Educators are constantly looking for ways to address unwanted and/or unexpected behaviors students demonstrate during the school day.   

These behaviors could be due to skill deficits in the following:

Academic Behaviors - skills needed to “do” academics Examples include • following directions • completing long-term projects • staying on task How Teach Executive Functioning skills and/or study skills Pro Social Skills - needed to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities Examples include • coping • making and keeping friends • conflict resolution How Provide Explicit instruction in large and/or small groups Emphasize when embedded within content areas Problem-solving skills - seeking/finding solutions despite obstacles Examples include • decision making • collaborating • resilience How Classroom and school-wide procedures and routines help students establish and develop problem-solving abilities

None of these are intuitive to all.

Not all of these develop with age.

There is overlap.

If we teach to remediate academic deficits, we can teach to remediate these deficits.  If we teach students how to acquire and build fluency with academic behaviors,  social skills, and problem-solving,  we will see behaviors we want to see!

How Do We Do This?

Prepackaged, commercially available academic behaviors,  social skills, and problem-solving curriculums 

  • Pros:  cohesiveness across grades, no burden of curriculum design on staff
  • Cons:  cost, uncertainty that it will address the specific, contextual skill deficits of your students

Obtaining academic behaviors, social skills, and problem-solving lesson plans/activities from various sources

  • Pros: allows for more purposeful matching to an identified need
  • Cons: time-consuming, possible lack of cohesiveness if all are tasked with finding their own

Designing your own academic behaviors, social skills, and problem-solving lesson plans

  • Pros: can match directly to identified needs and the context of the school
  • Cons: time-consuming, possible lack of cohesiveness if created by different people 

 Schools must choose their approach wisely:  

  1. Regardless, look for research-based and empirically validated commercially available curriculum/materials/resources.
  2. If writing your own, make them standards-driven.  The CASEL Core Competency Areas or the Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills Continuum encompass best practices in social-emotional competencies and could serve as your foundation or framework.

What Ways Can This Be Done?

ALL students should be provided a universal foundation in academic behavior skills, prosocial skills and problem-solving. However, when data indicates students are not being responsive to what is being provided to all students, schools need to consider more specialized approaches. Most schools place students in small groups with school counselors, behavior specialists, social workers, or others considered to be more “clinical”. However, anyone and everyone can teach these needed skills!

Is It Making a Difference?

Participation in a weekly Social Emotional Learning (SEL) class or in a smaller biweekly group on, for example, coping skills, is NOT the intervention! There needs to be a defined outcome goal of participation to determine if behaviors are changing as a result of the intervention. Schools must measure to determine if the approach should continue, be modified, or changed. Is the learned skill(s) being demonstrated in all settings, not just during the lesson or session? How do we know? If less than 70% are responding to the intervention (as, in this case, measured by behavior incidents), then the chosen approach is NOT working. Further investigation needs to determine why: is it due to fidelity (ex: the scripted curriculum was not delivered as developed) or the student is not being responsive to what was put in place? Fidelity before outcome: you cannot determine effectiveness (or lack of) without looking at the adults first and then the student data.

To learn more about behavior and school support groups, attend the virtual breakout session on Tuesday, June 18 from 1:15-2:15 during the third annual MTSS Event: ALL IN! Creating Responsive Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

All who register will have access to keynotes and all sessions until December 31, 2024!

2024 MTSS Conference All In: Creating Responsive Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Keynote Speakers Tai A. Collins, PhD BCBA-D. Jason Harlachner, PhD June 17-18 2024 Virtual