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September 2017 - vol. 32 no. 3

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It is an absolute honor to serve as the President of the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD) for the upcoming year. It is humbling to be truly following in the footsteps of giants in our field, from Kathleen Lane and Wendy Oakes recently, to Steven Forness, C. Michael Nelson, and Frank Wood that served in this role years ago.

As we all know, children and youth with or at-risk for emotional and/or behavioral disorders (EBD) continue to be among the most challenging populations of children to serve. Research continues to confirm the poor short and long term outcomes for children with EBD, including increased risks for dropout and arrest in early adulthood. Yet, WE all know at least one child, one student, one client that has improved, one child that has responded to intervention, one child that succeeded in school and beyond. For me, that one child represents my enduring commitment to serving children with EBD because I am that child. Growing up, I experienced many of the predictors of EBD, including high poverty, limited adult supervision, and a desire to escape. What drives my research and my enduing commitment to students with EBD is the need to know why I did not end up like so many others, why I responded.  Further, I am an educator of children with some of the most profound behavioral challenges, yet I’ve never lost hope because of something a mentor once told me: “If you can help one child, just one, escape poverty, escape crime, achieve a better life, then your entire career was worth it”. I believe in the power of one and that we, the collective CCBD membership, can truly have a positive, enduring, and meaningful impact on the students we serve.

 As a longtime member and current president, I believe we need to improve our brand and focus on efforts to improve branding across relevant stakeholders.  CCBD constituents represent a broad coalition of professionals, including school- and clinic-based specialists. However, decreasing CCBD membership suggests that we are not reaching our intended constituents and/or not providing meaningful service to them. Therefore, efforts will be made to: (a) identify why CCBD is not appealing to a broader constituency: (b) improve our brand, including print advertisement, web-based presence, social network presence, and grassroots movements; and (c) develop and enhance existing relationships with all of our regional groups and similar non-profit advocacy groups. Further, I believe that CCBD needs to identify the core strategic priorities of the organization and focus efforts on those priorities to improve productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. Non-profit organizations are mission driven and CCBD is no exception. Our mission, However, an efficient and effective organization has a few core priorities and focuses attention and energy on those priorities. Therefore, my hope is to focus efforts to (a) outline the fundamental priorities of the organization; (b) examine what activities are currently being enacted for those priorities; and (c) develop a long-term plan for how CCBD can be seen as THE service organization to assist constituents with those priorities.

There is much work to be done, but I believe we have the collective motivation to meet our goals and advance our mission. Together, we can continue and advance the work of our predecessors and ensure CCBD long-term success.

Nicholas A. Gage, Ph.D.

President, CCBD

Dear Miss Kitty,

I have a 7th grader in my math class and he refuses to do any independent work.  This class has 40 students in it so it is hard for me to give individual attention to Troy. When I lecture, he doesn’t pay attention and makes jokes throughout the lesson. I have gotten use to that but when I give an assignment and each student is expected to work on it, he puts his head down on his desk and refuses to do anything. He does receive special education resource services but not for math. What should I do?


Frustrated and ready to quit.


Dear Frustrated and ready to quit:

I am sure it is tough to provide individual attention with so many students. Have you had a chance to talk with the special education teacher?  I would suggest you do that as soon as possible so you can work together with that individual. The resource teacher may be able to provide you with an overview of the student’s needs and his strengths and weaknesses.  Ask specifically for that information and for any information about accommodations.  You can also see the IEP (Individualized Education Program) for the student and should review that. This will give you some insight into the challenges the student faces.

Here are some other observations you may want to make about Troy:

 How long can Troy pay attention during your lecture?

What do you do when he jokes with other students during your lecture?  You may want to utilize supportive proximity control where you move close to his area to see how you can assist him during the lecture.

Have you considered using response cards during your lecture? In response cards, you ask a question and have all students write the answer down and when you signal, they hold up their answer.  This may help Troy to become more engaged in the lesson.

When Troy puts his head down on the desk, do you move over to him and ask how you can assist him.  It is common when students put their heads down on desks for us to go over and coax the student to sit up.  The more you request that, the more the student digs his heels in and won’t do the assignment.  Troy may not be able to do the assignment and he has to save face in front of his peers.  He doesn’t want anyone to know he can’t do the work.  Therefore it is important not to embarrass him.  If you move over to him, you can offer assistance privately.

You may want to consider meeting with him before or after class to see whether there is any reason(s), he doesn’t want to complete the assignments.  You may learn that he believes the assignments are too difficult and if that is the case, ask how you can assist him. 
Building a trusting and positive relationship with Troy is critical and when he learns that you are there to help him and will not embarrass him in front of his peers, he will become more comfortable with you.

 Best of luck!

--Miss Kitty

**Do you have a question you’d like to ask Miss Kitty??  A classroom situation you’d like a little advice about?

Email her your questions at!  **

News from RSM: Regional Services and Membership

RSM Chair, Lonna Moline 

It’s Fall...time to get back to school! Hopefully our summers have been filled with a variety of fun experiences. I never seem to get as much done as I set out to do. However, I am blessed to have the opportunity to at least try! It is always so wonderful to get new learning experiences in and recharge my motivation. I LOVE being a teacher. I LOVE having the summer to regroup and revive. I am always ready for fall because I have new ideas and new energy. What a great profession!

How about you? Do you remember why you become a teacher?

Here are some of the reasons that have been identified:

  • Making a difference brings joy
  • Highly interactive and interpersonal
  • Always a variety of things to do
  • You get to be a life long learner
  • Daily laughs
  • It’s a vocation, not just a job

Let me know your teaching stories. I’d love to hear from you! After all, aren’t connections an important part of our field?

Please contact me (

Enjoy the start to a new school year!


Following are the reports from around the regions. Remember your Regional Coordinator is one of your direct connections to CCBD. Contact them with your ideas or questions. They are there to help! They put in the time and effort to be there to support you. YOU, our members, are our valuable resource.

Region 1- Phyllis Vermilyea        

 Region 2-Calli Lewis Chiu 


Daniel Gulchak (President)

Arizona is gearing up for the TECBD conference taking place October 26-28. For more information go to


Peter Alter (President)

For information about getting involved with CA CCBD, please contact Peter Alter.


Neeley Kay (president)

For information about getting involved with UT CCBD, please contact Neeley Kay.


Hawaii does not currently have an active state chapter. If you are interested in activating a state chapter, please contact Calli Lewis Chiu at


We are in the process of reestablishing the board in Nevada. If you are interested in joining the effort, please contact Calli Lewis Chiu at

Region 3- Soo Ahn                 

Soo Ahn (formerly Region 7) has taken a position at Iowa State University. We quickly reassigned her to her new region! We are so fortunate to have her stay on as RC and continue her work.

Thank you Chad Rose for the work you did in Region 3.

Region 4- Glenna Billingsley

Region 5- Bev Johns

What's Happening in the Midwest!!!!

Many activities were happening in our Region 5 this summer.  Four of our subdivisions had conferences over the last two months and I must say all were very successful and provided great opportunities for gaining a better understanding of our students, learning new strategies, and networking.  Teamwork would best describe the efforts of all of these subdivisions. The beauty of CCBD in our region is that everyone works together and the success of all these conferences because of teamwork was apparent.

Kentucky CCBD started the conferences with the Behavior Institute held in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, at the Galt House.  Over 1200 individuals attended this dynamic conference June 12-13, 2017. Looking for an inspiring and relevant speaker on the topic of trauma. Lynnie Vessels spoke on: Building Resilience:  From Tears to Fears.  She herself is a trauma survivor and classroom teacher.   Two full days of dynamic speakers shared their expertise.  From ADHD to mental health to function-based support planning, the sessions were well presented and most had packed houses.    Alan Siegel who has been the treasurer of Kentucky CCBD for many years was recognized for his years of service as he retires from the position.

On June 15 and 16, Ohio held its Summer Behavior Institute at the University of Toledo.  Sessions focused on the topics of autism, special education law, creating successful teacher/paraeducator partnerships, social emotional learning, using sensory tools in the classroom, working with students who engage in escape and avoidance behaviors, school climate and discipline, and sixty 60 second behavior interventions.  This conference allows all participants to hear all sessions and was very well received this year again.

On July 28, Illinois CCBD held their summer institute in Springfield.  Sessions focused on Punishment: The Skeleton in the Closet, School-based interventions to Address the Mental Health Needs of Children and Youth, CHAMPS, and Effective Writing Strategies for Reluctant Writers.  The summer institute provided the opportunity for individuals who live in the central and southern Illinois to have a conference closer to home. 

On August 4, Wisconsin CCBD co-hosted a mental health conference with the direction of Shannon Stuart.

Congratulations to Indiana CCBD who is working diligently on their strategic plan and was the first subdivision to complete their annual report. 

If you belong to any of our subdivisions in this region and are not involved yet, join with us as we strengthen the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders.

 Region 6 - Sonya Harris         

Region 7 - Anne Cramer        

Welcome to Anne! She has taken over as RC for Region 7. Anne is in Pennsylvania.

Region 8 - Clinton Smith        

Calling all CCBD members in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina!! We want to hear from you. We would like to see more activity and connections in your region. Please contact Clinton or Lonna. An email only takes a minute... We’d love to hear from you.  

Canada - Kimberly Maich      

Peter Hamilton

Not much has happened over the summer in Canada.   The CQJDC conference has received a solid response from its call for papers, thanks in part to the positioning of it on the CCBD website.   There are submissions from 5 continents, and the line-up is looking very strong.   Peter will be contacting all the Canadian members once more in September to check in and see what they are planning for the new school year. 

The Janus Project: Conversations with Leaders in the Field

A Conversation with Wendy Oakes

For more than a decade the Janus Project has collected and disseminated the reflections of leaders in education of children with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) regarding the past, present, and future of the profession. The Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders (MSLBD) has provided ongoing support for this oral history project. Each of the participants is asked questions about the people and events that have influenced their career, the current state and future of the field, and their advice to those entering the field. Nearly 70 conversations have been collected in video form at the following URL:…

Dr. Wendy Oakes is an Assistant Professor in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizonia State University. Her research focus is on school-wide systems for supporting students with and at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders, specifically, comprehensive, integrated three-tiered (Ci3T) models of prevention; implementation of evidence-based academic and behavioral interventions; and professional development to implement practices with fidelity. Dr. Oakes is an Associate Editor for Remedial and Special Education and the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. She is Past President of Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders. What follows are excerpts from a Janus Project conversation with Dr. Oakes at the CCBD convention in Atlanta, GA in 2015.


           JANUS: Tell us how you got into the field of working with children with EBD.

Oakes: I had a very specific event in my life. It wasn’t an accumulation of things. It happened pretty early and has never changed for me. Anytime anyone asks, this is the story that's near and dear to my heart. When I was in middle school, I lived in southern Maryland. It was a long time ago - probably mid-70s. I was in 8th grade and I was in an honors level classes. I had some time and so was an office aide running errands and delivering things. I was given a note to take to a teacher. I don't remember if I knew who the teacher was, but I definitely did not know where the classroom was, because there was a hallway with a door that went downstairs. I had been there for three years, but I never knew this existed. I never knew there was a downstairs.

When I got down those fairly dark stairs, there was one classroom at the bottom with basement windows that were barred, and there was a plywood box with an arm on the outside and a light bulb on the inside. It was essentially a time out box.  There were kids and a teacher in that classroom. I gave them the note, looked around and thought, "Wow, this is not okay. This is awful. There are students down here that I've never met or interacted with. Why are they in the basement and what is this box doing here?”

I remember from that moment on thinking that this was not okay in my world and this could be better. From then on, I started volunteering at events for kids with special needs. I would take classes and try to locate a partner who I felt might be marginalized or left out. You know, when you have to pick a partner and there's always one person that's left out, I’d think, that's my person. I went to the University of Maryland, started as a Special Education major, and have never wanted to do anything else.

JANUS: How would you describe your career in this field?

Oakes: I have been very lucky. I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people even when I was just starting at Maryland. I felt very well prepared when I entered the field.

Then I had some amazing mentors in the field who allowed me some flexibility to try new things and be innovative in my teaching. So, I have taught in self-contained classes for students with serious emotional disturbance in Florida. It was a portable classroom that was an “outside the fence” kind of place. Then went to elementary school and learned the whole new language that elementary teachers speak. That was a wonderful experience. I've worked in small schools in the mountains, I've worked in city schools. I've been very lucky to work with a lot of wonderful families, children, and teachers. 

JANUS: What policies, people and events have had the biggest influence on your career?

Oakes:  One of the biggest things that happened during my career was the shift towards inclusion. I worked in a very small country school, Pre-K to 5, where I was the only special education teacher. I had the most amazing principal and told him, "When you become superintendent, I want to come back and work for you." He became a superintendent but I was in Arizona, so that didn't work out.

It was the idea of inclusion to make sure that our students in special education were getting the best general education experience that they could in addition to the special education supports that they needed. They needed specialized instructions, specifically in reading, certainly. They needed behavioral supports, but we were still at a time when we were pulling kids out of general education to provide special education as a replacement. That was the first time that I personally got to experience the additive benefit of what happens if I team teach in the classroom, provide the best co-teaching, comprehensive general education experience, and layer that on the additional supports or instruction they need to best access the general ed curriculum. I think that sets inclusion away from mainstreaming to all kids included. I think that's been the biggest policy shift that's influenced my career.

As for influential people, kind of going back to that principal, there's not one specific influence. I think it was leadership empowering us as professionals and providing us with resources to be successful. I think that was our gift.

JANUS:  What do you think has had the most positive impact on the field?

Oakes: I think that goes back to the people in our field. There’s a collective community of people coming together around a common issue. You know, we think about the number of kids in individual schools who are identified with EBD who don’t not have them, and it's pretty small. I think it's really important to have ways of coming together. At least in higher education, I've found people who are highly committed to children and youth with behavioral disorders, which I think is the most powerful thing in the field.

 I think that we're starting to be more aware of the interdisciplinary nature of what we do. We always have been to a certain degree, but we’re now talking about bringing mental health into our school systems, all of the different systems and getting them to coordinate their efforts. That happens through the expertise of people, the willingness to serve, the willingness to collaborate, the willingness to come together and make the field better for children. To me, that kind of human resource has the greatest positive impact.

JANUS:  What do you see in the future for the education of children with EBD?

Oakes: That's a really hard question. Something that I hope for is a policy shift, a national policy shift, toward prioritizing social-emotional development and behavioral practices. I think that’s exciting, and I’m hoping that those conversations get to the state and district level.

Related to that, there’s more understanding of the need for integration, social-emotional learning, behavioral expectations, and behavioral frameworks to access academic instruction - to provide opportunities for our kids to access academic instruction through school-wide, system-wide kinds of behavioral structures with support and understanding across all staff. 

JANUS:          What advice do you have for teachers coming into the field?

Oakes: I work with new teachers coming into the field. Whether they want it or not, I do give them advice. I tell them to start prioritizing, to first think about whether their classroom is a positive, safe learning environment and build from there. That means engaging families in a positive way and having a reciprocal relationship with parents where you provide ideas and supports from your expertise, but also acknowledge and value the wealth they bring. You leverage that to support students and engage them in learning. You look at what's happening in the community, what's happening in the family, what strengths they bring to support their child in their education. Then you work together in a reciprocal way.

My second advice is don't blame. It’s so counter-productive. Don't blame the kids for the way that they're behaving. We always start with behavior as communication and ask, what are they telling you? It's our job to figure that out.  Don't blame the kids, don't blame the families, don't blame the communities that they come from. Step past the blame and look for solutions you can offer.

My last advice is to look at every single child as a child of potential. It's hard to hear people talk about very young children as already over the line with behavior problems that we give up on when we don't feel adequately prepared to solve them. Reach out and find others who can. I encourage teachers to look at every child as having potential.


Wendy Oakes’s trip down that stairway many years ago to a room she didn’t know existed was fortuitous for the many students who have spend time in that room. Her talent and compassion for “those students” has helped improve their educational experience. The complete conversation with Wendy is available at:

            Upcoming issues of Behavior Today will include excerpts of Janus Project conversations with other leaders in the field.

Teaching Social Skills by Understanding Cause and Effect

by: Paula Chan

Many children who engage in challenging behavior struggle with social relationships (Gresham, Horner, & Sugai, 2001). Although many children are able to understand the impact of their actions, kids with challenging behavior often require more explicit instruction to understand these nuanced relationships. Parents can help improve social skills for children with challenging behavior by teaching to understand the cause and effect of their actions.

Understanding Cause and Effect

To teach children about cause and effect, parents should first teach that cause and effect describes a relationship between two events. The cause is the action or event. The effect is the response to the event or action. Understanding cause and effect can help students understand the impact of their actions. For example, if a child brags about going to an amusement park to their friends, their friend may become jealous and not want to spend time with them. In this example, the cause of the conflict is bragging about going to an amusement park. The effect occurs when the peer is jealous and begins avoiding their friend. Parents can teach their student about cause and effect by following a simple, four step process.

Step one: Explain cause and effect. Few children have been directly taught to understand the cause and effect of their actions. Parents can explain that their child’s actions can impact the ways teachers, peers, or siblings respond to them. Next, parents should provide examples of cause and effect in relationships, using common examples that their child will understand. For example, a parent might say, “Your sister left her shoes in the hallway, and I tripped over her shoes. The cause was leaving shoes in the room, the effect was me tripping.” By explaining cause and effect in simple terms, children can begin to understand how actions are related to each other.

Step two: Discuss the child’s behavior. Once students understand the cause and effect relationship, parents can begin to explain how that impacts their social relationships. For example, if Kyle eats the last cookie, his brother Cameron may be upset and not want to play basketball with him anymore. If Kyle throws papers at his teacher, his teacher may not allow him to play outside at recess.

Step three: Point out examples. To continue teaching the idea of cause and effect, parents can point out examples in day-to-day life to help students understand how cause and effect can impact their relationships (Stokes & Baer, 1977). For example, a parent might say, “When I interrupted you when you were talking, it made you feel like I did not want to listen to you, which made you sad.” By providing on-going examples, children can gain a better understanding of how cause and effect impacts their social interactions.

Step four: Brainstorm solutions. When children begin to understand cause and effect of their actions, parents can help them brainstorm solutions to the problem. For example, if a child has difficulty sharing toys with friends, they may be taught to say, “I am going to play with this for five more minutes, then you can have a turn.” Alternately, if a child frequently interrupts adults, they can be taught to count to three after they think an adult is finished speaking before they speak, to ensure they are not interrupting. By teaching children to brainstorm solutions to the problem, they can begin to identify solutions to social conflict.



 Gresham, F. M., Sugai, G., & Horner, R. H. (2001). Interpreting outcomes of social skills training for students with high-incidence disabilities. Exceptional Children, 67, 331–344.

 Stokes, T. F., & Baer, D. M. (1977). An implicit technology of generalization. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 10, 349–367.

Register now for the TECBD conference!!:

This year our Saturday practitioner workshops, October 28th. $35 (or free with the price of conference registration) will address the following topics:

  • Endrew v. Douglas County School District (2017). Implications of the US Supreme Court's decision for special education administrators and teachers. (Mitchell Yell, Mike Couvillion, Mickey Losinski)
  • You Can't Make Me! Approaches and Techniques for Managing Resistence (John W. Maag)
  • PBIS Genius Bar - personalized interventions and answers! (Daniel Gulchak)
  • The Power of Technology to Support Student Engagement and Learning (Pena L. Bedesem, Tracy Anista). 

NEW: TECBD in partnership with CCBD 

Graduate Student & Junior Faculty Mentorship Strand

Thursday, October 26th

After Graduate School, Then What? Successful Applications and Campus Visit Strategies
After You Land The Job, Then What? Successful Strategies for New Faculty
Becoming A Productive Scholar: Defining One's Lines of Inquiry (Part 1)
Friday, October 27th

Becoming A Productive Scholar: Defining One's Lines of Inquiry (Part 2)
Reviewing Manuscripts for Professional Journals
Writing Manuscripts for Professional Journals 

Posted:  1 September, 2017

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