Using positive behavioral interventions and support for virtual learners

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 5:43 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Many adults have had to make adjustments to work from home. And a number of kids have had to do the same, either because they’ve chosen virtual learning, are in a hybrid model or aren’t in school temporarily due to quarantine. In KCRG’s Novel Classroom report, KCRG-TV9′s Beth Malicki talks to a positive behavior trainer with Grant Wood Area Education Agency about how parents can make the transition easier.

Jillian O’Rourke is a familiar face to many educators because she is a PBIS trainer. PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. O’Rourke says PBIS is really thinking about the positive interventions educators can put into place to prevent problem behavior.

And parents can incorporate PBIS strategies at home. O’Rourke says that starts with ensuring the adults know what the child is supposed to be learning, but we’re not talking about academic content. This is about behavior. Kids aren’t born knowing to wait their turn or put their dishes away. It takes practice and the lesson is most successful when parents catch kids doing it right, rather than harping on them when they inevitably mess up.

Once the adults in the child’s home have determined which behaviors they want to see, they create an environment that’s predictable and supportive and ready for learning to happen. That is typically a quiet, well-lit space to study and learn that have resources within reach. O’Rourke recommends parents be aware of any distractions.

“I know for me personally if I have a TV in the background or a lot of background noise it’s hard for me to concentrate.” O’Rourke said.

If a parent notices a child is often on his or her cell phone or other devices instead of paying attention to the on-screen lesson, then that’s an opportunity to teach the expected behavior.

When it comes to setting up a learning space at home for those who are learning on-line, O’Rourke recommends parents keep kids within earshot if there’s a concern. For students who are fully independent and adapting well to the virtual learning setting, parents don’t need to be anywhere near the screen. Younger kids and those with disabilities might need the parent in the room or adjacent to it. Whereas teenagers who are getting positive marks from teachers and talk positively about virtual learning can fly solo.

There is a much more detailed guide to incorporate the tenets of PBIS at home. Just check out this PDF from Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

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