Improving Learning by Defusing Disruptive Behaviors

Improving Learning by Defusing Disruptive Behaviors

When a program works, you stick with it. And when it works well, you expand it to maximize the number of people that may benefit from it. That has certainly been the case for the Educational Care Collaborative (ECC) in Hamden Public Schools.

With the help of two multi-year grants from The Community Foundation's Grace Donahue and Doris Feldman Funds, the ECC has grown from a pilot program addressing emotional and behavioral needs of elementary students in three classrooms at Church Street School, to an integrated, multi-faceted service for students and parents at two Hamden schools. Partnered with the Yale Child Study Center, the ECC also provides home-based support for families who need it through its Great Start program. 

Classroom interventionists, who are graduate students in school psychology, special education, or related fields at Southern Connecticut State and Fairfield Universities, assist teachers by defusing emotional or behavioral outbursts, redirecting students back to the classwork at hand. The interventionists also impart strategies for teachers to use when the interventionists are not in the classroom. 


Dr. Joy Fopiano (left), professor in the Department of Elementary Education at Southern Connecticut State University, supervises classroom interventionists who serve in K-3 classrooms to provide strategies for reducing behavioral problems and increasing attention to instruction. 

In most cases, this has been shown to reduce the number of referrals to student support, according to a progress report from Hamden Public Schools, thus keeping the students in the classroom and learning with their peers.

"The classroom interventionists help our young students develop the social, emotional and behavioral strategies they need to fully benefit from classroom instruction,” says Dr. Joseph DiBacco, principal at Shepherd Glen Elementary School. “Our teachers are able to focus more of their efforts on teaching rather than discipline, and the entire classroom benefits from a positive and supportive classroom environment."  

The services provided to families by the Great Start program personnel were reported to be very helpful in aligning a student’s behavior at home to what was expected in the classroom.

The addition of a school-based health center at Church Street School has offered students and parents an extra layer of support when mental health services may not be accessible or affordable elsewhere.


Did You Know?

During the early 1990’s, studies on the effects of interventionists in the classroom showed a 78% decrease in disruptive behavior among students. 
Source: American Psychological Association

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