The goal of Britten School is to foster students’ positive growth in the behavioral, emotional and academic realms to prepare them for return to their home school district setting. Faculty works daily to reach these ends by creating a positive school environment that emphasizes mastery. There are times when positive programming is not effective in decreasing negative and destructive behavior patterns. The design of all increasingly restrictive interventions incorporates gathering data, development/planning, ongoing supervision, training and evaluation.
Britten School’s point sheets are positively based; hence, points are never taken away. Points are either earned or not earned throughout the school day. This data is also summarized and made part of the grading-period report card. As stated earlier, positive reinforcements are critical for developing positive behaviors and for decreasing negative/destructive behaviors. Britten School has developed many types of positive reinforcement:
- The “good standing program” awards students with increased community privileges as a result of increased self-control.
- Daily, students are reinforced for obtaining at least 80% (80 points) of potential 100 points, 100% homework completion, no loss of self-control, no more than one 30-minute Intervention Area visit, and processing with a faculty member without further intervention. The reinforcers take different forms, depending on the level of classroom: primary, intermediate, middle school, junior high or high school. The daily rewards range in form from a free time activity choice/socialization to extra time on the computer.
- Weekly, point sheets are added up and also measured with the expectation of at least 80% performance along with at least 80% completion of all class and homework assignments, a passing grade in group therapy, five days of school attendance, effective self-regulation and no major offenses. This level of performance is recognized weekly with an earned activity, which allows students from each class to come and socialize. The students are presented with a certificate and given a special food treat. At the end of the month during the regular school year, students who have met the above criteria for four consecutive weeks are entitled to a community-based educational field trip. Transitioning students do not attend monthly earned field trips.
- Student of the Month is chosen on a monthly basis. Eligible students are nominated by classroom faculty and put to a general vote in the course of the faculty meeting. The honorees are recognized in the forum of the school’s community meeting for outstanding academic and/or emotional/behavioral progress toward IEP goals. This student then receives a certificate of achievement.
- The school has also developed a student council, comprised of representatives from each classroom. The council helps decide school service projects, holiday activities, and special events. Students serving on student council are expected to maintain an acceptable level of both academic and behavioral performance.
- Students receive art class with instructors from the Young Rembrandts.
- All students achieving Honor Roll status (Gold and Silver Honor Roll) are recognized each grading period by receiving a special certificate in the community assembly. These Honor Roll students also receive a special lunch and social activity.
- At the end of the school year, an Honors Day/Graduation ceremony is held to recognize students who have excelled in academic, social, and life-skill areas.
- Positive praise, encouragement and 1:1 meetings are an important part of the faculty’s daily interactions with the students.
Behavior-Based Bonus Points
On a daily basis, students have the opportunity of earning bonus points that are reflective of the following self-initiated behaviors:
- Positive peer role modeling
- Completion of additional academic work
- Extra service for the school/community
- Risk-taking in a therapeutic situation (group or individual)
Bonus points earned daily can be cashed in at the Bonus Store, which is open on a weekly basis. The Vocational Education Coordinator and selected high school students operate the store. Bonus points target specific behaviors that are not always addressed on the daily point sheet. Bonus points also give incentive to those students who may be struggling with the more general performance markers. All students are afforded the opportunity of visiting the Bonus Store, with the sole exception of those who exhibit physical aggression 24 hours prior for primary and intermediate students and 48 hours prior for middle school, junior high and high school students.
When a student’s under-stimulated or over-stimulated behavior becomes disruptive in the classroom, faculty remove the student and bring the student to the Sensory Area of the school. There, the student is offered a variety of sensory input activities geared to them specifically for the purpose of sensory recalibration and modulation. The room and its activities are under the guidance of the school’s occupational therapist. Generally, a student remains in the Sensory Area for 10-15 minutes. At the end of his/her visit, the student is asked to determine his/her capacity to return to the classroom and accept the role of the student.
Zones of Regulation
Furthermore, Britten School uses the Zones of Regulation, which is a self-regulation curriculum that provides each student ways to identify his/her current emotional and sensory state while also incorporating social thinking concepts. The Zones of Regulation curriculum also teaches students how to best identify strategies to more independently control their emotions, prevent impulsiveness, promote conflict resolution, and manage their sensory needs. This curriculum is incorporated into the Sensory Area at Britten School to provide an enhanced approach for each individual student. Overall, the Sensory Area provides the opportunity for resilience and gaining independence with self-care and prevention of crisis escalation.
In order to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone at Britten School, students may need to be removed from the learning environment. Students are removed to maintain the integrity of the classroom and learning process. This level of intervention allows faculty to assist the student in regaining emotional/behavioral control and to engage him/her in active problem solving. The use of behavioral intervention is necessary when the student makes choices that negatively affect themselves and their immediate environment. The classrooms provide a structured learning environment with a high level of predictability on a daily basis. Students are consistently assisted in transitioning from one activity to the next by faculty prompting and planned reminders. General prompts are commonly used to help the students orient to the task at hand. If the overall structure of the program and individual intervention is unsuccessful, students are simply removed from the activity, though remaining in the classroom in a focus five. This gives students a few minutes to calm and reflect on the mildly disruptive behavior. After the student completes the focus five, he/she is expected to talk about his/her behavior with a faculty member. For developmental reasons, junior high and high school students do not utilize the focus five intervention. They are simply removed from the classroom.
Use of intervention techniques follows a specific protocol for the safety of students and faculty. The student is asked to go voluntarily to the Student Support Area (SSA) with faculty supervision and minimal physical guidance (hand on shoulder or wrist). For a student who is unwilling to leave the classroom voluntarily, there will be a brief period of physical restriction during transport to the SSA utilizing a two-person transport technique. If a student is highly aggressive upon removal from the activity/room, an immediate physical intervention is initiated, either a team control position or children’s control position. Once the child has calmed sufficiently and is no longer a danger to self or others, he/she is brought to the SSA. Physical management of Britten School students utilizes behavior management techniques solely derived from the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). CPI techniques are the only approved techniques that are utilized. All faculty members attend mandatory training of approved intervention techniques, and they are certified annually. Students are given choices each step of the way to reinforce positive decision-making skills.
Britten School utilizes a SSA designed to meet the academic, sensory, behavioral and emotional needs of students who are not able to take advantage of the learning environment. A variety of techniques are used to teach students self-control, to problem solve, and to resolve conflicts, to reduce self-injury, and to teach coping and relaxation skills. Actual techniques are not limited to but may include one-to-one processing, personal journaling, meeting with small groups of students to resolve peer conflicts, academic tutoring as well as individualized de-stimulation and relaxation techniques. Additionally, multisensory strategies are available to assist with self-regulation and modulation. These sensory input activities include auditory, tactile, visual, proprioceptive (deep pressure), and vestibular (movement and balance) activity options.
Isolated time-out is defined as a confinement of a student in a time-out/seclusion room. Isolated time-out may be utilized for the purposes of de-stimulation and social isolation. Placement in isolated time-out only occurs when the student’s expression of behaviors, body language, response to other students and faculty present a significant safety risk to the general environment. It is Britten School’s practice not to restrict egress by engaging the magnetic lock of the door unless the student is actively attempting/threatening to harm others or to run away without regard to self-preservation. State standards require that no student shall be kept in isolated time-out for more than thirty minutes after he or she ceases presenting the specific behavior for which isolated time-out was imposed or any other behavior for which it would be an appropriate intervention. In practice, Britten School generally removes a student from a seclusion room fifteen minutes after the cessation of the over stimulated behavior. A timer is utilized for insurance of care.
Physical restraint is defined as holding a student or otherwise restricting his or her movements. Physical restraint only occurs when a student poses a physical risk to himself/herself and/or others. Students shall not be subject to physical restraint for using profanity or other verbal display of disrespect for themselves or others. A verbal threat shall not be considered as constituting a physical danger unless a student also demonstrates a means or intent to carry out the threat. A student shall be released from physical restraint immediately upon a determination of a staff member that the student is no longer an imminent danger of causing physical harm to himself/herself or others. Every effort is made in each physical intervention situation to engage the student in contracting for safe behavior to self and other, thus ending the restraint.
Students are constantly supervised and monitored during time spent in the SSA. Faculty ensures that the student’s needs are met, such as using the bathroom, eating lunch and receiving prescribed medications if these activities have been interrupted due to the student’s removal from the classroom. No student is offered lunch when in a seclusion room behaving in a volatile manner, thereby posing a threat of safety for the student as well as others. Once able to contract for safety, a student will be given lunch. During physical interventions, all attempts are made to protect basic human rights.
Any time that a student requires removal from the classroom to the SSA, a written report is made. A copy is sent to the parent/guardian with whom the child resides within twenty-four hours, and another copy remains in the student’s main school file. Non-custodial parents are eligible to receive SSA Notification Forms upon request in writing. Any parent/guardian who wishes to waive this notification and requirement must submit his/her request in writing.
This protocol follows standards set in Public Act 91-600 and Title 89 Administrative Code III, section 1.280 and 1.285.
The school sometimes utilizes other restrictive interventions. Students can be restricted from extra-curricular activities such as community-based educational experiences, holiday parties, and special assemblies. The school utilizes no highly restrictive interventions.