Southern Local teachers begin ‘Expect Success’ program

By Scott Wolfe - Special to the Sentinel

RACINE — Behavioral challenges are a part of every teacher’s daily routine. Just like a size 9 1/2 shoe doesn’t fit everyone; ways to teach students don’t fit all people.

Southern Local has always taken pride in training its special education staff and keeping them abreast of the latest techniques that work with children. General education teachers have worked in inclusion classrooms on the same skills. Last week, a team of teachers began a program — Expect Success — that not only involves part of the special education staff, but school guidance and general education personnel.

Southern has put together a team that includes an inclusion special education teacher, two special education unit teachers, the elementary guidance counselor, and a general education teacher. Team members are Chris Stout, Lisa Schenkelberg, Leslie Dunfee, Beth Bay and Andrea Wiseman. Attending the first session as well were elementary Principal Tricia McNickle and Director of Special Education Scott Wolfe.

Initial stages of the program stress the importance of teachers building positive relationships with all students. Two key components are stressed in the program — building relationships and building on the positive.

The Expect Success program co-exists with another program — Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions — already being implemented at Southern.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary school-wide, classroom and individual systems of support.

Behavioral challenges occur on a continuum and include those behaviors that prevent a student from participating in educational opportunities, limit social interaction or interfere with academic progress. These “behaviors” could be those that are disruptive and perhaps even dangerous, however concerning behaviors also include those that are passive, such as the student that does not participate, sleeps in class, or does not complete academic assignments.

The goal of the Expect Success team is to provide support, network, build a foundation of positive replacement behaviors, and work toward development of life skills that will help children work toward independence and success as adults.

At the completion of the training, the Southern educational team is expected to:

  • Utilize a functional behavior assessment process to determine appropriate supports for students with complex needs
  • Identify underlying characteristics and issues that drive students to engage in actions and behaviors that interfere with learning
  • Develop and implement intervention plans utilizing evidence based practices that target teaching the student critical skills for academic and social success
  • The program will be an ongoing program that holds its last session in March 2017. Part of the learning outcomes include case studies, and research based instruction.
  • Organizers note that “no one has a magic wand”. Building and establishing procedures is a process and create the foundation for a successful school culture that helps all students on the spectrum have success.

By Scott Wolfe

Special to the Sentinel