Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Seclusion Rooms, Suspension, Corporal Punishment, OH MY!

Or Why I LOVE Functional Behavior Assessments
What is a Functional Behavior Assessment? From The Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice ( http://cecp.air.org/fba/ ):

Afunctional behavioral assessment looks beyond the behavior itself. The focus when conducting a functional behavioral assessment is on identifying significant, pupil-specific social, affective, cognitive, and/or environmental factors associated with the occurrence (and non-occurrence) of specific behaviors. This broader perspective offers a better understanding of the function or purpose behind student behavior. Behavioral intervention plans based on an understanding of "why" a student misbehaves are extremely useful in addressing a wide range of problem behaviors.

I can't tell you how many school meetings I've gone to where negative behavior comes up as a topic someone at the school is chomping at the bit to discuss. And they do discuss it, often times quite rudely,inappropriately, and in great detail.

I've been there. In a classroom with 30 kids. I've gotten frustrated with students before. I can understand why children get suspended, locked in isolation rooms, paddled, and arrested, but I don't have to accept it. Not for any child. Not at any school. Special needs child, out-of-control school, urban school, poor child. Not for any child. And schools should not tolerate it.

When I ask the team at these school meetings if they've done a functional behavior assessment they usually get quite defensive, or worse, don't know what I'm talking about or tell me their district doesn't "do" functional behavior assessments. Even if the district encourages fba's (and I haven't seen this a lot in MS, TN, or AR), teachers are often reluctant to carry one out because it means documentation, observation, and paperwork and, did they mention they've had it up to here with that student?!

But teachers, when removed from stressful working conditions, really do want what's best for the child and for their classes. With proper support and training, teachers can revolutionize discipline procedures in public schools. Every school district should have in-service training on fba's and positive behavioral intervention and support and how to carry them out. Additionally, teachers should be better supported through common planning times, adequate planning time, smaller classes, flexibility to use engaging teaching and learning methods, and support from administrators. With this support teachers have the work environment needed to go beyond the behavior, get to know the student better, and prevent unwanted behavior.

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