Schools use Collaborative Problem-Solving to address student behaviourial challenges to improve learning.
SCHOOLS IN THE Halton District School Board are incorporating a unique teaching approach to address student behaviourial challenges to help them stay connected and focused on classroom learning.
Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) addresses challenging behaviour in a way that helps students better control their thinking ability in more adaptive ways, explained Malerie Borbath, Principal at Burlington’s Sir Ernest MacMillan Public School and a CPS trainer with the Board. This approach is an innovative and evidence-based approach to understanding and helping elementary students with behavioural challenges. CPS helps teach children to develop cognitive skills relating to flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving skills.
Borbath said when a student exhibits challenging behaviour at school, rather than rendering consequences in punitive ways, educators take the position that the student was trying to do the best he/she could in the moment. The situation is then analyzed and teachers begin to determine what skills the student needs to strengthen. After a certain pattern of behaviour has been recognized – such as a student having difficulty lining up for a morning exercise break – a teacher will have a discussion with a student to figure out a way to minimize future disruptions.
“We ask the student if he or she has any ideas about what we can do about the situation and then we come up with mutually acceptable solutions,”Borbath said, adding the student and teacher will talk at a point about the effectiveness of the solution.
CPS is best used to proactively deal with a situation that comes up repeatedly, she said. It can also be used in the moment when a child is having an issue. It can help de-escalate the situation and can be useful if one of the skills the student needs to work on is, for example, frustration tolerance.
CPS is particularly useful because it helps the teacher take a more understanding and compassionate approach to a situation while helping the student feel their concerns and opinions are being heard and understood, said Margaret Nimigan, Principal at Burlington’s Pineland Public School and a CPS Board trainer.
“This promotes a strong student-teacher relationship that is imperative to making this kind of work successful,” she said. “Furthermore, the process of talking through the concerns and potential solutions builds the skills the student needs to handle other situations in the future.”
Teachers and other staff attend CPS training to learn to adopt a compassionate mindset, discuss and analyze situations, hypothesize about lagging thinking skills, plan conversations, and role play with a colleague to build confidence, said Borbath.
“Our hope is that every teacher will one day take this approach for the benefit of their students,” she said.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, the Halton District School Board will be hosting a presentation about Collaborative Problem-Solving led by behavioural expert Dr. J. Stuart Ablon. It will be held 7–9 p.m. at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre (440 Locust St, Burlington).
Dr. Ablon is the Director of Think:Kids in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.