Behavioral Consultation for Teachers

The Intervention

Behavioral Problem-Solving Consultation is a multi-step process that can be facilitated by a school mental health professional to help teachers identify, define and understand student behaviors, select and implement interventions with high quality and consistency, and evaluate outcomes. Although the teacher is the one implementing the intervention, a consultant can offer support, encouragement, guidance, and accountability, all of which can increase the likelihood that interventions and strategies are being implemented and evaluated in a high-quality manner.

Steps of Behavioral Problem-Solving Consultation

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Step 1: Form a collaborative relationship

a. There are 4 important skills to help build collaborative and trusting relationships the teachers:

  1. Ask open-ended questions (e.g., How do you think the student’s behavior is affecting the other students? What behaviors would you like to see improve? What do you most want to change?)
  2. Reflect statements the teacher makes (e.g., His behavior is really frustrating for you.)
  3. Summarize themes of several of the teacher’s comments (e.g., Let me make sure I’m understanding what you’re saying…..)
  4. Affirm and validate the teacher’s thoughts and feelings (e.g., You have put a lot of effort into helping this studentYour concern shows that you care about the student’s success).

Step 2: Identify and analyze the problem

  1. One way to define a problem is a difference between expected behavior from the class and observed behavior.

    • What would you like the student to be doing during this time?
    • What is the student actually doing during this time?

  2. It is important to understand the teacher’s expectation for a given situation, to define the problem/s in observable and measurable terms, and to understand factors that may trigger the problematic behavior and/or reinforce (intentionally or accidentally) the problematic behavior.
  3. It can be helpful to understand what behaviors the teachers would like to see increase and what behaviors the teacher would like to see decrease.

Step 3: Brainstorm solutions

  1. After clearly defining the goal for a student, work with the teacher to collaboratively brainstorm a list of potential solutions.
  2. To help generate ideas, you may ask the teacher what they have done for other similar students in the past or ask them to consider solutions that have worked for other teachers.
  3. View the list of options of Beacon Strategies and Interventions during this brainstorming process.
  4. If the teacher’s initial idea solution is particularly effective, you can pick that one right away and move to step 4. However, you may need to continue the brainstorming process and help the teacher to come up with more ideas.
  5. If the teacher says that they have already tried this solution and it does not work, it can be helpful to ask them questions about how they implemented the solution. If the solution is grounded in an effective strategy, but was simply implemented poorly, then focus your discussion on implementation issues. Validate the teacher for trying the solution but encourage them to make a “tweak” or slight modification to lead to the desired outcome. If there are better solutions, then praise the teacher for their attempts and guide them toward the more effective options.
  6. Effective solutions can often be identified by considering the answers to the following questions:

    • How can we provide greater positive reinforcement for the behaviors we want to see increase?
    • How can we reduce accidental/unintentional attention or reinforcement of the behaviors we want to see decrease?
    • How can we improve the effectiveness of the feedback and/or response that follows the behaviors we want to see decrease?
    • How can we offer greater opportunities to develop skill development so the student can meet expectations?

  7. Do we need to engage in activities to improve the student-teacher relationship so that the selected interventions are successful (link greetings)?

Step 4: Selecting a solution

  1. Help the teacher to critically evaluate each potential solution. This may be through pro/con lists, considering feasibility, how it may impact the student, how well it will address the problem, and how others involved (e.g., parent or principal) may feel about the solution.
  2. Pick one or two to attempt during the next week (or period of time until your next consultation session).

Step 5: Implementing a solution

  1. Begin to discuss implementation procedures with the teacher.
  2. You will want to discuss the specific behaviors the teacher will use, the materials needed, how and when the new strategy will be shared with the student and others (e.g., parent/caretaker, other teachers), when it will start, and what time of day it will be used.
  3. It may also be helpful to brainstorm the language the teacher will use to describe the solution to students or parents (see Caregiver Communication).
  4. You will also want to brainstorm challenges or barriers the teacher may face when implementing this solution. Then, brainstorm what the teacher can do to overcome these challenges and barriers.
  5. Discuss how they can ensure they are being systematic with their implementation and how they can use Beacon to progress monitor.

Step 6: Evaluation

  1. Finally, you will want to develop and agree upon a plan for how you will evaluate how well the solution is working.
  2. This data likely will come from Beacon progress monitoring, but there may be additional data that you or the teacher would like to collect.
  3. Decide when and how often you will evaluate the solution.
  4. Evaluation will include reports from the teacher about how well they implemented the solution. If it is possible for you to do a classroom observation when the teacher is using the intervention, this can help you learn how to best support the teacher by identifying strengths and areas for additional tweaks or growth of the teacher’s implementation.
  5. When you evaluate whether the approach is working, you may wish to gather the progress monitoring data from Beacon (or any other data collected) and review it with the teacher to see if the student is improving. Then you can discuss with the teacher if they want to continue on with the same plan, make any changes to the plan, or if they want to create a new plan with a different solution option. It is important to avoid evaluating whether something works too quickly. It can often take a couple weeks of consistent implementation before you can make a judgment about whether an approach is likely to be effective.

  • Behavioral teacher consultation may be most effective when it can be paired with a Beacon Classroom Intervention as this allows for monitoring of the implementation and outcomes of the specific interventions decided on during consultation.
  • Teachers may have multiple behaviors or situations that they want to target. However, it is usually most effective to focus on a small number of target behaviors (i.e., 2-4 at a time) a smaller number of strategies (i.e., 1-2 at a time), or a narrow portion of the day so that intervention implementation remains manageable for the teacher.
  • How to help teachers prioritize behaviors to focus on
    • Behaviors that are dangerousThe most frequently occurring behaviorsBehaviors that are the most stressful to the teacherFocused on skill or competency development rather than just extinguishing a behavior

    • Behaviors that start a chain of behaviors, or antecedent behaviors

Intervention Scorecard

This intervention is recommended for the following presenting problems.

Select an age group:


Other suitable presenting problems