PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Professional Development (PD) is an important component of any school initiative.  JLA has provided PD on a range of topics to school districts across New England.  Our approach is to work individually with our referring school to develop unique training opportunities based upon the school/district’s vision.  We also believe that PD is best used as part of an ongoing training initiative.  We will work with you to tailor follow-up staff meetings or direct consultation opportunities to ensure that staff understand concepts and can apply them in their classrooms with success.  Please contact our Supervisor of School-Based Services, Danielle Cooke, at 413-265-0588 or email at dcooke@jameslevineassoc.com to develop an individualized PD plan for your agency. 

What PD opportunities are schools asking for?

JLA is known in New England as a leader in school based mental health consultation.  We offer PD opportunities for schools to help them develop their ability to understand and respond effectively to students presenting with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges.  Popular PD requests include the following topics:

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Trauma Informed Schools

Child neurodevelopment is modulated by our early experiences.  Children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are likely to experience heightened levels of stress hormone (Cortisol) in their blood as well as a more easily triggered sympathetic nervous system (Fight, Flight, Freeze) response.  These neurodevelopmental adaptations impact attention, memory, language, and behavioral regulation abilities.  Children with high levels of ACEs can struggle to follow expected behaviors and succeed academically in the classroom as a result.  Professional Development on Trauma Informed Schools often includes the following learning objectives

  • Understand the relationship between ACEs and negative academic and health outcomes

  • Understand the skill deficits associated with exposure to ACEs 

  • Understand how these skill deficits manifest in classroom behavior

  • Identify strategies to build safety and trust in the classroom to reduce student anxiety

  • Learn how to view behavior through a “trauma” lens

  • Understand the importance of teaching social-emotional skills

  • Learn tiered approaches to building student social-emotional competencies

  • Identify self-care strategies that allows a teacher to create a predictable and consistent learning environment

Social-Emotional Learning

Schools are increasingly identified as responsible for teaching social-emotional competencies in addition to academic concepts.  There are many barriers to effective Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) implementation.  First, staff find it challenging to find the time to explicitly teach these skills given other academic mandates.  Second, few staff have received intensive training for how to promote these competencies in their classroom.  Third, many schools struggle to focus on proactive SEL instruction when they are dedicating significant resources to reactive approaches to externalizing behaviors.  Professional Development in Social-Emotional Learning often focus on the following objectives

  • Identifying the relationship between social-emotional competency and academic success

  • Understanding the social-emotional competencies that promote classroom success

  • Identifying tiered approaches to building social-emotional competencies

  • Learning classroom structures and routines to embed Social-Emotional Learning into academics

  • Learning classroom structures to support effective break-taking

  • Identifying effective collaboration between school counselors and teachers to promote social-emotional competencies

Managing Anxiety in the School Setting

Anxiety disorders are on the rise in the United States.  Children with anxiety are more likely to make frequent physical health complaints (somatization) which leads them to the nurse.  They are also more likely to engage in a range of escape behaviors to avoid uncomfortable anxiety symptoms, including classroom/school refusal.  The response to these anxiety symptoms can often make them worse.  Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) often call for students to be able to access their counselor as needed when anxious.  Other accommodations include removing task demands that elicit anxiety.  These responses fuel student anxiety because the child does not have the opportunity to overcome their fears.  Professional Development around anxiety disorders often focus on the following objectives:

  • Overview of the various anxiety disorders and how they manifest throughout development

  • Identifying the negative impact of anxiety on cognition and availability for learning

  • Understanding the relationship between avoidance behaviors and increased anxiety

  • Understanding common thoughts/beliefs that increase anxiety (e.g. perfectionism)

  • Identifying Tier 1 universal strategies to decrease anxiety in the classroom

  • Identifying evidence -based skill building approaches to manage anxiety

Practical Strategies for Managing Challenging Behavior

Teacher training programs provide little to no classes in behavior management.  This leaves many teachers ill prepared for supporting their students to be ready to learn and exhibit expected behaviors in the classroom.  This training aims to provide teachers with concrete strategies to better support student behaviors in the classroom.  Professional Development in classroom management often focus on the following objectives:

  • Understanding that children would do better if they could do better – problem behavior is a result of skill deficits

  • Identifying common skill deficits that underlie problem behavior

  • Identifying the environmental variables that maintain problem behavior

  • Understanding the importance of understanding the function of a behavior to inform intervention

  • Learning interventions for escape-maintained behavior

  • Learning interventions for attention-maintained behavior

  • Understanding effective use of reinforcement to shape appropriate replacement behaviors

Teacher and Student

Paraprofessional Training

Paraprofessionals are essential to student success.  They are often utilized to implement behavior plans, collect data, and work collaboratively with teachers and other school staff.  Paraprofessionals require a range of skills to perform their job competently.  JLA offers a range of paraprofessional training on the following topics

  • Effective student interactional strategies to promote compliance

  • Data Collection

  • Understanding reinforcement

  • Understanding mental health diagnosis

  • Prompt hierarchies – when to provide or fade supports in the classroom

School Psychologist Training

School Psychologists are being asked to complete an increasingly diverse array of evaluations.  This includes educational autism evaluation and risk/threat assessments.  JLA provides training and supervision of school psychologists who are being asked to provide these assessments.  Topics may include:

  • Using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) as part of an autism evaluation

  • Understanding the difference between threat and risk assessments

  • Using an appropriate battery to effectively identify risk for future violent behavior

School Counselor Training

School Counselors are being asked to provide more intensive mental health interventions in the schools.  This includes both skill building groups as well as ongoing individualized grid level services for students on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).  This push has led school counselors to have greater need for professional development in evidence-based mental health intervention.  JLA has provided training to school counselors on the following topics:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) interventions for anxiety management

  • Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to improve student coping and interpersonal skills

  • Modifying Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for individuals with High Functioning Autism

  • Teaching strategies to build student Executive Function (EF) skills

  • Using Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques with students resistant to change

James Levine & Associates has also provided Professional Development for other agencies, including:

  • Primary Care Practices

  • Hospitals

  • Courts/Forensic Settings

  • Human Service Agencies

  • Daycares/Preschools

JLA has clinical social workers, psychologists, and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) available to meet your organization’s specific Professional Development need.  Please contact our Supervisor of School-Based Services, Danielle Cooke, at 413-265-0588 or email at dcooke@jameslevineassoc.com to develop an individualized PD plan for your agency. 

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