Check in Check Out (CICO) a tool to help set expectations and improve classroom behavior

Students can be motivated to improve classroom behaviors if they have both a clear road-map of the teacher’s behavioral expectations and incentives to work toward those behavioral goals.  This modified version of Check-In/Check-Out (CI/CO) is a simple behavioral intervention package designed for use during a single 30- to 90-minute classroom period (Dart, Cook, Collins, Gresham & Chenier, 2012). The teacher checks in with the student to set behavioral goals at the start of the period, then checks out with the student at the close of the period to rate that student’s conduct and award points or other incentives earned for attaining behavioral goal(s).

First Step: Make a behavior report card for your student needing extra TLC.

Generic Behavior Report Card

Custom Behavior Report Card

Procedure. During any class session or other evaluation period when CI/CO is in effect, the teacher follows these 3 steps:

  1. Check-In. At the start of the class session, the teacher meets briefly with the student to review the behavioral goals on the Behavior Report Card and to provide encouragement. The teacher also prompts the student to set a behavioral goal on at least one of the target behaviors (e.g., “Today I will not leave my seat once without permission.”).

  2. Monitoring/Evaluation. During the session, the teacher observes the student’s behaviors. At the end of the session, the teacher rates the student’s behaviors on the Behavior Report Card.

  3. Check-Out. At the end of the class session, the teacher again meets briefly with the student. The student reports out on whether he or she was able to attain the behavioral goal(s) discussed at check-in. The teacher then shares the BRC ratings. If the student has earned a reward/incentive, the teacher awards that reward and praises the student. If the student fails to earn the reward, the teacher provides encouragement about success in a future session.

Materials: How To: Manage Problem Behaviors: Check-In/Check-Out


Trauma Informed Classroom


Santa Cruz County Office of Education just sent this to me and I think it is a very good resource for receiving and supporting kids that have experienced trauma.

Trauma-Informed Classrooms:  What Can Teachers Do?

 Here are some classic symptoms of exposure to trauma, and it is safe to assume if a student is in foster care trauma occurred.

Impulsivity—–Memory and focus issues—–Hypersensitivity to stimulation—–Emotional reactivity

 Along with referring children to the appropriate school and community resources, such as counseling, social services, etc., there are many things teachers can do to assist these students in the classroom, such as:

  • Learn about the effects of trauma so that you can spot trauma symptoms when you see them. Understand that a trauma trigger—something that reminds the child of a traumatic event—may send that child into a fight, flight, or freeze response (aggression, running away, or withdrawing). When a child seems to be having a difficult time, ask, “What’s happening for this child? ” rather than “What is wrong with this child?”  This simple mental switch may help you realize that the child has been triggered into a fear response.
  • Make a meaningful connection with the child. Children heal in the presence of relationship. An important part of working with students with trauma history is just showing up and being there no matter what.
  • Focus on children’s positive behaviors and efforts, and offer specific praise whenever you can. Connect before you redirect. What you focus on, you will get more of. 
  • Provide structure and predictability – As much as possible, maintain a predictable routine and schedule. Write the day’s agenda on the board and structure transition times. Give a heads-up before loud noises like a fire drill or lights going out for a video.
  • Understand that children who have experienced trauma may be younger developmentally than they are chronologically. (While you wouldn’t be surprised by a tantrum from a 3-year old, you might be surprised by that same behavior in an eight year-old. But developmentally, this eight year-old might be more like three.)  It may help to think younger.
  • Find out what the child needs to feel safe, both physically and emotionally. This might be:
    • A special place they can go when they’re feeling overwhelmed (for example, a peace corner in the classroom)
    • A signal you develop with the child to let you know when they’re feeling overwhelmed
    • A technique that you teach them for self-calming
  • Create opportunities for children to make choices. This helps them develop a sense of control and overcome the chronic feelings of powerlessness that can result from experiencing trauma and violence.
  • Model, teach, and practice self-regulation with children. Breathing techniques, stretching or other moving exercises, and sensory calming tools (such as silly putty, stress balls, chew tips for pencils) can help children learn to calm themselves.
  • Help children cultivate their strengths and interests in both academic and nonacademic arenas (such as martial arts, drama, athletics, music) to help them cultivate a sense of self-confidence and mastery.
  • Respect the child’s confidentiality. Share information about the child’s status only with appropriate people and only when necessary. And always remember your role as a mandated reporter. 

 References and Resources:

  • Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, INBRIEF: The Science of Early Childhood Development.
  • Child Safety Commissioner, State of Victoria, 2007. Calmer classrooms: A guide to working with traumatised children.
  • Massachusetts Advocates for Children (2005) Helping Traumatized Children Learn.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Trauma Facts for Educators, 2008.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Psychological and Behavioral Impact of Trauma: Elementary School Students, 2008. (Also preschool, middle school, high school versions).
  • National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2005). Persistent Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Young Children’s Learning and Development: Working Paper #9.
  • Working with children who have experienced trauma can be difficult. It may bring up frustrations, grief and loss issues, fears, and other strong emotions, or it may trigger a teacher’s own trauma issues. Getting help and support around the challenges of working in the classroom is important for anyone who works with children who have experienced trauma.
  • Lastly, Trauma can be defined as both “Capital T Trauma” and” lower case t trauma” (complex and/or developmental trauma). Big T Trauma usually means large, and sometimes, singular life threatening events or witnessing extreme circumstances; Often the type of event associated with traditional PTSD. Small t trauma can be an accumulation of experience over long periods of time in distressful or neglectful contexts or family systems (read poverty, lack of an adequate care-giver, emotionally abusive environment, etc.).  Either type of childhood experiences can lead to the same symptoms and need for increased sensitivity and safety.

Brought to you by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and the Foster Youth Services Program in Collaboration with Partners from The Foster Youth Services Local Advisory Board – Particularly Santa Cruz County Children’s Mental Health and Cabrillo College’s Foster and Kinship Care Education Program. 

Some videos on Trauma Informed Practices in Schools
• Children, Violence and Trauma—Interventions in Schools

• Modules on creating trauma informed care in schools, Madison Metropolitan School
District. There are 10 modules, here are a few of them:


Trauma Informed Materials

Family Routine Guide for 2-5 year olds

I was just talking to a parent about establishing routines in the evening hours with her toddler and remembered the “Family Routine Guide”. It is a wonderfully pragmatic tool to look up great interventions for common issues that come up for families with toddlers.

This Family Routine Guide was developed by Rochelle Lentini and Lise Fox to assist parents and caregivers in developing a plan to support young children who are using challenging behavior. Children engage in challenging behavior for a variety of reasons, but all children use challenging behavior to communicate messages. Challenging behavior, typically, communicates a need to escape or avoid a person/activity or communicates a desire to obtain someone/something. Once parents understand the purpose or meaning of the behavior, they can begin to select strategies to change the behavior. They can do this by selecting prevention strategies, teaching new skills, and changing the way they respond in an effort to eliminate or minimize the challenging behavior.

Family Routine Guide English

Guía de rutinas familiares (Spanish version)

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infection (PANDAS) and Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS)

Recently, learned about PANS / PANDAS at one of my schools and wanted to pass on the information that I learned about it in supporting students with the Disorder.

A diagnosis of PANDAS or PANS means a child has a sudden, dramatic change in personality displayed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) together with accompanying symptoms following a strep, bacterial, or viral infection. The OCD can display as intense fear or anxiety. Accompanying symptoms may include tics, anxiety, depression, behavioral regression, deterioration in school performance, sensory sensitivities, severely restricted food intake, and more;

Families Experience link: here

Teacher link: here

School Psychologist link: here

Occupational Therapist link: here

School Considerations link: here

PANS/ PANDAS PowerPoint: here


PANDAS Network

Information for parents, educators, and the medical community including: diagnosis, testing, treatment, current research, providers, education tools, legislative updates and more.

PANDAS Physicians Network

PPN is dedicated to helping medical professionals better understand PANDAS and PANS through real-time information and networking. Specialists from the top academic medical institutions in the United States who have worked with, treated, or studied the patients or aspects of the disorder, have agreed to serve on PPN committees or as special advisors. Because PANDAS & PANS are interdisciplinary disorders, all the relevant disciplines are represented on the PPN committees and the special advisory council.

Stanford University’s PANS clinic

Super Duper Handouts 

Super Duper® Handy Handouts® a are FREE online, informational newsletters for teachers and parents. I love these handouts for a variety of reasons. Mostly because they are short, accurate, and cover a multitude of topics. I typically will use them to help build better understanding of what a student might need to parents and teachers.

They also have these other resources that are special education and Speech Therapist centric resources.

Age Calculator



Handy Handouts

Response Analyzer

SLP Case History Form

Link: Other free resources 

Super Duper also sells really good materials to support teaching discrete skills sets primarily around Speech and Language impairments. I find the pragmatic (social skills) materials to be especially helpful in working with students individually and in groups.

Super Duper site