Keep it Positive

Our Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative courses are designed to help educators create positive and beneficial learning environments. To provide you with an overview of Positive Teaching’s many benefits for both teachers and students, our behaviour specialists Jill Hellemans and Micaela Rafferty have shared their expert insights.

Positive Teaching and Learning
How did you come to work with MultiLit?

We are both Board Certified Behaviour Analysts and Special Educators with backgrounds in early intervention, school-based intervention and positive behaviour supports across the not-for-profit and private sectors. We are now working at MultiLit as part of the team developing their Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative.

Our relationship with MultiLit is not a new one. In fact, we have both had roles within the company in the past — Micaela was a literacy tutor at the Exodus Redfern Centre, and Jill took the Reading Tutor Program to India in 2008.  With over 20 years of experience in this space, we have had the opportunity to develop and be a part of exciting programs and initiatives.

In 2006, we created and launched Sydney’s first government-funded, behaviour analytic early intervention program. We spent nearly 10 years at this organisation as Clinical Directors and managed clinical teams to provide mobile behaviour therapy services across Sydney Metro, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains regions.We have also run a private practice in Sydney’s Inner West, providing school-wide behaviour training and consultancy, as well as group-based intervention programs.

The majority of our work has focused on supporting young children and adolescents with disabilities and complex behavioural needs and their families. With this, we have collaborated with various educational settings including early childhood centres, primary and high schools and out of school hours care. We have experienced first-hand the need for teachers and support staff to be upskilled in effective, practical and positive classroom behaviour management strategies, and how building their capacity to create positive classrooms improves the quality of life of students with challenging behaviour. That is why we jumped at the opportunity to come on board with MultiLit to create a comprehensive learning series to drive a movement of Positive Teaching and Learning within schools.

What is Positive Teaching and Learning?

At MultiLit, we place a strong focus on ensuring students are engaged and ready to receive instruction. We know that without planning for effective classroom management, student engagement, participation and learning will be negatively impacted. That’s why the Positive Teaching method underpins all of MultiLit’s literacy programs.

The Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative builds on this to provide teachers and schools with more training and education to support students across all three tiers of the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework. Our goal is to create a way in which schools can create meaningful and lasting behaviour change for their students. This initiative is about investing in the education and training teachers need to best support student behaviour. Putting this work in upfront will build the capacity of teachers and create a positive learning environment for all students.

The MultiLit Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative comprises a series of Professional Development workshops, delivered via eLearning Modules, which start with an introduction to the general principles of Positive Teaching and become progressively more specialised, delving into behaviour assessment, monitoring and function-based intervention planning.

In March this year we will be launching five new modules as part of our learning series:

  • Function-based Thinking and Foundations of Behaviour
  • Functional Behaviour Assessment
  • Measurement of Behaviour
  • Replacement Behaviour and Motivation Strategies
  • Reinforcement Systems and Teaching Strategies
Does it differ from other teaching methods?

Positive Teaching and Learning is not so much a teaching method as it is an initiative to bring a set of positive and proactive classroom behaviour management principles and procedures, derived from science, to teachers, classrooms and schools. These evidence-based practices can be employed to support student engagement, participation and increase positive behaviour for all students — beginning with Tier 1 level supports, right through to students requiring Tier 3 support.

The frameworks underpinning best practice for whole-school positive behaviour support derives from Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA (the science of behaviour and learning), Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) and the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework. Positive Teaching and Learning encompasses these three methodologies and trains teachers to use a function-based approach to understand and support their students’ behaviour. This means employing behaviour support strategies that are linked to the reasons why a student is engaging in challenging behaviour, matching interventions and strategies to these functions, and carefully considering and setting up the environment to foster positive behaviour change.

How do students and teachers benefit from the Positive Teaching framework?

Classrooms are rapidly becoming more inclusive, which is exciting and something we have been working towards for a long time — but with that comes the challenge of greater diversity in the classroom, both from a learning perspective and a social and behavioural perspective. As classrooms become more diverse, teachers are experiencing an even greater need to understand and support students with challenging behaviour and diverse learning needs.

Research continually tells us that student behaviour is a major source of stress and burnout for teachers, so we know this is an area that teachers need support in. The Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative addresses this need directly by providing a whole-school approach to positive behaviour support and practical strategies for teachers that they can begin implementing straight away.

We need to move away from the ‘wait and see’ approach. Behaviour can easily strengthen over time, especially when we don’t understand the reasons behind a student’s challenging behaviour and the role the environment plays.  Empowering teachers with the skills to be proactive about behaviour support strategies, assess and intervene early will help them to reduce challenging behaviour and see increases in positive and appropriate behaviour.

What specialised support does Positive Teaching offer teachers?

It’s important to note that this is not just a one-off training workshop. We consider this to be a comprehensive education series for teachers to help them develop a new, technical skillset. Truly understanding, assessing and supporting challenging behaviour requires time and systematic, explicit instruction.

  • We provide many opportunities for practice and ensure that teachers walk away from our workshops with an in-depth understanding.
  • We offer flexible delivery of workshops, including online, self-paced eLearning modules that can be completed at your own pace.
  • Video footage of classrooms brings the scenarios and strategies to life. These are not only entertaining, but also help participants to practice the skills they are learning (such as behavioural observation and measurement techniques) and apply them directly to realistic case scenarios.
  • Our workshops provide many opportunities for active responding and participation through the use of activities, quizzes and more. We provide detailed and immediate feedback throughout so the activities provide further learning opportunities.
  • All workshops come with a set of downloadable resources that teachers can use in their classroom. We have specially designed assessment tools, data sheets, planning documents and intervention supports that have been designed with teachers in mind. This allows teachers to immediately walk away from the course and use the resources they have been trained on within the course
  • There is also an opportunity to follow these workshops with consultation packages where we can focus on the practical implementation of strategies within the specific school environment.
Why are you passionate about Positive Teaching and Learning?

We are passionate about Positive Teaching and Learning because we know that it will bring teachers and schools a positive and effective way to support the behavioural and learning needs of all students. These evidence-based concepts and strategies provide teachers with a set of powerful tools to enhance how they deliver instruction and manage their classrooms positively and effectively. We are excited to see schools becoming champions of Positive Teaching and Learning.

Register your interest in the Positive Teaching and Learning Initiative courses here.

Our self-paced courses will launch during March.

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