CHAMPS with Special Education Teachers

We were delighted to be invited to explore Randy Sprick’s CHAMPS  (Classroom Positive Behavior Interventions and Support) with the resource room teachers from an entire district.


We provide this two day professional learning at our Intermediate School District.  We have customized the learning for entire schools.  This would be the first time taking it to the special education teachers from an entire school district.  We were excited to support this group of dedicated teachers.  

In order to meet the needs of the individuals, we sent out a needs assessment survey prior to the face-to face interaction.  The learning design for the 3 hours incorporated these needs every step of the way.  These teachers spend the majority of their time with students who have the greatest academic and social/emotional/behavioral needs.

The Agenda

  1. Overview of CHAMPS and the book (video)
  2. Assessing teacher needs/student needs in terms of structure
  3. Creating explicit expectations for activities and transitions
  4. Creating structure for independent seat assignments while teacher is with students
  5. Early and late stage corrections
  6. Plan for further professional learning next year
  7. Feedback about the learning
Teacher Need/Student Need

Two brief reflection rubrics were used to get people thinking about their tolerance for movement, noise and chaos; the needs of their students.  So often, when behavior problems arise, there is a mismatch between the two.  The conversation was lively; teachers were brutally honest about their needs.

So often, teachers feel they don’t need any kind of assistance with the structure and organization of their classroom.  This exercise revealed some pretty strong preferences.  Teacher needs impact how they arrange the day; how they interact with students.

Creating Expectations for Activities and Transitions

People found this section most useful.  They were asked to create a list of activities they might have during the day (whole group instruction, small group instruction,  independent seat work,  group time, etc).    The CHAMPS acronym was used to help them determine their expectations

  • Conversation:  Can the students talk?  How loud?  
  • Help:  What do they do if they need help?
  • Activity:  What, specifically , should they be doing
  • Movement:  How mush movement is “ok”?
  • Participation:  What does engagement look like?

Telling Isn’t Teaching    This was a consistent take-away:  people felt that students should KNOW expectations because of their age OR because they were told.  Indeed, telling isn’t teaching.  Explicitly teaching and giving feedback repeatedly is what it takes to create routines that are predictable.  Students can do it if they know, for certain, what we want.

The last step to this part has to do with creating lesson plans to teach the expectations for every activity/transition.

The Rest

We moved into the rest of the content with deep conversation.  The remaining discussions were around creating structure for independent seat assignments while teacher is with students and early and late stage corrections

The group discussed possibilities for further learning throughout next year.

To help provide feedback for us, we decided to do the “I used to think…..Now I think” routine.   from Project Zero’s Cultures of Thinking.

Take Aways:

1.  Teachers THINK they are consistent and that students KNOW what the expectations are until they look at it deeply.  Most often, expectations change often; students aren’t clear about this.  Clever fellas push the envelope to learn where the boundaries are.

2.  Teachers often feel there is little they can do to improve the situation with their most difficult students.  However, there is MUCH they can do to make it better.  The relationship is the first place to go.  Consistent routines  are then pivotal.

3.  When confronted with a mismatch between our needs and the needs of students, it is easy to feel frustration.  However, our task is to do our best to support the child as needed.  As Rita Pierson says:  Every Kid Needs a Champion because “kids don’t learn from someone they don’t like”.

Staying hopeful when things get complicated in the classroom is important.  We can make a difference if we own the learning of students and create predictable environments for them to thrive.  Many aspects of the CHAMPS framework can be helpful guides for teachers looking to improve their craft.  


3 thoughts on “CHAMPS with Special Education Teachers

  1. I love the emphasis on relationships and the quote “kids don’t learn from someone they don’t like.” Have you read Lou Cozolino’s latest book, “The Social Neuroscience of Education”? That’s exactly his point as he goes through “how to turn brains on.”

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