This year, my school is part of a pilot program with our multi-tiered systems of supports for behavior. This meant I was able to attend some additional behavior-focused trainings, including one focused specifically on Check In/Check Out (CICO). For years, I’ve used some sort of daily behavior point sheet with some of my students struggling with behavior. I had a bit of success so I thought I had it down pat, but turns out there was a lot more to it than I knew! I’ve learned a lot over the last several months about this awesome EVIDENCE-BASED intervention and want to share a bit about it.
What is Check In Check Out?
CICO is an evidence-based tier two behavior intervention. It combines adult attention, frequent feedback, self-monitoring, and rewards.
Who is CICO for?
Students with moderate behavior needs that are motivated by adult attention. This second part is important – and is where I made a mistake this year. Just because a student has an office referral, scored “moderate risk” on a behavioral universal screener, and is known for being a kiddo that needs some behavior support doesn’t mean CICO is the best fit for them. Of all the parts of CICO, the adult mentoring pieces is most key. If a student is not pretty motivated by adult attention, they will be better off with a different intervention.
How intensive of an intervention is it?
In successful cases, you’re looking at two to three months duration from start to finish. It requires classroom teachers to provide brief frequent feedback throughout the day and mentors to be available a few minutes in the morning and a few more in the afternoon. In theory, because it’s a tier two level intervention, it isn’t considered intensive. In practice, when done correctly, it does require a bit of (wo)man power.
What does Check In Check Out look like?
Each student on CICO has a “daily report card” (I call it a daily point sheet) that’s aligned to the school’s core expectations and the student’s daily schedule. For each block of time and each expectation, they can earn up to two points (two points for exhibiting the behavior, one point for requiring reminders, and zero points for not exhibiting the behavior). Each morning, the students checks in with their mentor teacher. The mentor gets a sense of how the student is feeling, they create a goal for how many points the student is aiming to earn that day, and the student picks a reward they want to earn for meeting their goal. Throughout the day, the student’s teachers provide feedback by circling the number of points earned in each block (and making brief, positive focused comments to them as needed). At the end of the day, the student checks out with their mentor. They tally the points, talk briefly about the behavioral strengths and struggles of the day, and if applicable, the student receives their reward.
How did I set it up?
I formally kicked off the program by presenting to our whole faculty about CICO, including both classroom teacher duties and mentor duties. Then I asked for faculty members that were willing to volunteer as mentors. I already had a list of students that I thought would be good fits for the program using data from the SRSS-IE screener (I’ll blog about that another day!) as well as my own observations. If I was doing this all super formally, we would have written specific qualifying criteria for entry into CICO, including attendance data, office referrals, etc. – but for several reasons, that wasn’t going to happen for us. Then I “matched” mentees and mentors. In some cases, I gave the mentors names and asked if they already felt they had relationships with any of the students. Sometimes I thought about personalities and tried to be a matchmaker. And sometimes it was random. If we weren’t a brand new school with a brand new faculty, I would have asked the students their opinion as well, but they don’t know many teachers outside their own. Then I emailed teachers and mentors about matches and gave them both materials. For teachers, I gave them a letter for them to leave behind when they have subs. For mentors, I gave them the student’s CICO folder (with point sheets, reward options, and data tracking sheets), a parent letter, and a ‘script/guide’ to help them the first couple weeks.
What kind of rewards?
This totally depends on your school and your mentors. Our lists include things like: coloring time, computer time, change your name the next day, stickers, trip to the library, etc. It is advised that all students within a grade level have the same reward options (it won’t go over well if Ms. James is buying people McDonalds but Ms. Mancini just has plain pencils).
How does data play into this?
One of the awesome things about this intervention is that progress monitoring is built right into the system! You have data about each student’s behavior daily. In an ideal and beautiful world, mentors would enter the number of points a student received and the percentage of points possible earned into an electronic database (Google Drive, OneDrive, good ole Excel, etc.). In many of our worlds, that feels like a big ask, like just one more thing to ask of mentors. What I do is include a weekly tracking sheet in each student’s folder and ask mentors to write the info on them and then turn that into me each week. I want to tell you that I then enter those data points into the fancy excel spreadsheets my cluster’s behavior analyst gave me. But I don’t. I just look at them, contact mentors and teachers if changes are needed, and hold onto them in case we move forward with a child study meeting for a kiddo.
Things I wish I had done differently/what I need to work on:
- I should have ensured buy in from classroom teachers more. I did a whole faculty training about Check In Check Out, and sent an email to classroom teachers each time I ‘matched’ one of their students. After this early mistake, I started emailing them (about future matches) asking if they think their student would be a good fit and reminding them of their role. To gain their investment (and follow through), I need this to be a decision they have more input in. It’s a tough balance between trying to do everything/not send too many emails/not bug teachers and making sure I’m communicating enough.
- I wish I had talked with all of the students myself first. Explain why they get to participate, begin generating some investment, let them know that it’s not forever, etc. There’s never enough minutes in the day and so I skipped this but I regret not making it happen with my first kiddos on the program.
- I forgot to make time to keep up with it all. In some ways CICO seems like an easy method for multiple students to receive behavior support at once without the counselor having to service all of them. In other ways, like any other program, it comes like a bit of maintenance and upkeep. The hope is that schools have behavior teams that meet regularly to analyze data, problem solve, make changes, etc. It’s not always like that though and it’s certainly not for me, I’m flying solo on this for my caseload. I had to start scheduling a designated chunk of time (30 minutes) each week to do this.