Are you interested in taking on meaningful challenges in special education, making an impact on individual student success, immersing yourself in the classroom, and developing an expertise in behavior therapy? Then consider a career as a behavior intervention specialist!
As a behavioral intervention specialist, you'll be able to help students who have learning, emotional, mental, and/or physical disabilities build their confidence and make progress. Depending on the school system, behavior intervention specialists are also called behavior interventionists or behavior intervention implementation (BII) specialists. Vital members of the school support team, BIIs have at least an associate’s degree and requisite training in behavioral intervention.
If you become a behavior intervention specialist, you’ll attend to student behavior while addressing the emotional component of learning. You’ll use evidence-based strategies designed by a team of experts to meet the needs of each student. The role of behavior intervention specialists is similar to that of paraprofessionals or special education aides, but with a focus on what makes students "tick."
8 Tips for Behavioral Intervention Specialists
If you want to embark on a challenging yet fulfilling behavior intervention implementation job, here are 8 tips that can make you a success:
- Inclusion is the law.
The behavior intervention specialist role exists so all students can access their right to education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Regardless of ability, each student is entitled to the same level of inclusion, course participation, and respect as their peers. The job of a behavioral interventionist can be challenging, but it is immensely meaningful to those who find reward in supporting student progress and learning. In fact, the impact you can make as a BII is even measurable through data (more on that later)!
- You must presume competence.
Special education students can and will learn with the right support, and it's imperative you build off of their current knowledge and skill level while always offering positive supports. There is no typical student, but any student will perform better with a confidence boost. Always emphasize the student's strengths and accomplishments, as they want to be successful but may face unseen barriers. You must work just as hard as they do to account for these barriers.
- Rapport is key.
Building rapport with your students is essential because, without it, students can’t perform to the best of their ability through your support. Building rapport takes genuine effort and entails having patience, exercising empathy, and letting the student lead you at times. Get to know each student, as well as their peers, teachers, administrators, and guardians. Many students are more comfortable with your presence if they feel you are part of the larger learning environment and not singling them out, which may draw attention to their disability.
- Communication makes it happen.
As a behavior interventionist, you should be in ongoing communication with staff and teachers regarding how each student's needs are being addressed. In addition to building rapport, it’s crucial to collaborate and share information as appropriate. Inform the classroom teacher of behavior plan specifics. Communicate to your supervisor when new behaviors arise or when you have ideas that may help with the student’s behavior support plan. It is not your responsibility to determine the behavior support plan, but your input is essential.
- You should follow the behavior support plan, yet be observant.
Behavior management is based on functional behavior analysis (formal observation) as well as your own interactions with the students in their regular environment (informal observation). Both formal and informal observation are critical to the student's success and to your ability to address the student’s needs. As a BII, your role will be highly structured, even though part of the behavior plan may look like you are sitting near the student, not doing much. Sometimes not interfering is part of the structured plan!
- There is significant data collection involved.
Behavior management uses evidence-based strategies, and that evidence comes in the form of data. You will observe, measure, and record any behavior frequencies, durations, successes, and unsuccessful attempts (to name a few). As a behavior intervention specialist, you will be responsible for collecting and submitting accurate data at all times.
- It’s important to know your acronyms.
If you’re told to “seek IEP and BSP/BIP information based on ABA,” you’ll need to know the lingo. The IEP is the individualized education program or plan. This is the document that, among other things, defines the student's goals. The BSP/BIP, or behavior support/behavior intervention plan, spells out precisely how to manage behavior to meet those goals using ABA, or applied behavior analysis, therapy.
- Learning is social and emotional.
You are there to support the behavioral, academic, social, and emotional needs of the student. It's important to value each student as a whole, focus on strengths, always remain calm, and never take anything personally. Students learn better when they feel safe and are having fun.
Ready to Find Your Ideal Behavior Intervention Specialist Job?
Cross Country Education has flexible opportunities for behavior interventionists in a variety of educational settings from coast to coast.
Find your ideal behavior interventionist job today.