History 101 - Incidents to Observations
In relation to 'incidents' the Planner has gone through three developmental
Stage 1. Including and working with incident data
Initially the Support Planner did not include specific incident data and
focused only on planing and managing support (1997-2000) . In 2000 a component
was included to manage incident data. We too focused on incidents using a
structure that is still almost identical to what is proposed in the deign brief.
However things have developed two steps further without the need to add any new
components - the basic structure has worked well for the subsequent stages.
Stage 2. Incidents and 'concerns'.
After working with incident data for a while we realised that there were
other important and closely related data beyond incidents per se. Incidents are
events (hence the need for time and place data). We realised that there was
other significant data that might be thought of as 'concerns'. Concerns include
problematic events but included other more general matters such as attendance,
attitudes, cooperation, e.g., "Reluctant to take medication'... and out of
school matters, eg, "Mother reports concern about ...". As a result we renamed
these data as 'Concerns' and developed coding and reports to match.
Stage 3 (present) Incidents, concerns and other 'observations'
As users began to work with students using the data in the Planner the need
to record an even wider range of data emerged. For example, from a conversation
with a mother about her son's behaviour at home, one GO began to doubt an ADHD
diagnosis and wanted to record this as well as make a commitment to resolving
Similarly in conversations around the data many students (and their teachers)
have wanted to have their achievements and other good things included in the
"Class merit award for science project"
And now several schools are recording a weekly profile of how each day of the
week has been for the student and what is working/not working or being achieved,
"23/9 W=34322 noises much reduced " means that for the week ending 23/9
Joshua's in-class performance ranged from 4 (very poor) on Tuesday to 2 (good) on
Thursday and Friday. It also indicates that there was a significant reduction
in the noises produced by Joshua in class and this can be related to .And this
data then feeds several reports that are useful to the student, parents,
teachers and school. This simple data entry is building up a very significant
profile of the students progress and provides a lot of starting points for
conversations and coaching.
It is about focus and concepts.
So the core concept in this part of the Planner has gone from 'incident' -->
'concerns' --> 'observations' yet the structure of data in the Planner has not
required any additions or changes. Separating out incidents from concerns from
other observations is achieved by the way coding and report design. This
highlights that databases are fundamentally designed around concepts rather than
The net result of Stage 3. is a form of dynamic 'functional analysis' very
consistent with PBS. It also supports a whole host of important practices
impacting of the quality of life for students, their families and teachers and
the capacity of the school per se.
Implications for StIMS
If StIMS is also a Stage 3 device this also will make it much easier for current
users of the Planner to move to StIMS, something I am keen to see.
I am confident that StIMS will progress through these same three stages - they
represent stages in the development of informed professional practice. All users
of the Planner have begun with an almost exclusive focus on incidents then most
move rapidly to concerns and then to observations. There are three basic
questions we need to ask in order to support students and each other:
- What's working?
- What's not?
- What else might be possible?
Knowing what is going wrong as indicated by incidents (Stage 1) is important
and necessary, but not sufficient.
The following recommendations have been forwarded to several senior officers
associated with the development of StIMS.
- StIMS should help people move easily and naturally to Stage 3.
- And in this context StIMS needs to be understood as a communication device
rather than a recording device (although for some schools a recording device
would be progress)
- Consideration be given to amending the design brief so that it is intended
to support Stage 3. concepts and practices which may mean reconceptualising
what the data represent.