behavior, collecting data to first understand that behavior is a key step in the end goal of improvement.
Data collection is important because it helps us understand the problem. It also helps everyone supporting the student get on the same page for approaches to improving student behavior.
Data indicates whether interventions are really helping the students. Data should be collected:
- Before – to define the problem
- During – to monitor our intervention
- After – analyze and determine the next steps
Quantitative and qualitative data
There are many data-collection tools ideal for students that are both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data includes any data that can be counted such as a number or concrete amount. This includes:
- Frequency – how often do we see the behavior
- Duration – how long does the behavior last
- Intensity – what’s the level of the behavior
- Latency – how long did the behavior take to start
Qualitative data is non-statistical data gathered through interviews, observations and document analysis. This is usually collected in the form of words.
Choosing which type of data to collect
You can know which data to collect by determining what you want to find out.
Of course, the data is only as good as the fidelity with which it was collected. Therefore, everyone involved should have clarity about the data collection process form the start
Putting it all together – monitoring and improving student behaviors
This workshop was the third in a series of workshops studying student behaviors with the end goal of providing approaches for improvement. Educators were shown how to put all the knowledge learned in the previous classes together to create actual change in the classroom using a targeted behavioral intervention plan.
The stages of developing, implementing, and evaluating a behavior plan consist of the following:
An intervention plan requires a team and should never be developed in isolation. This decreases the probability of adult bias in interpretation of student behavior. The goal is to focus on student strengths so the student can be successful.
Consider thinking about the areas that are challenging for the student (lagging skills) to figure out what he/she can do to be successful. Then, identify behavioral targets so one can expect reasonable change. Use positive language so that a student will be more open to replacing the behavioral problems with positive replacement behaviors. It’s also important not to create token awards that become the end goal.
Identifying concerns, collecting objective data and developing a plan are the necessary steps toward positive behavior change. Ideally a plan is implemented for four to six weeks with fidelity across the school setting. Part of this plan includes communicating with the team, getting feedback and noting developments.
Over time, the team must evaluate, revise the plan, make the demands a bit harder until the plan is no longer needed for these behaviors since the student has mastered the skills. If there is no improvement, then it’s time to rethink the plan.
Progress monitoring tools are needed for four to six weeks of plan implementation, and evaluation and revision techniques are used to ensure reasonable change and positive student outcomes.
Though it may seem like a daunting task, changing a student’s behavior is possible.