The success of school aged children within their home, school, community and academic lives is a function of their education. My goal is to create a safe, appropriate learning environment for the students I teach. Facilitation of learning pre-language, language, pre-academic, academic, and life or adaptive living skills is essential to their achievement. It is my belief that all children should and are capable of maintaining and progressing in academic and functional life skills at home, school and in their community.
When school encompasses children’s lives for almost as much time as an adult’s employment, one could surmise that school is their equivalent of work. Therefore, those experiences are a large portion of how children learn to “live and cope in society”, just as work experiences affect adults’ lives.
Per progressivism, learned behavior comes from observing and having experiences that have meaning. Encouraging learning theory while incorporating a hands on approach increases the amount of meaning and applicability to students’ lives.
When students solve problems in the classroom similar to those they will encounter outside school, it provides them with the tools needed to become flexible problem solvers in preparation for adult lives. Teaching functionally and naturally within the child’s actual environment (home, school, community, play, etc.) deters rote and scripted responding.
Additionally, behaviorism and education are mutually inclusive because when intrinsic motivation is diminished or extinguished, extrinsic motivation or reinforcement serves to strengthen or reduce behaviors. Behavior Analysis was designed to assess behavior to create behavior change. Therefore, teachers create an environment where appropriate reinforcers exist to facilitate learning and establish acceptable behavior within the classroom. By employing these procedures as part of teachers’ classroom management, it enhances the productivity of the students and classroom.
Consideration of learning styles is fundamental in determining differential instruction. Employing auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile components to lesson plans is setting up the students and class as a whole to succeed. Using various approaches solidifies learning for all. Identifying needed modifications leads to efficacy.
The idea that every moment in the classroom is a teachable moment is critical to building rapport, trust and a safe, appropriate learning environment. Teachable moments incorporate all aspects of life. For instance, respect, consistency, and collaboration with students create a cohesive classroom. Like the old adage says, “If you give respect, you get respect.” If you give
consistency or a collaborative attitude, you get the same in return. Teaching students these lessons is as invaluable as their math or science lessons.
Overall, I believe a comprehensive curriculum is the most important perspective to have in education. Taking into consideration students lives as a whole can lead teachers to enhance their comprehension of problems, solve problems that lead to increased productivity, reduce inappropriate behaviors and generate dynamic, motivated students and people.
CHRISTEN RUSSELL, MS, BCBA (Founder and Director of The Quiet Child Therapy, LLC)
Christen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her clinical experience consists of providing services in the home, school/academic, community, vocational and residential setting. She has worked with children, adolescents, and adults (ranging from 6 months old – 65 years old) with autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, ODD, OCD, FAS, anxiety, developmental and physical delays. Christen has also been providing staff and parent training for nine years. She is a professional member of Autism NJ, the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts, and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
Christen has her Masters of Science in Psychology with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis from Kaplan University. She has her BA from Rutgers University.
With an understanding of procedures in early child development, for developmentally and functionally delayed and autism and working in the field for over 14 years, Christen provides a broad spectrum of clinical expertise.