Essentials: How To Maximise The Success Of Your Behaviour Interventions

Essentials: How To Maximise The Success Of Your Behaviour Interventions

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Have you ever wondered why some behaviour interventions in your school seem to work... wonders while others fall flat?

In this Essentials episode, we'll reveal the essential building blocks that can make or break your school's SEMH support programs. Get these in place, and you'll boost your students chances of success in school!

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Click here to hear all of episode 15.

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Show notes / transcription

Emma Shackleton  0:00  

because there is a sequence to success if you like, let's take emotional regulation as an example. What we want is for the child to deploy calming down strategies at the correct time, that is when they get angry. But here's the rub. If we only teach the calming down strategies, even really good ones that work, they will only work when they are deployed at the correct time. So if the child doesn't recognise that they are getting worked up, chances are it'll be too late and there'll be a meltdown or an explosion before the child has even had chance to deploy that perfect strategy.

Simon Currigan  0:38  

Welcome to the school behaviour secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton and we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and of course students. When classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're going to share the tried and tested secrets to classroom management, behavioural special needs power school strategy, and more. All with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world. So you'll get to hear the latest evidence based strategies before anyone else. This is the school behaviour secrets podcast. Hi there, Simon Currigan here and welcome to this week's essentials episode of school behaviour secrets a snackable episode where I share with you an important strategy or idea from an earlier episode that can impact how you support the children in your school with their social, emotional and mental health needs. And this week, we're going all the way back to Episode 15 where we shared 11 key questions that make or break SMH interventions in school. These are the things to bear in mind before you put in place a programme of support to make sure everything is ready to boost your pupils odds of success. 

Right so let's start with question one is the target behaviour serious and likely to lead to serious consequences for the child. So sometimes when we're presented with a list of behaviours like MS spoke about there things like verbal aggression, maybe swearing, physical aggression, leaving the class, some of those behaviours are much more likely to lead the child to sort of imminent exclusion. Or maybe they're kind of unsafe to other children. If the consequences for those behaviours are serious, then usually it makes sense to focus on those behaviours first. So if you've got a child, he does engage in a list of, you know, kind of like 678 Difficult behaviours, perhaps create a list, get some bullet points on a piece of paper, and actually split them into two categories. The first category being the consequences for this behaviour a serious and then on the second half of the list. Put behaviours that may be serious but won't lead to a serious consequence like exclusion. Whether that's a fixed term exclusion or a permanent exclusion, we've got to ask is the behaviour we're looking at? Is this behaviour just an annoyance? Or are there bigger fish to fry?

Emma Shackleton  3:11  

Okay, so the second question then is related to the first is the target behaviour, unsafe or dangerous? Safety trumps everything. So the key questions to ask here are is the child likely to hurt themselves? Is the child likely to hurt other people, for example, if they are running out of class and attempting to scale the fence and run for the hills? This is obviously a high risk behaviour that has a high likelihood of ending in the child getting hurt, maybe even seriously. So by default, we kind of have to tackle potentially risky behaviours. First, they have to be top priority. Putting in a risk assessment document at this point can be super useful in prioritising which behaviours to tackle, especially if there are more than one dangerous behaviour in play.

Simon Currigan  4:06  

Question three, does the students have all the skills they need to learn a new behaviour? Or do they need to learn something else first? So does the child have the building blocks necessary to perform the desired new behaviour. So let's think of an example here. If you want your child to learn the behaviour of helping their friends when they're upset, instead of maybe laughing or making a derogatory comment that requires you first to be able to recognise emotions in other people. If you can't do that, if you can't recognise that someone else is upset, then you cannot act on that information. Another example might be if you're going to regulate your emotions. Before you can do that. You've got to be able to recognise the intensity of your emotions before you can use calming techniques. Because if you try and do it when your emotions have gone too far, and you're experiencing anger outburst or meltdown, then it's too Late, your brain can't kick him with information that it needs. So does the child have the skills necessary to learn the new behaviour?

Emma Shackleton  5:07  

Question for then does learning the new behaviour unlock all the skills or opportunities? If the child can do this will they be able to access new environments or social situations that will encourage more positive behaviour is this a foundation skill that will help the child develop other skills, like the first domino in a series of dominoes. Sometimes when we take a step back and look objectively at the situation, it becomes clearer which behaviours we need to tackle first, because there is a sequence to success if you like. Let's take emotional regulation as an example, what we want is for the child to deploy calming down strategies at the correct time, that is when they get angry. But here's the rub. If we only teach the calming down strategies, even really good ones that work, they will only work when they are deployed at the correct time. So if the child doesn't recognise that they are getting worked up, chances are it'll be too late and there'll be a meltdown or an explosion, before the child has even had chance to deploy their perfect strategy. So let's rewind. What do they need to know before they use their strategy? They need to know when they are getting angry? Where do they feel that sensation in their body? What is that feeling called? Once they can identify the emotion accurately? Only then will they have a chance of deploying the de escalation strategy at the crucial moment? And only then will they be able to successfully regulate their emotions? So in this instance, first comes self awareness and identification of emotion. And like Simon said, recognising how strong that emotion is, then comes the strategy to address the emotion. There is a sequence to success, it won't work if you put the cart before the horse.

Simon Currigan  7:05  

And related to that is question five? Is the target behaviour a cause or a symptom? So is the behaviour the child is exhibiting? Is it caused by a deficit? Or another issue somewhere else? Are we treating the cause or the problem? And we always want to dig down and focus on the problem behaviours and not the symptom. So let's imagine we've got a child who has issues around saying unkind things to other children, he might set them a target of using kind words, but if we dig a little bit deeper, what if their behaviour is actually driven by a lack of social understanding, it might be better to focus on that or their behaviour might be driven on a lack of emotional regulation. And it might be better to focus on that. If you can dig down into the real causes of the behaviours and separate causes from symptoms. Then the unkind words problem disappears as a result, and you're hitting both problems in one go. There's a story that this reminds me of, I want you to imagine there's a river and there's a lady having a relaxing afternoon by the river, it's a sunny day, and to her horror, she sees an unconscious child floating down the river. So she waves in she pulls the child to the bank, she knows CPR, so she gives the child CPR brings the child round. The child gets groggily to their feet, bangs the lady and walks off. Then 10 minutes later, another child floats down the river. To her horror, this child's also unconscious, so she jumps into the river holds the child to shore CPR, the child gets groggily up, is very thankful and walks off. And then a third child comes down the river. So the lady waits into the river pulls the child to shore CPR. One day, there's another lady walking past and she says, You know, I've been watching you, You're doing fantastic work, dragging those children out of the river and giving them CPR and bringing them back to life. But if you really want to have an impact on this problem, I'd walk upstream a little because there's a man on a bridge throwing the children off, and you might be better off doing something about that problem than pulling them out of the river. And it's the same with behaviours here, you get behaviours that are caused by deficits and other directions in other places. And if we can focus on those cause behaviours, rather than the symptoms behaviour, we're much more likely to have an impact. Otherwise, we just keep dragging kids out the river and giving them CPR. 

And that was the first six of our 11 questions for locking in the success of your school's SMH support programmes. Unfortunately, we're out of time for today. So if you want to know what the next five questions were, make sure you head back to Episode 15 of the school behaviour secrets podcast, I'll put a direct link in the show notes. So you can just open up your podcast app and click straight through. If you've enjoyed listening today. Please remember to rate and review as it takes just 30 seconds. And when you do it prompts the algorithm to recommend school behaviour secrets to other listeners, and that helps us to grow the podcast and reach and support other teachers, school leaders and parents. And while you've got your podcast app open, Do please remember to hit subscribe so you never miss another thing. Thanks for listening and I look forward to seeing you next time on school behaviour secrets.

(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)