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Developing Program-Wide Systems of PBS at the Preschool Level

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  1. Developing Program-Wide Systems of PBS at the Preschool Level Becky Beckner, PhD Columbia Public Schools University of Missouri rbeckner@columbia.k12.mo.us

  2. EC and Elementary PBS Similarities • Proactive, preventative approach • Teach and practice expected behaviors • Feedback for appropriate and inappropriate behavior • Team-based management • Training and support for all staff members and students **Due to the structure of early childhood programs and the ages taught, there are a few concepts that must be adapted.

  3. Program-wide PBS • Early Childhood PBS is generally approached as a program-wide system rather than school-wide, although this will vary depending on the program make-up in a particular community. • Within a public school system, early childhood classrooms are often spread out across several elementary buildings. • These may be in buildings that have school-wide PBS of their own, indicating that the early childhood program must be mindful of creating a developmentally appropriate PBS system while fitting into the different elementary buildings’ programming.

  4. Program-wide PBS • Some public school early childhood programs are developed for typically developing children (i.e., Title One preschools), while others blend with Head Start and/or Early Childhood Special Education classrooms. • Some early childhood programming occurs in community-based childcare centers. • The PBS team must consider these scenarios when planning for implementation. • The EC-PBS team is typically quite large.

  5. Columbia Public Schools • Columbia, Missouri • 18 Title I preschool classrooms in 12 elementary buildings with 500+ students and itinerant ECSE support • 8 ECSE classrooms at a Center with 130 students • 7th year of PBS implementation • “Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Responsible”

  6. Other EC Programs in Missouri • Central Missouri Community Action • 8 counties of Head Start classrooms • 6th year of implementation • Columbia Montessori School • Academy Early Learning Center • Sedalia Early Childhood Center • Rockwood Early Childhood Program • Francis Howell Early Childhood Program • United Services

  7. Developmentally Appropriate Programming • It is important for the PBS team to focus on the developmental appropriateness of planning instead of merely copying the programming of an elementary building. • One example of this would be deciding on school behavior expectations and completing the rules matrix. For an early childhood program, it may be important to focus on 2 or 3 expectations instead of the 4 to 6 chosen in an elementary building. • Again, some classrooms are in buildings with existing PBS programming. The team should be aware of existing situations when deciding on program expectations, and plan accordingly.

  8. Formalization of Learning Through EC-PBS • Another thought to consider is the typical purpose of children who are 3 to 5 years of age. For most of them, this is their first experience with organized schooling. All school-appropriate behaviors to be learned are new to them and require numerous opportunities for practice. • These include not only the rules and routines of school, as laid out in the expectation matrix, but also how to make friends, how to express emotions, and general school structure. • Early childhood teachers already spend much of their time teaching such skills; yet often fail to articulate the importance of these lessons to the children, parents, and other staff by labeling such lessons as part of the daily routine.

  9. Instruction of Social Skills • The learning of preschool-aged students occurs through play and trial and error actions. • Social skills instruction in early childhood settings often utilizes puppets, storybooks, finger plays, social stories, songs, group games, and art activities for well-rounded instruction and practice of such skills.

  10. Circle Time Rap Now it’s time for the Circle Time Rap My eyes are on the teacher My hands are in my lap My legs are sitting criss cross My voice is very quiet I’m sitting on my bottom Now everybody try it

  11. Philosophical Differences • Philosophical differences refer to variations in peoples’ beliefs and values. Differing philosophies can affect buy-in, overall support, the extent and integrity to which staff use PBS techniques, and overall school climate. • Therefore, it is important that philosophical differences that may exist among faculty and staff be addressed. • Many early childhood programs utilize curricula based on constructivist theory(e.g., High/Scope, Project Construct). The early childhood PBS team will need to work closely with the staff to ensure that the curriculum and PBS programming blend well. • There are two particular concepts that may need to be discussed and addressed by the team.

  12. Formal Curricula • Early childhood educators often create lesson plans based on the current interests of children in the classroom. • Purposeful Instruction: It will be important for the staff to discuss the need for all children to be directly taught appropriate school behavior.

  13. Praise and Tangible Rewards • After discussing this issue, many EC programs have resolved to use a minimum of verbal feedback in the form of acknowledgement of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. • Typical examples heard in early childhood programs are: “Tim, you are using your walking feet. You are being safe,” and “Tim, our rule is to use our walking feet to be safe. Can you show me or should we practice?” • Several early childhood programs have utilized a continuum of strategies to recognize appropriate behavior, ranging from verbal acknowledgement for group behavior to awards for individual behavior. • The PBS team will need to work closely with the staff to come to an agreement on what strategies are appropriate for children in their program.

  14. Group Contingency for Appropriate Behavior (Beehive)

  15. WE FILLED OUR BEE HIVE TODAY! Do You Like to Buzz? (sung to the tune of ‘Do Your Ears Hang Low?’) Do you like to buzz? Are you covered in fuzz? Do you call a hive a home In the garden where you roam? Do you know how to make honey? Are your stripes a little funny? Do you like to buzz? WE ARE: BEING SAFE, KIND AND RESPONSIBLE

  16. Strategies for Addressing Philosophical Differences: Share Data • Schools have reported “data is our best weapon”. Data should be shared and explained to staff in meaningful ways. • Personalize communication when speaking with personnel regarding data. Make certain teachers understand the needs and outcomes that are revealed by the data. Share data from different levels (e.g., classroom, school-wide, district). • Share data on a regular basis. Allow teachers to see the transformation. Teachers need to see that PBS works.

  17. Share Data • Provide stories from staff members who have “switched” to the PBS philosophy. • The stories should explain why they used to disagree with PBS, and what happened to make them think differently. • These stories can be posted in staff areas to be read during down times, shared at faculty meetings, through email, in staff newsletters, or on a school PBS folder on shared files. • Provide public recognition and praise for teachers who are using PBS effectively.

  18. Adult Incentive Form

  19. Communicate Effectively • When addressing philosophical differences regarding PBS among staff, effective communication is key. When speaking with staff, do so in a meaningful way, which may include addressing staff individually. • Frequent communication opens dialogue for problem solving among staff members. • Make certain that staff members feel comfortable seeking clarity and asking questions. Regardless of individual differences, staff should feel supported as a whole.

  20. Open Communication • Philosophical differences cannot be adequately addressed if staff members feel as though they have no voice in the PBS process. Involve staff members who object to PBS. Having a “naysayer” or two on the PBS team will provide a platform for others who may have differing opinions. • Have a person/s on the team whose role is “communication specialist”- a person who provides updates to the staff, this is the person for staff to contact when they have questions.

  21. Listen to the Staff! • Address faculty concerns. • Questions may be answered anonymously during faculty meetings (chances are there are other staff members who have the same question, but have not asked it). • Create an anonymous suggestion and question box, so that staff members can share their concerns freely. • Be empathetic and try to listen for the concerns that are their underlying objections. For example, a staff member who complains, “We are already doing this”, may feel this way because she does not have enough information about PBS. • Instead of insisting PBS is a new strategy for your school, gradually provide information. Explain how PBS “fits in” with ongoing initiatives.

  22. Empower Teachers • Provide teachers with the opportunity to observe classrooms and speak with teachers who successfully implement PBS strategies. • Utilize teachers and staff to provide details and examples from their classroom and school proving that PBS can be successful. • Have other schools share their outcomes. Provide research articles supporting PBS. • Emphasize the benefits of PBS. For example: PBS strategies can save time and effort; data collection provides accountability to families and districts; and PBS improves school climate.

  23. Go the Extra Mile! • Be sure to check back with staff members to see if their concerns are being addressed. • When a change is made to some component of PBS because of staff concerns, let the faculty know what the concern is and how they have made changes to address the concern.

  24. CPS Year 7 Survey Results • How many children have you taken to BUZ team this year? 0=23 people; 1=14 people; 2=10 people ; 3=1 person • For what area/s of concern? • Communication-10 • Behavior-16 • Academics-7 • Sensory-2 • Was the process easy? Yes: 22 No: 3 • Was the process helpful? Yes: 22 No: 3 • Did you get your needs met? Yes: 19 No: 5

  25. Data Collection Regarding Individual Students • Most early childhood programs have not previously used systems to collect behavioral data. • As analysis of appropriate data is key to developing a workable action plan, the PBS team will need to discuss how to gather basic information about behavior incidents as they occur. • Many decisions must be made regarding the use of a Behavior Incident Report.

  26. Data Collection for Parents • Parents are very involved in the education of preschool-aged children. Early childhood teachers typically share information about specific behavior incidents with parents in person or by writing a note. It is important for the teacher to still have this ability regardless of what type of form is developed. • Teachers do not generally want to send home a BIR for minor, classroom-managed issues. Therefore, a decision-rule must be made regarding when a BIR should be sent home. • Likewise, a decision must be made regarding which offenses are recorded and turned in to a central location for analysis. Many teachers use the BIR as a data collection tool with a summary of minor chronic behaviors turned in to the central office and to parents.

  27. Behavior Incident Report • Data rules At CPS • Sent home and to data manager if a Level 3 consequence is given • After 3 incident reports, support is offered • Reality: BIRs are not consistently used unless requesting support or as part of the evaluation process.

  28. Screening Process • Behavior Checklist (November and March) • Subjective measure compiled from clinical and developmental scales • Sample data: November-450 filled out 43 red-flagged March-520 filled out 13 more red-flagged • Standardized Screening Instruments

  29. Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) • Assess a child’s level of internal protective factors, or resiliency (self-control, initiative, attachment) • Create a classroom profile to pair with lessons for school, share information with parents for strategies at home • Goal: Strengthen protective factors and minimize impact of risk factors • Infant/Toddler, Preschool, School-age, and Clinical versions • Short screen for Problem Behavior

  30. Early Screening Project(Walker, Severson, & Feil, 1995) • Proactive multiple-gated screening: • Stage One: Teacher ranking of externalizing & internalizing behaviors • Stage Two: Teacher ratings of the 5 highest ranked children • Stage Three: Direct observations & parent questionnaires of children exceeding Stage Two criteria Teacher Ranking Teacher Ratings Observations

  31. Early Screening Project • Stage Two: Normative comparisons on several checklists/scales that are appropriate to externalizing and internalizing concerns • Scores of At-Risk, High-Risk, or Extreme Risk for each scale with separate tables by gender • Convert to T scores and percentile ranks • Stage Three: Optional measures that guide decision-making regarding support • Parent Questionnaire with items that correspond to teacher scales • Social Behavior Observations during peer play that identify antisocial/nonsocial behavior or prosocial behavior (two 10-minute sessions) • The ESP can be used as a clinical tool to determine eligibility for special services as well as programming/monitoring progress

  32. PRE-SET (Horner, Benedict, & Todd, 2005) • Adaptation of the School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET) used in K-12 educational settings to measure critical features of school-wide PBS. • The Pre-SET assesses classroom and program-wide variables across 9 categories: A. Expectations Defined B. Behavioral Expectations Taught C. Appropriate Behavior Acknowledged D. Organized and Predictable Environment E. Additional Supports F. Family Involvement G. Monitoring & Decision-Making H. Management I. Program & District-Wide Support

  33. Staff Support in Crisis Situations • Most EC teachers do not send children to the principal’s office or to a buddy room when escalating and/or violent behavior occurs. • Child care licensing regulations are particular about use of physical restraint and continued enrollment of students who may be dangerous • A Crisis Plan is completed by each classroom team in order to be prepared for such events. • Students are taught classroom evacuation.

  34. Early Childhood Secondary and Tertiary Supports • On-Going Monthly PBS Support Group: Training of staff on concepts such as managing escalating behavior, determining environmental triggers for behavior, and understanding the function of behaviors • Intensive Social Skills Instruction: Beyond the lessons provided to teachers, For at-risk behaviors such as dealing with frustration tolerance, Materials are provided or a specialist provides the requested lesson for small groups

  35. Other Secondary and Tertiary Supports • Mentoring for children in need of extra attention (due to crisis, family issues, or attention-seeking behaviors): • Administrators and traveling specialists • 15 to 30 minutes per week, plus field trips and class parties • Unconditional involvement • Special Education evaluation in the area of social/emotional/behavioral functioning • Special Education services • Behavior consultation • Direct social skills instruction • Individual counseling • Parent PBS training

  36. Teacher Assistance Teams • CPS Buddy-Up Zone (BUZ Team): • Available every Friday-different times of the day-Four teams of peers • Any area of concern (85% of meetings during 2007-2008 were for behavior) • Request for Support and gathering of available data • Parent permission required, attendance encouraged • Teacher Support and Referral Team (TSAR): • Two per month-classroom team, Mental Health Consultant, ECSE staff

  37. General Education Interventions • Compile what is known, what is in place • Identify antecedent/environmental strategies • Identify curricular modifications • Address any behavior management needs • Recommend interventions, supports, materials, observations, data collection methods/tools, and/or referrals for evaluation • Schedule a follow-up meeting

  38. RTI and BUZ: 2008-2009 • Early Childhood DIBELS administration for all pre-kindergarten students in Title I • Cluster teams: School Psychologist, ECSE Teacher, Speech/Language Pathologist, Title I teachers • Meet every 2 weeks • Ongoing screening for those who need it • Implementation of strategies • BUZ available per cluster at each meeting • Behavior Consultant, Occupational Therapist

  39. Transition to Kindergarten • Transition to kindergarten is a big step for all students and their parents. • In particular, those with behavioral difficulties tend to struggle. • At CPS, Transition Plans are written for all children who have gone through BUZ/TSAR teams. • Parental permission is obtained prior to the initial team meeting. • Support forms and transition plans are sent to the principal of the receiving elementary school for dissemination

  40. Where to get more information: Positive Behavior Support Systems: Applying Key Features in Preschool Settings Authors: Melissa Stormont, Timothy J. Lewis, and Rebecca Beckner TEACHING Exceptional Children   VOL. 37 NO.6   July/August 2005 http://journals.sped.org/ec/archive_articles/VOL.37NO.6JulyAugust2005_TEC_Stormont37-6.pdf

  41. Program-Wide Positive Behavior Support: Supporting Young Children’s Social-Emotional Development and Addressing Challenging Behavior The Southeast Kansas Community Action Program (SEK-CAP)(www.Challengingbehavior.org)