Summer is “unofficially” over, and school is in full swing for many of kids. As teachers are busy getting ready for back to school night Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s) are getting ready to start their school based consultations. The nice thing about a new school year is that it gives us an opportunity to make a fresh start, reflect on our previous practices and perhaps take this opportunity to implement new strategies.
Some BCBA’s might be starting at a new school consultation and can find themselves in a challenging situation before they even enter the classroom. Misconceptions of behavioral consultation at schools can have an immediate effect on your role in the classroom or classrooms you will be providing consultation to. Sometimes BCBA’s are faced with staff that have had a history of consultations that were adverse and unfavorable. Some quick tips to guide you when starting your consultation for the new school year:
1. Start by building a relationship with the teacher. Relationship building is crucial to the success of your future consultations. Understanding the teacher’s challenges and letting the teacher know that together you will work on making the classroom a success for all the learners not just the learner you are there to support.
2. Set up a meeting time on your first day. Begin to gather information during the initial meeting with the teacher (e.g., what is the class wide behavior system, individual reward systems) how does he/she intervene with problem behaviors. Make sure you let the teacher know that you will need some time for a meeting after each consultation and observation to share information and collaborate.
3. Review your consultation approach and use Behavior Skills Training (Stewart, Carr and LeBlanc 2007). Do not lecture, and make sure to use terms that everyone can understand not just other BCBA’s.
4. Team building with all building personnel. Gain support from the administrators and child study team members. I usually like to end my consultation with a quick wrap up meeting and update the case manager and/or school administrator. Where did you leave off? Anything to be done by staff for the next visit?
Remember there will always be some difficult moments during your consultations. However, taking the time in the beginning to set the goals, build the relationships, and forming the team well help during those difficult moments and will lead to a successful school year for everyone especially the students.
Stewart, K. K., Carr, J. E. & LeBlanc, L. A. Evaluation of Family – Implemented Behavioral Skills Training for Teaching Social Skills to a Child with Asperger’s Disorder. (2007). Sage Publications, 6, 252-262.