Just Add Flair: 6 Ways To Boost Your Professional Career As An Educator

There is untapped potential inside each and every one of us that we often pretend doesn’t exist!

6 ways to add flair to your professional career this summer:

Don’t Be Afraid Of NEW Challenges: It can feel daunting, risky, stressful and downright overwhelming, not to mention confusing, and it’s a perpetual cycle.  Right?  Guess what?  Everyone is feeling the same thing.  This is how professionals and successful companies continue to survive and grow.  At times, it may seem that new problems crop up as fast as you solve the old ones.  Yes, mentally exhausting but I am here to remind you that this just means you are moving in the right direction.  You are getting better and stronger. When an opportunity approaches you, seize it!

Read. That’s right! Yep, I said it. Read something new and informative.  Get back to your roots and read journal articles and informative posts from respectable sources. Pick up a book, or download something new for your favorite e-reader.  Dedicate an hour a day to reading something new and gain more knowledge in a different area other than your expertise.



The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – Ken Robinson

The Element is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels. With a wry sense of humor, Ken Robinson looks at the conditions that enable us to find ourselves in the Element and those that stifle that possibility. Drawing on the stories of a wide range of people, including Paul McCartney, Matt Groening, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, and Bart Conner, he shows that age and occupation are no barrier and that this is the essential strategy for transform­ing education, business, and communities in the twenty-first century.

Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage and Transform – Elise Ballard

Have you ever experienced an epiphany, a life-changing moment or realization? Elise Ballard has, and she was so stunned by its effect on her life that she started asking others if they had ever experienced these kinds of breakthroughs.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character – Paul Tough

How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories—and the stories of the children they are trying to help—Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives.

The Motivation Breakthrough: 6 Secrets to Turning On The Tuned-Out Child – Richard Lavoie

The Motivation Breakthrough explores proven techniques and strategies—based on six possible motivational styles—that will revolutionize the way teachers and parents inspire kids with learning disabilities to succeed and achieve. Backed by decades of experience in the classroom, educator and acclaimed author Rick Lavoie explodes common myths and gives specific advice for motivating children with learning disabilities.

The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning – Tom D. Whitby

This information-packed resource from digital experts Anderson and Whitby makes it easy to build a thriving professional network using social media. Easy-to-implement ideas, essential tools, and real-life vignettes help teachers learn to: Find and choose the best social media tools, products, and communities. Start and grow a collaborative, high-quality PLN using Twitter, blogging, LinkedIn, and more

Invest in your learning. There are so many free webinars, on practically anything you can dream or imagine.  Take a few hours each week to watch a webinar, instructional youtube video or participate in a live educational tweet.  Most are short, easy to understand, and don’t interfere with your fun in the sun or family time.  If you are a real go-getter, check online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, or Skillshare.

Get a mentor. Look around the district, county or state for someone highly respected to become a mentor.  Reach out and make connections via social media.  LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can be wonderful places to find like-minded professionals and leaders.  Remember to find communities within the community.

Surround yourself with a community of peers.  Make new friends, collaborate, and have fun reaching out to members of the education community.  I promise it will be both rewarding, inspirational and enlightening.  Attending a networking event, joining a board, or club that fancies your interests.

Add to your Intervention Toolbox.  Learn new behavioral intervention strategies to add to your growing toolbox.

behavioral interventions

UCLA Young Autism Project

One of the most intensive behavioral interventions studied, directed by Ivar Lovaas, included one-to-one therapy approximately 40 hours per week.  These children achieved an average of 22-31 points higher on standardized testing compared to the control group that did not receive 40 hours of behavioral intervention.  Professionals often support or disagree with the Lovaas UCLA Treatment Program.   Critics argue that Lovaas made many critical errors in his research regarding the effectiveness of the behavioral treatment.  Although, McEachin et al. (1993) report many strengths of the study which include the use of a treatment manual that allowed for consistent, standardized intervention techniques, well-developed control groups, assessments and diagnosis conducted by professionals, independent from the study, in order to control bias and long-term follow-ups.  Critics report weakness, such as the sample of individuals, diagnosed with Autism, used in the study were functioning at a higher level compared to other children with the same diagnosis.  At intake, the children were not given a specific regiment of assessment and testing, rather the type of assessment was left up to the psychometrist, in order to obtain current functioning levels.

Lovaas (1987) reported that the sample of individuals studied could be broken down into two groups which involved a group of nine children that made significant gains and could be characterized as a “typically developing child in many respects” while the other group of 10 children made little or no progress, according to standardized testing scores, and remained “substantially delayed”.

There is emerging information from other research and educational programs documenting substantial behavior change using similar (if not identical) behavioral practices. One important variable emerging from these programs is that younger children, (generally under the age of five) make substantially more progress than older children. This phenomenon has lead researchers to hypothesize that intensive early intervention may actually alter the neurological structure of the brain in the first years of life.

Remembering Ivar Lovaas


Lovaas Institute For Early Intervention


Wisconsin Early Autism Project


May Institute






Errorless Teaching/Verbal Behavior

 In Skinner’s 1957 book, Verbal Behavior, he outlines a detailed analysis of language which includes seven different verbal operants: echoic, mand, tact, intraverbal, textual transcript, and copying–a–text (Sundberg and Michael).  These verbal operants are the basis for the methodology known as Errorless Teaching.  The pioneers include Jack Michael, Mark L. Sundberg and J.W. Partington.  Because of their extensive travel and contribution to the field of behavior analysis, Vincent Carbone and Patrick McGreevey are also associated with the methodology.

In his book Verbal Behavior, Skinner classified language into types, or “operants.”

Each has a different function. Verbal Behavior Therapy focuses on four-word types.

They are:

Mand. A request. Example: “Cookie,” to ask for a cookie.

Tact. A comment used to share an experience or draw attention. Example: “airplane” to point out an airplane.

Intraverbal. A word used to answer a question or otherwise respond. Example: Where do you go to school? “Castle Park Elementary.”

Echoic. A repeated, or echoed, word. Example: “Cookie?” “Cookie!” (important as the student needs to imitate to learn)

In this methodology, the verbal operants (echoic, mand, tact) are separate repertoires and each is taught, as well as a speaker and listener repertoire.  The echoic is a verbal operant that involves vocal imitation.  In other words, the child echos or repeats the speaker’s words. The mand is a type of language that is controlled by a want or need.  A mand could be seen as a request and there are different types of mands which include: mands for different parts of speech (verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns), mands for information, and mands for permission.  All of the following are classified as mands: up, milk, I want milk, stop, look at me, talk louder, what is it, who is that, may I…  Mands are driven by establishing operations which is the motivation to use the verbal operant.  For example, if you want to eat cereal and there is no milk, the motivation to get milk is high; therefore, you are likely to ask for milk.  If you wanted to exit a room and someone is standing in your way, the motivation to leave the room is high; therefore, you would ask the person to move out of the way.  It is easy to teach mands, if you contrive and manipulate establishing operations.  One way of contriving an establishing operation would be to put the child’s favorite candy in a container that he or she could not open.  The motivation to get the piece of candy would be higher if the child had not had that particular type of candy in one week (deprivation); therefore, the child would mand “open” or “open the bowl” or “get the candy”…The tact involves the child labeling something in the environment.  For example, the child sees an apple and says “apple”.  A tact is functionally different from a mand in that tacting an item does not mean the child desires the item; he/she is simply labeling it.

Intraverbals and identifying objects, receptively, by function, feature, and class (RFFC) are also used to increase language.  The intraverbal is strengthened and maintained by social reinforcement and is characterized by fill-ins or “Wh” questions.  Intraverbals are types of social communication or responses to others verbal language.  For example, “I’m brushing my hair with a …” and “What is something that I brush my hair with?” (no brush present) are both intraverbals.  A child may be able to tact or mand for an item; however, he/she cannot identify what the object is used for, describe what it looks like, or name the class or category it belongs to.  The child is taught to identify objects in this manner by the way of RFFC’s.


Partington Behavior Analysts, Inc


Dr. Patrick McGreevy


Dr. Vincent Carbone


Dr. Mark Sundberg


California Unified Service Providers


Verbal Behavior Institute



Additional Resources & References

  • Carbon Clinic Publications
  • McGreevy, P. (1985). Making precision teaching part of your normal teaching routine. Proceedings of the 1984 International Precision Teaching Conference. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.
  • Miltenberger, R. G. (2012). Behavioral skills training procedures (Behavior modification: principles and procedures, pp. 251–269). Belmont: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
  • Skinner BF. Verbal behavior. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall; 1957.
  • Sundberg ML. VB-MAPP: verbal behavior milestones assessment and placement program. Concord: AVB Press; 2008.
  • Sundberg, M. L. (1987). A review of Psychological Aspects of Language,
    edited by Chase and Parrott. The Behavior Analyst, 10, 107-108.
  • Sundberg, M. L. (1987). Teaching language to the developmentally disabled:
    Concord, CA: Manuscript submitted for publication.
  • The Teaching Interaction Procedure and Behavioral Skills Training For Individuals Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Review and Commentary

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