While school-based Board Certified Behavior Analysts™ (BCBAs) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts™ (BCaBAs) aren’t “school psychologists” per se, they are solidly grounded in psychology. They earned their degree in behavior analysis, after all!
So in your work as a school-based clinician, you may be called upon to act as a behavior consultant.
Strictly defined, the behavioral consultation model is how school psychologists provide interventions via teachers or other school professionals, but school-based behavioral therapists similarly provide indirect services. They consult and collaborate with teachers to identify and analyze problem behaviors, and implement and evaluate treatments.
Our behavioral health team at Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS) knows how to help teachers and administrators who call on them to serve as behavior consultants. Here’s a brief look at how it can work, as well as resources you can use when the call comes to you!
PBIS and MTSS: Applied Behavioral Analysis in the School Setting
Like many fields, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) uses its own “alphabet soup.” Two important acronyms to know are PBIS and MTSS. They’re not synonymous, but they are related.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is one Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Like every MTSS, PBIS is an evidence-based, three-level framework for improved student outcomes—in PBIS’ case, behavioral outcomes.
The MTSS model can also address occupational concerns and speech-language challenges. But PBIS zeroes in on such issues as non-compliance, defiance, inattention, anxiety. hyperactivity, and outbursts.
How does PBIS achieve improved outcomes in these areas? By providing three types of proactive and preventative interventions to students based on what empirical data reveals they need:
- Tier 1 supports
Designed for and delivered to the whole classroom or even school-wide, Tier 1 interventions “set the stage” for all students’ academic and behavioral success. Most students respond well to these supports and require no further interventions.
- Tier 2 supports
Provided only to groups of students who don’t sufficiently respond to Tier 1 supports, these interventions give extra opportunities to strengthen target behavioral skills.
- Tier 3 supports
Individualized and intensive, behavior consultants reserve Tier 3 interventions for the few students the first two tiers don’t benefit. Tier 3 supports results from formal evaluations and involves detailed Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs), developed by BCBAs or BCaBAs and implemented by Registered Behavior Technicians™ (RBTs).
Specific Examples of Tier 1 Behavior Interventions in Action
When teachers want your help handling behavior issues, you may only need to introduce them to Tier 1 supports they can use to help all students replace problem behaviors with appropriate ones.
For example, in a classroom where a handful of students display a chronic inability to pay attention, you might suggest the teacher do as Catherine Collier did. As she describes in RTI for Diverse Learners (Corwin Press, 2010), Collier didn’t single out the five pupils presenting particular challenges. Instead, she had her whole class role-play paying attention and discuss why attentiveness matters. For her part, Collier modeled attentive behaviors and kept close to various students (including but not limited to those five) to increase their ability to focus (pages 15-16).
Role-play, discussion, modeling, and proximity—these four tried-and-true Tier 1 interventions rapidly helped three of the five students adopt replacement behaviors and fostered a more productive learning environment for everyone.
Here’s another Tier 1 intervention idea you can offer teachers: “break cards.” Each card depicts and describes a coping skill, such as breathing deeply, squeezing a stress ball, or “getting the wiggles out.” When students feel overwhelmed and need a break, they can ask their teacher for a break card. The given activity can help them calm down, refocus, and self-regulate their behavior.
Get Free Practical Tier 1 Behavioral Resources From PTS
As many of our clinicians will attest, serving as a behavior consultant can be a very rewarding part of your job. When you introduce Tier 1 interventions, you are:
- Equipping teachers to deal directly and confidently with behavioral issues.
- Helping more students than you could one-on-one or in small groups.
- Saving time and energy you need to deliver more intensive interventions to students who truly require them.
Click here to download a ready-to-go sample set of break cards. Then request a free packet of even more great Tier 1 intervention ideas from PTS!