Reflective CICO

Title text: Reflective Check-in/Check-out. Track what matters. Forget the rest. Brown type on beige background.

By Dr. Timothy (Tim) Grivois

Suppose a youth needing support for unexpected behaviors could receive frequent brief doses of positive, values-centered feedback that pre-teaches expectations at regularly scheduled intervals. What would we expect to happen?

The obvious outcome would be a dramatic reduction in unexpected behavior. The goal of Check-in/Check-out (CICO), a standard behavior intervention in Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, has always been to provide students with adult connection and support. 

Curiously, the data that schools usually track is typically student-facing. While trainers frequently emphasize that “the intervention is the conversation, not the form,” in practice, the form tends to dominate. The student carries a point card with them throughout the day (or, more often, loses it), and teachers rate their behavior against how well they conform to school values. 

PBIS must better align CICO systems, data, and practices, and Reflective CICO is the best way to do this. Instead of tracking student behavior (which we do anyway with office referrals), we need to track that critical elements of CICO conversations occur as scheduled and as trained. For CICO to work, teacher feedback must be:

  • Values-centered
  • Positive
  • Relevant to the next setting area, and
  • Brief

Values-centered feedback connects to established school norms. For instance, if “trustworthy” is a school norm, a teacher might say, “You were trustworthy when you asked permission to go to the nurse, and you came back as soon as you were done.” For more examples of values-centered feedback, click here.

Positive means that we refrain from describing what not to do. Instead, we explain how a student might honor school values more fully. Such feedback often sounds like this: “It was tricky for me to help your group when you were interrupting your peers. It’s helpful when you show them respect by letting them finish before asking your question.” We can give positive feedback, even when students need to grow. This happens when we go beyond explaining the problem by providing ideas for a solution.

Feedback for students should be as relevant to where they are going as to where they have been. Cueing students to values essential to the next part of the day helps students move beyond any issues of the last hour towards success in the next. Sometimes, I’ll hear teachers say, “You’re about to go to Social Studies, and being responsible by following directions is very important to Mr. Brigham. Keep your eyes on him, and I know you’ll have a great class!”

Finally, CICO sings when interactions are brief. The longer we talk, the more cumbersome CICO becomes, especially when we have such short transitions between subjects and periods. Aim for 30 seconds or less, which seems to be 2-3 sentences.

You can download a Reflective CICO point card below and start as soon as you’re ready. This card is CICO-SWIS compatible (talk to your facilitator about how to do this). By keeping the data teacher-facing, we eliminate several common problems with traditional CICO data. No more lost forms, students refusing to take them, or conversations that focus more on points than on the good we want to see in our students.

If you have questions about implementing this more manageable, more effective version of CICO, email me and let’s talk! 

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