No matter how many years you have taught, it is common for teachers to encounter students with diverse behavioral challenges. Although some days it may seem like you are the only teacher experiencing these extreme behaviors (I’ve been there). I can assure you, you are not alone.
These challenges can disrupt the learning environment, hinder academic progress, and sometimes completely overwhelm you. To address such issues effectively, schools will often utilize a tool known as a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP). In this blog post, we will explore what a Behavior Intervention Plan is, how and why it is created, and provide practical insights into its implementation for new and seasoned teachers.
Side note: If you already know what a BIP is and are looking for specific interventions to try, here are 14 positive behavior interventions to try in your classroom.
What is a Behavior Intervention Plan?
A Behavior Intervention Plan, or BIP, is a formal and individualized document that is designed to address and modify challenging behaviors exhibited by a student. A BIP is developed based on a functional behavior assessment (FBA) that identifies the specific triggers and consequences that lead to the problem behavior.
To put this in even simpler terms, a BIP is a proactive strategy aimed at preventing negative behaviors while promoting positive alternatives. The plan provides a structured framework to identify, analyze, and understand the reasons behind a student’s challenging behavior.
By addressing the root causes, teachers can support the student in developing more appropriate behaviors and achieving academic success. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Who creates a Behavior Intervention Plan?
Although you can of course try all sorts of different behavior interventions in your classroom, a formal BIP is developed collaboratively by a team of professionals, including educators, therapists, and caregivers, who work with the individual.
In order for a student to receive a behavior intervention plan, an FBA has to be completed. This functional behavior assessment must be completed by someone trained in the specific type of data collection and analysis. This person is typically a school psychologist or behavior analyst.
You as the teacher would be a tool in the creation of BIP, but it is not your sole responsibility.
Importance of BIP’s in Education
You know as well as I do that as teachers, we are there to teach. We want all students to leave our classroom prepared for the next grade level. But sometimes challenging behaviors can make this goal appear to be unattainable.
Enter… Behavior Intervention Plans.
When used correctly, they are critical tools for promoting positive outcomes for individuals with challenging behaviors. A well-designed (and correctly implemented) BIP can help prevent problem behaviors, reduce the frequency and intensity of problem behaviors, and promote the development of more appropriate behaviors.
BIPs are especially important for individuals with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, who may have difficulty communicating their needs and may engage in challenging behaviors as a way of expressing frustration or seeking attention. A BIP can help these individuals learn more effective ways of communicating their needs and can reduce the likelihood of problem behaviors.
Creating a Behavior Intervention Plan
As stated previously, it is not the sole job of the classroom teacher to create a formal BIP. But, I do find it helpful and important for teachers to be knowledgeable about the steps that go into creating a behavior intervention plan. This way, you can make sure you are being the best advocate for your students as possible.
It’s also important to note that federal laws have left the educational creation of BIP’s up to individual states and school districts. Be sure to check with your state laws and school procedures for the full process.
Typically, it will look something like this…
Step 1- Identify the behavior: The first step in creating a BIP is to identify the specific behavior that needs to be addressed. This could be anything from disruptive outbursts to non-compliance with instructions.
Step 2- Collect data: Teachers can then employ various methods such as observation, anecdotal records, and behavior rating scales to gather relevant information.
Step 3- Analyze the behavior: Once data is collected, it is essential to analyze the behavior to determine its function. This involves identifying the antecedents (triggers) that precede the behavior and the consequences that follow. Understanding the function helps in developing appropriate interventions.
This step will likely be done with your school’s behavior team (principal, assistant principal, SPED team, psychologist, school counselor, etc).
Step 4- Complete an FBA: Again, a teacher does not complete a functional behavior assessment. There will be someone assigned to this duty at your school.
Depending on your school’s procedures, they may switch steps 3 and 4 around.
Step 5- Set goals: Collaboratively with other professionals, set clear and measurable goals for the student’s behavior. These goals should be specific, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
Step 6- Develop strategies: A goal is meaningless without strategies to get there! Based on the analysis and FBA, select evidence-based strategies that can effectively address the target behavior. These strategies may include positive reinforcement, environmental modifications, self-regulation techniques, or social skills training.
Step 7- Implement the plan: Implementing the BIP involves the consistent application of the chosen strategies (yes, consistency is key). Teachers should communicate and collaborate with other staff members, ensuring everyone is aware of the plan and their roles in its execution.
Also, always be sure to DOCUMENT. I know you probably hear that buzzword way too often, but it is crucial to the success of any formal plan. Also, it can help you evaluate what is and isn’t working.
Tips for Successfully Implementing a Behavior Intervention Plan
There’s no doubt about it, it can sometimes be challenging to successfully implement a behavior intervention plan with fidelity. As a teacher, you have 1,001 things going on every single minute and the thought of implementing ANOTHER plan is enough to put you over the edge. Here are some tips that may help put you at ease (Hint: most of these tips are great for your WHOLE class).
- Establish a supportive classroom environment: Create a positive and inclusive classroom culture that promotes respect, cooperation, and mutual understanding among students. This not only will help your student with a BIP, but will be beneficial for all students.
- Consistency and clarity: Clearly communicate expectations and rules to students, ensuring consistency in enforcing them. Predictability and structure can help students with behavioral challenges feel more secure and reduce the likelihood of disruptive behaviors. If you say you are going to do something, be sure to do it. Every.single.time.
- Reinforce positive behavior: I know that this can sometimes be hard when you are in the midst of chaos, but it is extremely important. Acknowledge and reinforce positive behaviors consistently (oops, there’s that word again). Offering praise, rewards, or privileges can motivate students to engage in appropriate behaviors and create a more positive learning environment. Do not just focus on calling out the negatives.
- Use visual supports: Visual aids, such as schedules, visual cues, or behavior charts, can assist students in understanding and following routines, managing transitions, and monitoring their own behavior. This will likely be a part of a child’s BIP as well.
- Collaborate and communicate: Do not be afraid to ask for help. You do not have to do everything by yourself (I know I know it’s a common teacher trait). Call parents. Ask the school psychologist for suggestions. Ask your school counselor to observe.
- Document: Yep, I said it again. Documentation is crucial to the success of a BIP in education. You have to know what is working and what isn’t. It’s okay to request changes and additional meetings if you do not believe a strategy is effective. Grab this set of documentation templates and forms I put together to help you get started.
Although they may seem overwhelming at first, behavior intervention plans can be powerful tools for teachers to support students with challenging behaviors. By identifying the underlying causes, setting realistic goals, and implementing evidence-based strategies, educators can create a positive and inclusive learning environment. Remember, the success of a BIP depends on collaboration, consistency, and a genuine commitment to understanding and meeting the individual needs of each student.