"Next" Magazine Vol. 3 Fall 2016 - Page 5

New master’s program aims to reduce classroom distractions I STORY AND PHOTOS BY AMANDA NELSON nstructional time is precious and can easily get eaten away. Paper airplanes take flight, students hit one another, outbursts occur and conversations distract. Often, distractions are a result of kids being kids. However, students with disabilities may engage in frequent and severe disruptions which are beyond the general educator’s training. Classroom management and decreasing disruptive behaviors can be a big struggle for teachers. A new Applied Behavior Analysis master’s program is reaching out to help in these situations. Just in its first year, donations to the program through UK’s Women and Philanthropy network have made it possible for graduate students to serve high-need schools where children and youth exhibit challenging behaviors. The graduate students are providing behavioral assessment and intervention support to teachers, parents and other adults working with children who struggle with academic and social functioning. Dr. Allan Allday, who founded the program at the UK College of Education, said these children may have an emotional or behavioral disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or intellectual disability. Others may not have a diagnosis, but be stuck in a pattern of inappropriate behavior that may be remedied. In its first year, the program has served 19 schools, including some in eastern Kentucky, where such services are scarce. “At one high-need school, our students worked with a general education teacher who was having difficulty finishing lessons because she was spending so much time managing problem behaviors,” Allday said. “We developed an intervention plan for this teacher and, within two weeks, she was getting to finish lessons because the problem behaviors had decreased so much. Within six weeks, the students were earning extra recess. The class went from students missing out on instructional time to now having enough time to be on the playground more frequently.” Not all graduates of the program will go on to work in schools – some will find jobs in private practice, where they will meet clients in clinics and home settings and do contracted work within schools. However, much of the UK program is school-based because schools offer an ideal training ground for applied behavior analysis students. “A school environment is more dynamic than working one-on-one with a client,” Allday said. “Plus, it allows us to make an impact in the state by providing a service some districts may otherwise not be able to afford.” Allday Ault Lane Currently, the intensive year-and-a-half program consists of 37 hours with courses taught by faculty members Allday, Melinda Ault, Justin Lane and Amy Spriggs. In addition to the course work, each student will have spent 1,000 hours working in schools and related settings, at no cost to the clients. Each student is supervised by faculty members Allday, Lane and Sally Shepley at no cost to students. Private supervision normally costs $100 to $125 per hour. “When we are asked to visit a classroom, it’s usually at a time when the teachers and administrators are at a loss,” Danielle Crawford, a student in the program, said. “They’ve tried multiple approaches to no avail, or they’ve reached a point where they need to teach a skill or address a behavior that they don’t feel they have the knowledge or training to do. We can help, and that provides a sense of relief.” Shepley Spriggs | 5