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SEL Series – The Golden Nugget

The Secret to  PD- Finding the Golden Nugget during Professional Development Workshop

I’ve come to realize that every professional development workshop I attend will not always end in fireworks, rather, many workshops have developed a standard practice when approaching personal development.  As I listen to a presenter, I say to myself “find the golden nugget.” My goal is to take something away from the session- I listen intently and I have been able to find one each time I attend a workshop.

In this post, I will share, “the golden nugget” strategy to help you focus on the takeaways that are important when attending workshops. As an example, I will share the ” Golden Nugget” I obtained when Principal Debi Boccanfuso visited our program and held a workshop on behavior management.

Professional Development workshops are each unique in their own way, similar to a first date. At first, you are trying to acquaint yourself with the new person in front of you.  I remember during the session, while I was physically present, I got a bit taken away by watching the speaker talk rather than focusing on the message. I can recall the moment when Principal Debi Boccanfuso caught my “Attention” and suddenly, I was all ears. 

She said there are four reasons why a child is distinctly displaying a behavior.

 I thought “tell me more”.

 I was curious to learn about the more challenging behaviors my students displayed in my class or at the center.  She explained to us that there are four main functions to maintain behavior: “sensory stimulation”, “escape”, “access to attention”, and “access to tangibles”.

1. Sensory Stimulation: “A person’s own movements/actions feel good to that individual. For example, a child twirls his or her seat as they sit for an extended amount of time. If moving in the seat gives that individual the sensory input they are seeking, and then moving in his or her seat will continue.”

2. Escape: “Something is (or signals) to be an embarrassing situation, and the person wants to get away from it. For example, a teacher says, ‘Now it’s time for independent reading,’ yet the child feels uneasy when having to read alone and the learner runs out of the room.”

3. Access to Attention: “Someone desires access to social interaction(s). For example, the child ‘will not stop talking’! If screaming gets access to attention, then talking will continue.”

4. Access to Tangibles: “Someone wants access to a specific item or activity. For example, Michelle takes the tablet away from Shane, so Shane pinches her. If pinching gets access to the tablet, then pinching will continue.”

I knew what she was teaching us was incredibly valuable. If I could identify the function of behavior, it will help me to prevent problematic behavior. Also, I would be able to teach our kids better ways to have their needs met and ensure consistency at our learning center.

The “Golden Nugget” I found during this workshop is:

Understanding the purpose of the behavior is to help educators adjust our responses so that we can decrease the problematic behaviors and increase appropriate or desired actions. Ultimately, Personal development workshops are opportunities to learn and be opened mined. You may not be directly interested in the material but by finding the “Golden Nugget” , you can be inspired to put new concepts you’ve learned into action!


Tiana Brown is the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority Learning Centers


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Henry Brown

    Good insight! Thanks for sharing.

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