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Our Beliefs About Student Behavior


Student on the playground at school

Hawkswood School believes that all behavior has a purpose and a message. Whether a student has developmental disabilities or multiple disabilities, our job as educators is to understand and interpret each child’s unique attempts at communication and shape a functionally-based equivalent response.

Our person-centered approach allows us to develop an individualized perspective on each student’s behavior, and its communicative intent. Our educational framework embraces multi-dimensional strategies from behavioral, developmental, educational, and therapeutic models.

At Hawkswood, our deep respect for students has led to our consistent use of positive behavioral supports within a contemporary ABA model. Contemporary ABA focuses on external factors that are likely to create behavior patterns by observing what happens before a behavior occurs (antecedent) and what appears to maintain it (consequence). One priority of contemporary ABA is increasing functional and spontaneous communication and generalizing these skills in the natural setting.

A primary component of our educational framework involves assessment of and response to behavior that interferes with the child’s ability to be a successful participant in the classroom, family and community. When students have challenging behaviors that interfere with their life and learning, Hawkswood staff completes a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) — including a comprehensive environmental assessment — to help determine the function or purpose of the behavior from the student’s perspective.

We believe learning needs to be about more than reducing challenging behavior. Our approach to behavior management emphasizes teaching functionally equivalent skills and pro-social behavior. Our intention is to capture the naturally occurring communities of reinforcement that socially significant behavioral change provides. We recognize the benefit of external motivation systems while systematically teaching replacement behaviors. However, our ultimate goal is to teach students how to effectively use self-direction and self-management in an environment where natural and logical consequences are sufficient enough to maintain pro-social behavior over time.

At Hawkswood School, we also focus intently on prevention, and providing additional opportunities to demonstrate constructive behavior that facilitates personal learning and social growth. The result is that our classrooms are places where students gain a genuine sense of belonging.

We are highly accountable for our interventions. Data is collected daily to demonstrate the effect of intervention on student behavior. It is our intention that all students know that they are valuable contributors to their family, classroom, school and community.