In this chapter, you will learn recommendations for empowering families to take an active role in assisting educators with attempting to understand a student's problem behavior.
Positive Behavior Support (PBS) literature emphasizes the importance of getting to know a student and their needs to ensure their overall enhanced quality of life. The literature that addresses behavior problems demonstrates that there is a reason or purpose behind every behavior problem. That is, behavior does not "just happen." The behavior is triggered by specific actions, environments, people, etc. and it is also reinforced or maintained in the same manner. Thus, behavior often becomes a pattern and an actual tool for the student to either get or avoid something (for more information please see I Wonder What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment?)
It is very important for educators to include parents in the behavioral assessment stage. Educators should ask parents questions about the behavior problem and work as a team to uncover or begin to understand the function of the behavior problem. One of the greatest mistakes a professional can make is to exclude the parent in assessing the behavioral problems of a student. Therefore, it is necessary that parents are included and treated as pivotal sources of information.
1. Interview the parent about the behavior
2. Ask the parents to take some data in their home for the assessment
3. Observe the student in the home or out in the community with their family
4. Invite the parent to observe their child in the classroom
5. Hold team meetings with the parents taking an active role in analyzing their child's behavior.
Please click on the link to retrieve a Sample Parent Interview Protocol
I truly believe that teachers must keep the door of communication open with their students' parents. Communication is the key to not only understanding your students, but it can also allow you to really hear what your students' parents are saying. Yes, you have the student’s personal file, IEP, reports, etc, but that is only part of who your student is and it can be misleading to a point because of how something, possibly an incident report is presented.
We as parents can create unwanted behaviors, but not because of what you may believe, because we are trying to survive. I had no idea that when my child was crying in the middle of the night it could be because she was trying to gain my attention. I believed she cried because her IV that fed her 24 hours a day was hurting, or because she had to be rushed to the ER because of her metabolic illness (disorder) was about to surface (as it did often without notice). I also did not realize that letting her sleep with us (so that we could hear her breath) would later create a behavior that we now wished did not exist as she got older.
The point I am trying to make is that parents do things that typical parents would not do because we are truly trying to survive! Not realizing that some of the things we are doing can result in unwanted behaviors (learned behaviors) later. So please try to keep an open mind and listen to your parents. Listen to their story (our life). When we feel listened to we are more open to listening ourselves.
The system shut me down. Don’t let this happen to you or your parents. Don’t blame! Help parents to understand what is happening. You do this by listening, not making judgments, become a team and together you can learn to support the student not only at school, at home, but through his or her life.
Sara is a very quiet 10 year old girl in your classroom. She is verbal, however, it is very difficult to get her to socialize with other students. Sara was new to your classroom a month ago and you really do not know much about her.
Your task: Create an interview protocol for Sara's parents. Develop questions that may assist you with understanding Sara's behaviors so that you can best support her in the classroom. What types of questions will you ask her parents that will provide you with such information?
Carr, E.G., Dunlap, G., Horner, R.H., Koegel, R.L., Turnbull, A.P., Sailor, W., Anderson, J., Albin, R.W., Koegel, L.K., & Fox, L. (2002). Positive behavior support. Evolution of an applied science. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 4, 4-16.
Conroy, M.A., Davis, C.A., Fox, J.J., & Brown, W.H. (2002). Functional assessment of behavior and effective supports for young children with challenging behaviors. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 27 (4), 35-47.
Freeman, R., Eber, L., Anderson, C., Irvin, L., Bounds, M., Dunlap, G., & Horner, R. (2006). Building inclusive school cultures using school-wide positive behavior support: Designing effective individual support systems for students with significant disabilities. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31, 4-17.