Across the nation, teachers and school administrators are preparing for the new school year. They’re readying their classrooms, libraries and hallways to welcome this year’s students. Meanwhile, students and their families are also preparing to go back to school. They’re going shopping for school supplies and picking out the outfit for the first day back. A new school year can bring forth feelings of excitement, but for some students it also can heighten their anxiety and bring forth behavioral challenges.

If you talk with any teacher or school administrator, chances are they’ve had a student who struggled with behavior challenges at school and/or home. It’s even possible that they weren’t sure what to do or how to help the child. That’s where the BIST (Behavior Intervention Support Team) model comes in.

The BIST model, which was developed in 1990 by Cornerstones of Care, is an outreach program that provides training and support to teachers, parents and school administrators throughout the Midwest.

Cornerstones of Care believe that educators need the right intervention strategies when dealing with the challenges of today’s students. The goal of the BIST model is to provide a safe and productive learning environment for everyone. It focuses on:

  • Early intervention – setting behavior expectations for everyone;
  • Caring confrontation – establishing a language of partnership when intervening with disruptive or hurtful behavior;
  • Protective plan – developing a plan created by the student and adult to identify the missing skill and plan replacement skills to work toward a future goal;
  • And outlasting the acting out, which allows the student and adult to problem solve any mistakes in order to prevent them from happening again.

For Mrs. Kahl, a middle school teacher in Springfield, Illinois, the BIST model made a significant impact in one of her student’s life this past year. “Using BIST has changed how I interact with my students…It has reminded me to not get into a power struggle with kids. It’s really a behavioral shift,” says Kahl. This past year, Mrs. Kahl had Regina, a 7th grader placed into her classroom for additional support. Mrs. Kahl uses the BIST model as the foundation to create a structured and caring environment to meet her students where they are. A few weeks into being in Mrs. Kahl’s classroom, Regina even said, “Mrs. Kahl, I’ve never seen a teacher like you.”

You can read Regina* and Mrs. Kahl’s full story here.**

*Names have been changed to protect their identity.

**Please note that this story might trigger those who have trauma from sexual assault.