Focus Schools are eligible to receive additional training, coaching, and support from members of the district tiered supports team. If your school is interested in becoming a Tiered Supports Focus School, the school administrator can submit the Focus School Agreement and send it to the Tiered Supports Coordinator, Devin Healey (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In order for evidence-based practices to have the desired effect on students, they must be implemented as intended. "Students cannot benefit from interventions they do not receive" (Fixsen, Blase, Horner, Sugai, 2009). For this reason, it is important to use effective implementation practices to ensure instructional and intervention strategies are implemented appropriately and sustained over time. The National Implementation Research Network has identified the key drivers to sustained implementation. One critical practice of implementation is having teams that use data to...
1. What is the problem? - Identify a problem
2. Why is it happening? - Use data to analyze the problem
3. What should be done? - Identify and select appropriate interventions
4. Did it work? - Review and measure the implementation and effects of those interventions
A multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a framework for providing appropriate instruction and intervention for all students in a school system. Schools implementing MTSS utilize a problem-solving process to address problems at various levels including whole-school, grade- or department-level, classroom, or individual student problems. MTSS includes three levels, or tiers, of support that represent increasing intensity and individualization in the instruction and intervention provided. It is a framework that applies to academic areas (e.g., literacy, math) as well as behavior. When applied to behavior, it is typically known as Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) includes four pillars:
Establish expectations (school-wide as well as classroom level expectations)
Explicitly teach expectations to all students and staff
Reinforce students for following expectations
Correct (including reteaching) students for misbehaviors
All schools in Utah are required by law (R277-609) to have a plan in place to implement practices in line with these pillars of PBIS to promote good behavior and provide appropriate supports for students who misbehave.
The school team’s use of data is also an important factor and an essential part of sustaining effective implementation practices. These data represent both fidelity of implementation data and outcome data, which are used to make adaptations to practices in order to “make them more relevant, efficient, and effective, as well as building the capacity of school personnel to implement and adapt the practice effectively” (McIntosh, et al., 2013). Components of effective use of data include: regular and systematic review, use of systems and procedures to change practices based on data, and frequent reports to staff and stakeholders (McIntosh, et al., 2009).
McIntosh, K., Mercer, S. H., Hume, A. E., Frank., J. L., Turri, M. G., & Mathews, S. (2013). Factors Related to Sustained Implementation of Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support. Council for Exceptional Children, 79(3), 293-311.
McIntosh, K., Horner, R. H., & Sugai, G. (2009). Sustainability of systems-level evidence-based practices in schools: Current knowledge and future directions. In W. Sailor, G. Dunlap, G. Sugai, & R. H. Horner (Eds.), Handbook of positive behavior support (pp. 327-352). New York, NY: Springer
Referral to LCMT
If a parent or teacher requests testing or a referral to Local Case Management, be sure to gather data and information from them in order to help support the team with your decision making.
Sample Referral Forms (Obtained from Centennial Jr High)
Restorative Practices are a set of practices that develop relationships and community and repair those relationships when harm is done. Restorative practices are aimed at shifting focus away from just punishing and towards repairing harm done to people. Restorative practices support social and emotional development by promoting inclusiveness, relationship-building, and problem-solving. Restorative methods such as circles and restorative conferences bring victims, offenders, and their supporters together to address wrongdoing and repair harm caused to relationships. Listed below are a few strategies to help build strong relationships and empathy.
FOSTER A SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Students cannot learn unless they feel safe. Build a supportive environment where students feel safe, comfortable, take risks, and learn.
Morning Meetings Circles
One great way to help students learn is to build in SEL within the day. A great way to start each day is by taking a couple minutes and building in a regular meeting where everyone can "check-in" with each other. This helps to build a strong classroom culture of respect and empathy.
Current event or talking guide
To help guide the facilitation of a group circle, it can be helpful to have either an object or a specific topic to discuss (like a current event or question geared towards engaging students into sharing their thoughts, beliefs, or experiences).
Integrating Circles into daily lessons / activities
Building in circle time throughout the day as part of regular lessons can be a great way to help build SEL competencies within students. An easy way to do this would be to have the students spend a couple minutes before and after exams or assignments where they can discuss in pairs or small groups some things that may be challenging before the task and then review what strategies they used after the task is completed.
Implementing proactive strategies will promote a greater culture of caring and empathy and students more often behaving in pro-social ways. However, even with good tier 1 practices, some social challenges and problem behavior will occur. When unexpected problems arise, it's good to have a plan in place ahead of time that the teacher and students are familiar with. One such plan is a restorative circles. These can be as formal or informal as needed. For smaller, minor issues (like in class, playground, or in the hall) a small, quick, and informal "circle" with the 2 parties and an adult can sometimes be adequate.
RESTORATIVE CIRCLES AND BRIEF CONFERENCES
These can be as formal or informal as needed. For smaller, minor issues (e.g., in class, playground, or in the hall) a brief conference with the 2 parties and an adult can sometimes be adequate. Other times the whole class may be involved in a restorative circle to address ongoing behavioral issues in the classroom. Some of the talking points could be as follows:
Questions for the offender(s)
1. What happened?
2. What were you thinking at the time? What have you thought about since?
3. Who has been impacted by your actions?
4. How can you make things right?
Questions for the offendee(s)
1. What did you think at the time?
2. How did this impact you and others?
3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
4. What could the other person do to make things right?
Provide a space with activities to “change the channel” on negative or inaccurate thinking. Activities such as brain breaks, listening to calming music, or mindful breathing help students to calm the brain. Cognitive distractions are incompatible with negative thinking.
LIMIT EXCLUSIONARY PRACTICES
Ignoring inappropriate behavior, sending students to the office, or sending students to sit alone at a back table or in the hallway, can unintentionally trigger students who have experienced abandonment or neglect.
For larger, more severe incidents, it may be more appropriate to handle them at a later time, and with more parties included (staff, parents, etc.) In order for this to be effective, the practitioner should be trained and familiar with restorative practices, and both parties should feel comfortable in that moment.
Trauma has a direct impact on a child's ability to succeed in school. Schools must recognize and understand the impact of trauma in order to create an environment that enables children who have experienced trauma to succeed. Driven by a need to support all students, many educators have adopted a trauma-sensitive lens. This includes learning about the impact and signs of trauma, working to develop trusting relationships with students, and creating safe classroom environments to support students exposed to trauma.
Trauma-sensitive schools create an environment where students are free from physical and social-emotional harm. A trauma-sensitive school is a safe and respectful environment that enables students to build trusting relationships with adults and peers, self-regulate their emotions and behaviors, and succeed academically, while supporting their physical health and emotional and mental well-being. They do this by recognizing the effects of trauma, responding to trauma through school- and classroom-wide practices, and collaborating with families and community partners to get students higher-level support where needed. Schools who would like to incorporate trauma-sensitive practices may find the following resource useful: Helping Students Heal from Trauma. Additional resources for schools and individual educators, including training materials and instructional strategies, can be found below and on the Training Resources tab of this page.
Trauma-Sensitive Key Practices
Recognizing Trauma Students who have experienced trauma may struggle to follow behavioral norms, withdraw, or have difficulty with verbal or organizational skills.
The Educator Resilience and Trauma-Informed Self-Care tool is a self-care assessment and planning tool with key strategies for fostering resilience and a self-care planning tool to assist educators in identifying areas of strength and growth related to self-care and developing self-care plans. Teachers and administrators may wish to complete this to identify areas and ways to improve upon their own self-care.
Devin Healey specializes in implementation of multi-tiered system of supports, positive behavior Intervention and supports, and data-based decision-making (school-wide and individual student). He previously worked as a related services coordinator in Davis School District, and a specialist at the Utah Personnel Development Center and the Utah State Board of Education where he directed the Utah Multi-Tiered System of Supports initiative. He began his career as a school psychologist in in Davis School District working in elementary and secondary settings.
Christi Blankman is a licensed School Counselor and has over 23 years of experience in both the school and clinical settings working as a School Counselor, Recreational Therapist, and K-12 Prevention Coordinator. Her areas of expertise include consultation/collaboration with schools in areas related to school-wide change, prevention curriculum, and grant writing. She is also a member of the District Crisis Team.
Sara Carver Ninow specializes in implementation of multi-tiered system of supports, positive behavior Intervention and supports, and data-based decision-making (school-wide and individual student). She previously worked as a school counselor at the elementary school level. Sara is passionate about helping others implement evidence-based practices.
Kelcey Tupuola specializes in implementation of multi-tiered system of supports, positive behavior Intervention and supports, and data-based decision-making (school-wide and individual student). She previously worked as a school counselor at the secondary school level. Kelcey is passionate about helping others implement evidence-based practices.