Creek Elementary’s Teacher of the Year is Kylee McFarland, who teaches the kindergarten and first-grade BRAIN class. The BRAIN Program is designed to help children with behavioral issues learn replacement behaviors. Instead of simply suspending the student for acting out, the program is designed to help the student learn to control his or her own behavior.
McFarland said she has always been interested in a child’s behavior.
“Building relationships with my students and identifying what their triggers are and the ‘why’ behind the behavior is very important to me,” she said. “I found myself wanting those kiddos with behavior problems in my classroom year after year. I became very passionate about behavior intervention and giving students what they needed, no matter the time and effort it took on my part.”
Students in the program start off in the BRAIN class, learning the same curriculum as their peers. As they learn replacement behaviors and how to control their behavior, they’re gradually integrated back into the general education classroom. BRAIN is a leveled system — based on their level is how much time they spend in their general education classroom. McFarland said each student has three personalized behavior goals each day.
“We track their data daily and that helps determine if what we are doing is working. They do start out with a teacher’s assistant with them but as they ‘level up’ the TA spends less time with them. We have behavior intervention every morning. This is the time where I teach those skills that most of my kids are lacking such as self-control, calming techniques, respect, responsibility and more.”
McFarland sees her role as more than just an advocate for the children with behavior issues; she’s also a resource for other teachers.
“I took on the BRAIN program so that I could be a voice for students with behavioral needs,” she said. “I also want to be a support for general education teachers and help give them the resources and tools they need to be successful with these children as well.”
In addition to “leveling up” and attending their regular class, McFarland has put individual and class rewards in place, from earning points toward a treat to a classroom pizza party. McFarland said the progress students make thanks to the BRAIN program is life changing for them, their teacher and other students in their general education classes.
“Most of these kids come to me already feeling like they’re labeled as the ‘bad kid,’” McFarland said. “They have built a wall and do not want others to get close to them. They have learned that if they yell, scream or become violent, they get to go home or get out of class. After a child has leveled up enough to be in their general education classroom for most of the day, it is amazing to see how they blend in with all the other children.”
McFarland has been teaching for seven years, all of them at Mustang Creek Elementary.