I was recently listening to a podcast titled, “A Whole School Approach to Behavior Issues,” where a school principal was talking about his attempts to effectively support students with behavioral challenges and the teachers working with them. As part of this process, he realized that it wasn’t reasonable to expect teachers to constantly deal with behavioral issues and effectively teach the rest of the class at the same time. To better support the teachers and students, he set up a process where he and the other administrative and support staff in the school provided support to the classrooms when needed, but he soon realized that having support staff just pull kids out who were engaging in challenging behavior was also problematic. The teachers needed training in how to deal with issues in the moment in a way that avoided power struggles and didn’t escalate the student further, and the support staff needed to be able to assess the situation when they arrived at the classroom to determine if they should take over with the student or take over the learning in the classroom so the teacher could support the student.

As I conduct Mandt System instructor workshops around the US and Canada, I often hear folks talking about many of these issues. I see many organizations train their direct care staff and then expect them to be able to support individuals engaging in challenging behavior while simultaneously maintaining the learning and skill building of everyone else. I also see organizations who train people to enter the service setting and respond to and support behavioral incidents as they occur. When each of these approaches is done to the exclusion of the other, I often hear frustration from the people involved. The best solutions seem to be when, like the principal in the story, we realize that creating a plan and providing training to everyone involved tends to lead to the best outcomes both for individuals served and the staff involved.

Here is a link to the complete podcast if you’re interested in listening.

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt System Faculty