As identified in the Collaborative Response Model, the pyramid of interventions allows school personnel to answer the question “So now what do we do?” by providing a visual framework of interventions, accommodations and strategies to support students at different levels of behaviour. A four-tiered Behavioural Pyramid of Intervention is a model for behavioural intervention supports provided at different levels to assist educators in identifying the needs of ALL students, match the level of support to severity, and then assess and respond with the most appropriate supports. The four tier model addresses the supports offered to students who are not only struggling with behaviour but those students whose academic progress may be being delayed due to the social, emotional, and behavioural challenges that are interfering with their success. The pyramid of behaviour interventions works to address the student’s needs that are foundational and essential to ensure that the students are available and ready for learning in the classroom.
Tier 1 – Focus on Proactive Strategies
The purpose of tier 1 behaviour interventions is to establish proactive strategies to prevent problem behaviour and promote positive behaviour. When tier 1 supports are deployed with fidelity, they should reduce the number of students who require costly and timely resources at tier 2, 3, and 4 and maximize the school resources to meet the needs of more students more effectively. Interventions in this tier honour the work that teachers, currently and mindfully, do to set up a positive learning environment for all students. It is essential that school staff collaborate and have input on the development and implementation of interventions and strategies at this level in order for an agreed upon and common approach to be most impactful. Effective supports and interventions at the tier 1 level include but are not limited to the staff: (a) having clear and common values and philosophy regarding inclusion, (b) the ability and desire to build positive relationships with students, (c) creating predictable and consistent classroom routines and procedures, (d) having a clear understanding and procedure for classroom reinforcement systems, and (e) delivering and supporting an effective and research-based social skill training program.
Tier 2 – Shared Teacher Approach to Target and Support
Tier 2 behaviour interventions are designed to be targeted and support students who have access to Tier 1 supports and may not be responding positively to them. These supports are more intensive since a smaller number of students are at risk for engaging in more serious problem behaviour and need more support. Tier 2 supports involve a shared teacher approach within the school community and includes an effective school-wide behaviour system that includes seven components a) an agreed upon and common approach to discipline, b) a positive statement of purpose, c) a small number of positively stated expectations for all students and staff, d) procedures for teaching these expectations to students, e) a continuum of procedures for encouraging displays and maintenance of these expectations, f) a continuum of procedures for discouraging displays of rule-violating behavior, and g) procedures for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the discipline system on a regular and frequent basis. To support the school-wide behaviour system interventions may include but not limited to: Behaviour Matrix, School Routines and Procedures, Individual Behaviour Contracts, Conflict Cycle, Check In/Check Out, Supplementary aids and accommodations and Zones of Regulation.
Tier 3 – Intensive Supports from a Trained Team
Tier 3 behaviour interventions are more intensive supports provided by other staff members and teachers who have a different level of behavioural expertise. Supports are designed to focus on the individual needs of students who, data supports, exhibit severe or extreme behavioural challenges. The supports should be tailored to a student’s specific needs and circumstances and involve a team of people willing to approach the behaviour with the goal of diminishing the problem behaviour in the most effective and efficient manner and in the least restrictive setting possible. Approaches to interventions may include programs and supports such as: (a) school social worker, (b) Intervention Team, (c) creation and safety plans, (d) Nonviolent Crisis Intervention,(e) Life Space Crisis Intervention, (f) Functional Behaviour Assessment, and (g) comprehensive data collection.
Tier 4 – Professional External Support
The 4th tier is for a small group of students that require access to professionals who support from outside of the school system. The students in this tier are what educators often call “the hardest kids to deal with” and openly display disruptive and difficult acting-out type of behaviours. A collaborative approach as opposed to an expert-driven approach is the most effective at this level. A multi-disciplinary team that may include a psychologist, Mental Health, Behaviour Consultant, Speech and Language Therapists, etc. are essential to ensure positive outcomes for the student having difficulties. Systems for Coordinated Service Plan meetings, Threat Risk Assessments, and Crisis Management may also need to be considered when addressing student need at this level.
The pyramid of behavior interventions is a tool that schools are building to inform and support their collaborative teams in this area. Each element is proactive and evidence-based and imperative in the implementation of positive classroom behavior support. The Behaviour Pyramid of Interventions model gives educators the skills and confidence to identify the needs of all students, match the level of support to the severity of behavioral challenges and then assess how the students respond to the intervention.