Matt Minturn - Boys Town National Training
AAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!! That’s the sound of me wanting to pull my hair out! Okay, so now that I have taken a moment to use my self-control strategy to calm down, I can tell you about a student whose behavior choices created both frustrations and eventual joy for both of us.
You see, Sammy was an upper elementary student that had been in our program at Boys Town for a couple of years and was savvy enough to know how to work the system to get what he needed or wanted. It came about that Sammy began earning office referrals at the end of the school day on a regular basis. Now, I don’t know about you, but when the bell rings at 2:55 pm for dismissal, and a highly skilled student walks in your office at around 2:30 pm on multiple occasions because they earned a referral for misbehavior in the classroom, you get a little frustrated. Each time I saw Sammy my first inclination was to lecture him on how he knew better and if he only could have held it together for a short while longer he could have left school to enjoy his evening. Instead now he was spending one-on-one time with me in the office after school to address his misbehavior in class!
Heeeeyyy! Wait a minute! Maybe there is something to that! After working with Sammy a few times for this same issue and realizing that there was a definite pattern emerging and it was evident we needed to enact an intervention to address this behavior. The solution in this situation was to use positive office referrals. How did we come to that conclusion? Well, let me give you a few thoughts that went through our minds leading us to this decision.
As part of this Functional Behavior Assessment, I also interviewed/asked questions of Sammy and his teachers to help determine what might be contributing to this new behavior. In Sammy’s situation we learned that the antecedents to his referral behaviors were both internal and external. Sammy’s referral log revealed that his referral behaviors were happening during Day Conference, a time when teachers are meeting individually to total up points on students’ point cards and to review their daily behaviors. Sammy revealed that he found this time to be really boring because he would often finish all of his school work for the day on time or early and therefore would have little to do during End of Day Conference. We also discovered that his referrals came on days where he had earned multiple negative consequences through the day, and he didn’t want to talk to his teachers about his behaviors. Lastly, we determined that one other function was that he wanted attention especially at this time of day, and he knew he could get that attention from none other than the interventionist in the office. In his eyes the best deal to escape talking to his teacher and to get attention was to earn a referral.
Completing the Functional Behavior Assessment with the Sammy allowed us to talk through what was leading to his misbehavior and ultimate referrals to some see me. Now that we have this information the next step is to help Sammy find prosocial replacement behaviors to help him cope with his boredom and desire to avoid the End of Day Conference. Check back soon for part 2 of Sammy’s story to learn how we implemented a positive behavior contract and positive office referral to improve Sammy’s behavior.
For more tips and strategies on turning misbehavior into an opportunity for learning watch our on-demand webinar, Administrative Intervention: An Opportunity for Learning. You’ll get a sample Functional Behavior Assessment template with your registrations.