Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Research-Based Best Practice. HUH?

Yes, most of us know that the law requires us to use research-based best practice while teaching everything from calculus to social skills.

Yes, most of us would love to know what those most current research-based best practices are.

Yes, most of us would also like to say that just because something is research-based, does not mean it is necessarily useful in our specific situations or that the data wasn't skewed so the researcher could publish or prove his/her assumption true.

Yes, most of us would also like to be acknowledged for all the great methodologies and strategies we use daily that are based in us just being good teachers.

I am not saying research isn't a great thing.  It is.  Without it we would not be where we are in so many areas. But what I am saying is that some long ago research-based practices are outdated and no longer work.  And that some of those practices were never really all that anyway.

One such strategy is using only ABA methods with AUT kids.  Even though it is really the only well researched, much published and practiced method for working with AUT kids, it is NOT, by any means, THE BESTEST and ONLY way to work with AUT kids. In fact, there are some great newer methods that work really well, even better for some AUT kids.  Greenspan's Floor Time, Autism Treatment Center's Son Rise Program, just having a relationship with the kids, meeting the kids where they are...

Or the emphasis on behavior modification, level systems and token economies.  Do they work?  Yes, absolutely in certain situations, with certain kids, and with very specific goals in mind.  Do they work with all kids, in all situations, for the long term, or with certain mental health issues?  Absolutely NOT. In fact, if used inappropriately, they cause harm, they alienate, they don't extinguish target behaviors.  There are other great tools like cognitive behavioral therapy, using a psycho educational approach, feedback, Richard Lavoie's methods for helping kids socially, just having a relationship with the kids, meeting the kids where they are......

It is just hard to measure these alternative methods using traditional research protocol.  But does that mean they aren't effective?  Does that mean we should not use them?

Let's keep our wits about us, not throw common sense to the wind.

What I propose is that we stop staying in our academic heads only and do what all great teachers have been doing since the beginning of time.  Be smart about how we teach, know our kids, and love them, work our asses off, and never stop looking for and trying any solution that looks like it just  might work.... researched or not.


  1. Behavior mod never worked for my Amigo (Asperger's) at home or at school. Getting a BIP in place took our initiative and (gulp) threats. There is no one silver bullet in any area: reading, math, behavior.

  2. Wise Miss Daisy,
    You and I need to start our own school! PRONTO!
    I am buying a lottery ticket this weekend.

  3. Do you suppose our little burgh would let us open a charter? Nah, i didn't think so.

  4. Unfortunately, Miss Daisy, you and I have reputations that are not favorable by the suits in our district.
    So be it. I don't think we are done with them yet though, are we???? (insert evil laugh here)


Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.