Changing Times

Posted by Stephanie Lawless on 1/11/2019 7:00:00 AM

A few days ago I heard someone on the radio say, “thirty is the new twenty” which immediately made me think, “twenty must be the new ten.”  Then, because this is how my brain works, I started thinking about how much we change in the span of ten years. The difference between zero to ten and ten to twenty is such drastic changes. Watching my boys growing up I find all of their changes infuriatingly wonderful.  In my article about the Motivation Formula I shared how difficult it is to motivate my youngest son (still not toilet trained by the way). There are day to day challenges, we also see long term changes. Things that worked last year don’t work this year. Both of my boys know how to open the child locks on our doors and can take down the babygate faster than their grandparents.  Everytime we have new babysitters we start off by telling them the new tricks to get through the night. Each stage of development brings a new set of challenges and a new strategies for parenting. And while this might make me want to pull my hair out, I know it is an important part of growing up.

Let’s just pretend for a moment that I am one of those organized people who actually writes down directions for a babysitter. When she came to my house I could give her a sheet and say, “This is everything you need to know about my boys and how to keep them calm, quiet, and happy.”  She would know what to expect and what to do.

Now, fast forward a year. When she shows up to babysit, I would not be able to hand her the same sheet of directions and expect everything to work. My boys would have changed, grown, progressed.  She would need an updated plan to address their new needs. (Realistically, I might say, “Pizza is on the counter, B knows how to open the child lock on the door now, oh and by the way, we got a dog. Good luck.”)

Shifting to the classroom model

Option One: I have a student in first grade, who struggles with behavior. I use the new FBA/BIP guidance to write a fantastic behavior intervention plan. I progress monitor, I follow the plan, and I do everything right. He improves. Then he moves to second grade. The second-grade teacher follows the plan, but maybe not so closely because it is starting to not work as well.  Third grade, the plan does not work anymore so the third-grade teacher does other things. The fourth-grade teacher doesn’t even know there was a plan. She tries to do the things the third-grade teacher thought might help, but is really struggling. The fourth-grade teacher is getting very frustrated. Somebody asks if the student has a behavior plan and suggests an FBA. They do some digging and find he had a BIP in first grade. They try to put the plan in place but it does not work anymore. Must be a bad plan, must be a bad kid.

Option Two:  I have a student in first grade, who struggles with behavior. I use the new FBA/BIP guidance to write a fantastic behavior intervention plan. I progress monitor, I follow the plan.  I do everything right. He improves. When he is transitioning to second grade I meet with the teacher and we talk about how this plan can be adapted to fit his needs in the second-grade setting. We adjust the plan, we follow the plan, we progress monitor. He struggles a bit at the beginning of the year but settles in quickly. The second-grade teacher adjusts the plan and revisits in January to make sure it is still on track. At the end of the year, the team meets with the third-grade teacher. They review the plan to see if adjustments are necessary to meet the current needs of the student and the third-grade teacher’s teaching style. They adjust, they follow the plan, they progress monitor. He struggles a bit at the beginning of the year but settles in faster this year than last. The third-grade teacher does not have to do much adjusting because the student has benefited from consistent follow through and exposure to new skills. The fourth-grade, team meets and feel that he might not need a behavior plan for the next year, but they will keep it for a few months to make sure. They progress monitor, then start to fade the interventions. The team meets again to identify a few accommodations, but they decide he no longer needs a formal behavior plan. The fourth-grade teacher feels successful. The student feels successful.

As kids grow, their bodies change, their brains change and their interests change. Our plans, strategies and approaches to behavior have to change too. Change can be difficult, but it is a necessary part of life. We can choose to ignore it or go with it and enjoy the ride.

Stephanie

Stephanie Lawless, Assistant Director