Responding to Reoccurring Behaviour Concerns: An Examination of Tier 3 and Tier 4 Supports

Responding to Reoccurring Behaviour Concerns is the sixth of the 10 Key Components to Responsive Behaviour Support.

It is concerning when behaviour challenges continue to be a significant concern for students and staff. Responding to challenging behaviour after Tier 1 and Tier 2 supports (discussed in previous blogs) have been exhausted requires a systematic approach that is understood by staff at all levels of an organization.

How do we respond to students when they continue to experience difficulties and exhibit challenging behaviours? Tier 3 and Tier 4 supports may be required and involve more intensive supports from a trained team as well as professional external supports.

Tier 3 behaviour supports are more intensive and provided by other staff members in the school who have a different level of behavioural expertise, training or programming knowledge beyond the classroom teacher. Supports are designed to focus on the individual needs of students that may exhibit severe or extreme behavioural challenges. The supports at this level are generally 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. It is also intended to teach new coping and management strategies to build a student’s repertoire when facing challenging emotions and interactions.

Tier 4 supports are for a small group of students that require access to professionals who support from the district or outside of the school system. The students who require this kind of support are what educators often call “the hardest kids to deal with” and openly display disruptive and difficult acting-out types of behaviours. A collaborative approach as opposed to an expert-driven approach is the most effective at this level.

When responding to reoccurring behaviour concerns that continue to be challenging, it is important to pause and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What social, emotion, physical, or intellectual considerations might I be missing?
  • What is the behaviour communicating?
  • How can I respond differently so as not to inadvertently encourage negative behaviours?
  • What is this child’s background? Is there trauma or adverse childhood experiences contributing to the behaviour?
  • Can we narrow down to one key issue at this point in time for the student?

When we begin to explore the answers to the above questions and seek the reasons behind the behaviour, we may need to provide supports such as:

  • Increased parent/family involvement
  • Small group grief counselling
  • Daily Check-in, Check-out process to create connection and consistency
  • Breakfast and snack plan for a child who may be coming to school hungry
  • Exercise regime to promote the production of endorphins
  • Focused professional development for staff to support students
  • A safety plan to keep all students and staff safe where there are high risk concerns
  • Data collection to seek out patterns of behaviour and target specific behaviours to support

Seeking support from different levels of an organization is a collaborative endeavor that engages all adults to provide proactive interventions to meet the needs of students who have behaviour challenges. At the Tier 3 and Tier 4 level, supports generally include a layered structure of teams in order to provide specific supports to students. The next blog in this series examines how Collaborative Response provides us with a comprehensive structure that includes a number of teams who focus on the needs of all students at all levels of the Continuum of Supports.

Author: Barb Pears