Behavior support at the Scotland County School System is an Exceptional Children (EC) program that is in place to help all students, especially those with behavior problems that impede their academics. Behavior support also helps teachers handle the problems with their students more efficiently by giving them support and helping them develop behavior contracts, problem solving skills, social skills, conflict resolution skills, and many other proactive ways to teach the students to better handle their own behavior and improve their learning environment.

Working together with parents, staff, and administration is one of the most important steps to ensure a positive learning environment, and I have had a great year working with all three. In working with parents and the community, students are taught social skills at home or within the community, but will still test limits and boundaries in all settings. Building Bridges is about three programs that have helped make a difference in everyone’s life.

When PBS was first introduced to Scotland County, it wasn’t an easy sell to most people, so the county selected three schools based on their behavior and academic performance. The first step of the process involves having 80% of the teachers “buy in” to the program. The school that I have mentioned is one I visited to check on the students in the behavior support program. Two of the three were expelled and the other one went to the behavior classroom on another campus. During the 2006/2007–2007/2008 school year, office referrals dropped.

Figure 1

Unfortunately, over the 2008/2009 school year, much of the data that we collected was not put into the system because the school operated without an Assistant Principal, who would normally handle the data. We also often worked without a Learning Lab, a place students could go if they had problems in the classroom. The times the Learning Lab was available varied greatly, but additional instruction was provided to those who would normally go to the Learning Lab.

Out-of-School Suspensions and Expulsions

The average number of short-term (10 days or less) and long-term (more than 10 days) out-of-school suspensions and expulsions per 100 students.
Figure 3

Figure 2

GOOD News at Our School:

81% reduction in profanity cases.

82% reduction in bus suspensions.

86% reduction in students given warnings.

88% reduction in bus misconduct cases.

89% reduction in cases of threats/abusive actions.

91% reduction in cases of loud and aggressive language.

93% reduction in cases of fighting.

98% reduction in cases of failure to follow both classroom rules and cases of school-wide rules.

100% reduction in cases include:
  • Aiding/abetting a fight.
  • Assault.
  • Assault involving serious personal injury.
  • Assault on school official staff.
  • Rule violation/multiple referrals.
  • Theft/other.
  • Property damage.
  • Weapon possession.
These are the facts and other data will soon follow. Bridges are being built one person and day at a time.

The demographics are as shown. Most of these children come from low-income families in the city.

Student Performance Data by Student Groups:
In any group where the percentage of students is greater than 95% or less than 5%, the actual values may not be displayed because of federal privacy regulations. In these cases, the results is shown as >95% or <5% for the group.

Performance of Each Student Group on the ABCs End-of-Grade Tests

The percentage of students, grouped by gender, ethnicity, and other factors, who passed BOTH the reading and math tests.*

Figure 4

* If the number of students in a category is 5 or fewer, results are not shown and are represented by a N/A.

E.D. = Economically Disadvantaged Students

N.E.D. = Not Economically Disadvantaged Students

L.E.P. = Limited English Proficient Students

Throughout the 2008/2009 school year, I had the pleasure of working at one school and with an awesome team of teachers, administrators, and students. The training for Building Bridges started at the beginning of the school year. As a Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Certified Instructor, seeing the benefits of the training before becoming an Instructor has helped in many ways. Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training is the foundation for the bridge by using the knowledge gained through the CPI Crisis Development ModelSM, paraverbal communication, verbal interventions, the CPI Verbal Escalation ContinuumSM, and by learning to understand Precipitating Factors, Rational Detachment, and the Integrated Experience.

Integrated Experiences are in place when dealing with fear and anxiety in students and adults alike, using a team approach to deal with a crisis, using the CPI COPING ModelSM for both staff and students, and setting limits that are reasonable and enforceable. I feel the most important part of communicating with all individuals is the importance of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM of all individuals around us in the classrooms and staff on the campus.

The next part of Building Bridges is Positive Behavior Support (PBS). PBS is a school-wide approach that helps students who have behavioral problems and discipline issues in the school setting.

Usually, a matrix is used that helps all students learn rules, how to cope in a school setting, and how to interact with other students in the classrooms, hallways, playgrounds, buses, lunchrooms, etc. An awards system that seems appropriate for the individuals involved in the program promotes the positive behaviors desired by the school administration and staff and follows the matrix that has been set at the start of the year.

This system helps individuals by giving them a sense of self-worth for following the rules. When dealing with a student with behavioral problems, the Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is effective, although we must remember not all children or students fall under an EC program. An FBA can be used to deal with most or all behavioral problems.

There has always been a process when dealing with EC versus regular education setting. PBS addresses this through school-wide expectations (labels and definitions), building a matrix or continuum of consequences that are clear and easy to administer. By instructing students early in the year about appropriate behavior and consequences if a problem occurs (and when teachers are consistent with consequences and never ignore escalating behavior problems), students and teachers are given a more concrete foundation to follow for the remaining school year.

The key thing to remember is that rewarding positive behavior for students achieving academic and positive social skills is more important than reinforcing negative behavior. Reinforcing negative behavior actually can lead to more negative outbursts. By pointing out the more positive aspects of what the student is doing clears the way for achieving more positive behaviors.

Positive reinforcement gives children and adults a feeling that they are worthy of appreciation rather than viewed as those who just cause problems. Through integrated experiences of my own, positive reinforcement with students over the years has proven to have a successful outcome in improving the behaviors of students. This leads to a better academic environment for the students and their peers. Positive behavior support is needed and has proven to work very well in schoolwide setting.

Second Step is another part of the bridge. Second Step is a violence prevention program/curriculum. The program, taught in the classroom to all students, allows them to share their feelings and concerns while learning about empathy, impulse control, and anger management. This program can be implemented successfully at any grade level.

I believe that by allowing students to achieve these skills at an early age, they will become better equipped to control their behavior and outbursts as they continue their academic career. Being able to teach a whole class these skills was very helpful to both students and teachers.

This program also has the parents involved with the violence prevention program. At the beginning of the year, we send a letter home for the parents to review the curriculum. The program homework—including homework for the parents—is assigned and has to come back to school so all are involved with teaching these skills.

One example of a session is the students look at a card with a picture of a person or persons having a problem or being happy. Students and teachers are then able to talk about their feelings or about the problem that the person in the picture may be having in order to find a suitable solution and different ways to handle problems in life when they occur.

While teaching Second Step, I have found it to be more effective to teach a whole class rather than a single individual. The reason is that with everyone on the same page, they understand more about each other’s feelings in the classroom and are able to hear another person’s point of view on how to solve the problem.

These three components of our Building Bridges program (Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training, PBS, and Second Step) have helped a great deal this past year in dealing with bullies, out-of-school suspensions, and other behavior problems that we all tend to see in schools and in the community.

As a behavioral support professional, I help individuals gain social skills training through life crisis intervention, 101 social skills, work it out, conflict resolution, problem-solving skills, how to feel some self-worth, and how to express oneself. Many children really do not have the chance or opportunity to vent/communicate, or maybe they do not know how to vent/ communicate in a manner that adults consider acceptable. The Building Bridges program gives these children the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to express themselves and improve their outcomes.

Get helpful hints about behavior management.