2024 MSLBD Symposium Continues to Impress!

Several ESU 5 - area staff were excited to attend the 42nd annual Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders (MSLBD) conference in Kansas City from February 29 to March 2nd.  Dr. Matt McNiff and Barbara Gross, ESU 5 staff, serve on the MSLBD planning committee and are part of the Master Teacher group that meets annually to determine topics of interest for staff who work with students with behavior disorders to present those topics at the upcoming year’s conference.  

Staff from the Beatrice CORE and SKILLS programs and the Fairbury CHANCE program were represented in our area.

While many of the presentations were relevant for higher-level support, most presentations helped all school staff teach students with challenging behaviors.  Participants who arrived for the pre-symposium presentations were provided three-hour intensive workshops that focused on topics such as high-probability strategies for managing classroom behavior, de-escalation strategies, tiered interventions for behavior, artificial intelligence in education, self-regulation strategies, and trauma-informed practices.  

Patrick Mulick
Several participants attended a lively and engaging presentation on de-escalation strategies by Patrick Mulick, a board-certified behavior analyst and educational consultant in Washington State

Patrick kept the audience happy, relaxed, and engaged by using such callouts as “Sweet Caroline”, to which we responded accordingly!  It was eye-opening to watch a room full of educational staff have difficulty returning to the presentation when given time to network.  It sometimes took Patrick three different callouts to get people back with the entire group of 400 people…we are more like our students than we think!  

The difficulty Patrick had in re-engaging us, however, is because staff who work with students with challenging behaviors very rarely have opportunities to problem-solve, share ideas, and know that other people are experiencing the same challenges.  

Approximately 1,000 individuals from all walks of life, rural and urban, para to professor came together to share ideas at MSLBD. 

These special people look forward to this conference every year. When the conference day was over, many teams met to critically analyze the presentations we had attended, ask questions, revamp programming, and share what was learned.  It was incredibly impressive to see our paras, both of whom are entering the field of behavior disorders, passionate about implementing the things that were learned.  

MSLBD provided an opportunity for participants to network at a poster session that included research, table talks with professionals, and food.

As a planning committee, it was determined that there are individuals who come to get help with particular students or behaviors.  To meet the needs of these individuals, targeted “Table Talks” were created and staffed with “experts” in the field of behavior.  This is just one example of MSLBD responding to the needs of our attendees and communities.

The conference always ends on a high note with a Friday night dance and lip-synch contest!  The committee feels this is another networking opportunity, but also a chance for chronically stressed staff to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals.  Staff were able to use this time to reset and reconnect with our purpose in serving this very difficult population of students.  

If you would like to learn more about attending MSLBD next year, please contact Barbara Gross (bgross@esu5.org) or Dr. Matt McNiff (mmcniff@esu5.org).


Article written by Barb Gross

I am so grateful that the ESU had so many specialists to work with my son, because now I know what to do to help my child with autism. The speech pathologist and occupational therapist from the ESU have allowed him to gain more than I ever expected him to. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
The best part of working at ESU 5 is the people I work with!
ESU 5 Staff Member
ESU 5 is a wonderful place to work! My co-workers are helpful, friendly and supportive.
ESU 5 Staff Member