School will be in session very soon. But, don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you have to gather all your materials and write your lesson plans this instant. However, now might be a good time to start getting into the mindset and doing a little preparation for what needs to be done when school starts, especially if you teach students who have some behavioral challenges and will be entering general education classes. Integrating students with behavioral challenges in the general education classroom can be a overwhelming job for a behavior support teacher. There are a vast number of day to day activities that you will perform in order to help your students successfully transition into the general education setting. Here is a list of suggested activities you can engage in to support your student during the inclusion, or mainstreaming, process.
1. Spend time in the general education classroom: Monitor and work with the student in order to develop an accurate awareness of the dynamics of the class, what is working, and where modification of supports need be take place.
2. Share relevant information about the child you are mainstreaming with the general education teacher as soon as possible. Set up visits to the child’s setting and a meeting with the parents to augment this information and to provide a picture of reasonable expectations for the student and yourself on an ongoing basis.
3. Maintain ongoing communication with key stakeholders and other support personnel. Make your needs known and ask for those supports that will increase your effectiveness in the classroom for all students, those with and without special needs. This might include social worker, psychologist, counselor, or therapists. As a teacher in a behavior support classroom, you may also be the contact teacher for students. As such, you will want to make sure everyone is on the same page and that services are provided in accordance with the student’s IEP.
4. Maximize use of all staff. If a teacher assistant is provided for all or a portion of the day, whenever possible, utilize this individual as a helper to not only the child with special needs, but to all students and yourself. A well-trained paraprofessional can also collect valuable behavior and academic data as well.
5. Seek collaboration time during the school day. This will help you better prepare the teacher and student by being to anticipate potential roadblocks and Make efficient use of your time and actively collaborate with general education teachers. Establish clear guidelines that outline the job description of the behavior support teacher and the proportion of time needed for collaboration.
6. Gather and collect behavior and academic data and conduct periodic reviews of progress. Decisions such as when to increase or decrease time should never be based on what we think is happening, it is must be based on results. Performance must always drive your decision-making.
7. Assist with instruction. Assist general education teachers with instruction or follow-up of organizational and study skills. The additional support is almost always appreciated.
8. Assist with the development of skills. Assist teachers in helping students develop social emotional skills (i.e. self-esteem, affective skills).
9. Recognize and seek opportunities to teach the social emotional goals for the child with behavioral challenges while in the mainstream setting and celebrate successes, both large and small.