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Banking Time Consultation

Unlike the interventions just discussed, in which the stated aim is to alter teacher's representations-an internal phenomenon, the interventions discussed in this section specifically pertain to interactive behaviors, and external, observable phenomena. These interventions are targeted at the interaction of teacher-child dyads. Banking Time, an intervention prescribing specific forms of teacher-child interaction, will be introduced, followed by specific steps for implementation with the teacher-child dyad as well as classroom-level intervention.

As was the case for the interventions aimed at teacher's representations of their relationships with children, these more direct interventions have their roots in work with parents and children (e.g., Barkley, 1987). A review of the literature on parent-child intervention reveals a range of intervention techniques that frequently contain a component that involves the parent and child spending time together in a non-directive, child-centered session of play or other activity. Greenberg and colleagues (see Greenberg, et al., 1991) have described problem adult-child interactions as involving difficulties in the adult "following the child's lead" in play, learning, or semi-structured activities. Not surprisingly, research on child-parent relationships frequently demonstrates that parents of children with behavior problems (non-compliance, resistance) are observed to be controlling, dominating the child in play sessions (Greenberg, et al., 1991, 1993). This form of overcontrolled or even intrusive style of interaction by the adult is a very common correlate of dyadic relationship problems (e.g., insecure attachment, non-compliance, emotional negativity, and adult ineffectiveness). These features characterize teacher-child interactions when teachers report high scores on the STRS Conflict scale. Unfortunately, a low level of conflict between an adult and child does not ensure a supportive, warm relationship. Some parents and teachers have relationships with children that are characterized by disconnection and rejection and, as with relationships high in conflict, these relationships are associated with a variety of child problems. Teachers who have disengaged with one or many students are likely to have low scores across the subscales of the STRS, particularly on the Closeness scale.

The remedy used to address these relationship problems is a set of procedures designed to help the adult interact positively and non-directively with the child, thereby creating a different set of relationship feedback processes. In the case of Barkley's (1987) parent consultation program, for example, parents are directed to spend up to twenty minutes daily with the child in an activity chosen by the child. These sessions occur regularly each day regardless of the child's behavior or misbehavior, and they require that the parent adopt a much different role than is typical for adult-child interaction. They are instructed not to teach, elicit information, ask questions, direct or control the play; instead, they are to narrate, observe, and label (not interpret). In short, as Barkley (1987) notes, the adult is to act like a "sportscaster."

Interestingly, this type of time is one of the first skills prescribed in the Barkley behavior management system, before the use of a token economy (reinforcement) or time out. It is viewed as a foundation upon which to build the child-parent relationship, which, in turn, can facilitate the effectiveness of behavior management techniques by promoting increased value of the adult's attention to the child, better child-parent communication, and more positive emotional experiences and motivation to change.

This technique has been adapted for use in schools in the form of an intervention called "Banking Time." In Banking Time the teacher works with a consultant and implements a daily (if possible) regimen of between five and fifteen minutes of individual time with a target child. The intervention is called "Banking Time" because of the metaphor of saving up "positive experiences" so that the relationship between teacher and child can withstand conflict, tension, and disagreement without deteriorating and returning to a negative state. Thus, the child and teacher can draw upon their accrued relationship "capital," and "withdraw" from the relationship resources that enable them to interact effectively in times of stress.

For example, one second-grade teacher had been practicing Banking Time with a child for two weeks because she felt that she was unable to "break through and communicate" with this child. It both troubled her and the child was not doing well in the classroom. After the two weeks (five Banking Time sessions), one afternoon the child was in a conflict situation with peers that usually led to his breaking of classroom rules. The teacher approached the child, touched him with her arm (he did not recoil as was the case before) and she asked him to look at her (he made eye contact) and she asked him to stop (he stopped). She and the child walked to the side of the class and discussed the problem situation. The child verbalized his version of the experience and engaged with the teacher in some problem solving. The teacher reported this was a completely new pattern, prior to the Banking Time intervention this would have inevitably resulted in a deteriorating situation with the child noncompliant and angry and the teacher feeling frustrated and ineffective. In this case, the teacher-child relationship brought resources to the child in a challenging situation and enabled the child to function in a more advanced or developmentally mature (e.g., representational) manner than he would have previously.

This portion of the manual provides information for the consultant and teacher on the implementation of Banking Time. Ideally the consultant should arrange to meet with a teacher at least once a week during the implementation. Each consultant and teacher pair will cover the material at a different rate, but the more concentrated the consultation session can be, the more likely the teacher is to implement Banking Time effectively and consistently. It is very important for the consultant to have a thorough understanding of the entire implementation before beginning consultation sessions with a teacher. In this way, the consultant may make more informed decisions about how much material to cover in a given session, based on the teacher's comfort and understanding. Following is a brief description of the program for implementation.

Section One introduces the teacher to the basic principles of Banking Time as well as assists her in introducing Banking Time to the child with whom she will be working. During this section the consultant reviews information from the assessment and work on representations conducted earlier and helps the teacher gain a better understanding of why Banking Time is important and how it works.

Section Two covers details on implementation. Once the teacher has a solid foundation in the principles of Banking Time, the consultant and teacher may spend one long or several shorter sessions covering the actual execution of Banking Time, including scheduling sessions, choosing a location and activities, as well as information on how to make Banking Time interactions most effective. This information on the implementation of Banking Time is divided into three steps, the first two of which should be covered before the teacher begins her first Banking Time session with a child. The last step of this section provides the consultant with guidelines for follow-up consultation sessions.

Section Three, entitled "Banking Time at the Classroom Level," provides information to help the teacher apply Banking Time principles to her interactions with individual and small groups of children throughout the school day. This can be a powerful extension for teachers who have many children in their classroom with whom they would like to form stronger, more supportive relationships.

Section One: Introducing Banking Time to the Teacher and Child

The goal of these introductory consultation sessions is to engage the teacher in thinking about how she might begin to change the quality of her interactions with students, especially those who are particularly troubled or distant. Additionally, the teacher will begin to become familiar with the implementation of Banking Time and learn how to introduce the intervention to the child. The introduction to Banking Time procedures can be facilitated through the use of the videotape accompanying this manual. It allows the teacher to become more comfortable with the execution of these procedures and may also be used to stimulate conversation and anticipate problems in implementation. By the end of these sessions, the teacher should have a solid understanding of the purpose of Banking Time as well as the general procedure for implementation. A more thorough introduction to the procedures will be provided to the teacher in the following section.

STEP 1: Review Information Gathered during Assessment

It will be helpful to begin the description of Banking Time procedures by reviewing the information gathered during the assessment phase of the consultation. Focus on the strengths of the relationship and individuals, as well as on areas that need improvement. This is the time for the consultant to share his/her impressions of the processes operating in the particular relationship and to refer to the theoretical models presented in the first chapter to help the teacher gain a more complete understanding of the relationship.

STEP 2: Review Banking Time Video

When first introducing Banking Time, it may be helpful to provide the teacher with a concrete example of how the procedures are implemented. One way to accomplish this task is to watch the Banking Time Video, which provides several examples of teachers actually conducting Banking Time sessions. Typically, teachers who are feeling anxious about beginning the intervention have a hard time imagining exactly what to do in sessions. The video will help in this regard, but it is also important to emphasize that every teacher-child relationship is different and that there is an extensive range in the way Banking Time sessions will look, from teacher to teacher and child to child. Therefore, rather than viewing the tape as a prototypic model for Banking Time sessions, it should be used to encourage conversation and questions about the process. Stop after each section and ask the teacher about her thoughts or concerns. Did it look hard or easy? Did she notice any patterns in the interactions? What did she think the child was thinking during the session? How did she think the teacher was feeling? These types of questions will allow the teacher to ask questions without feeling anxiety about her own competence or performance.

STEP 3: Principles for Introducing Banking Time to the Child

As described above, the target of this intervention is the teacher-child dyad. Just as it is important for the teacher to have thorough a understanding of Banking Time procedures before implementation, the child should be introduced to Banking Time in a thoughtful manner. This introduction will be most powerful and meaningful if it comes from the teacher, so the goal of this step is for the consultant and teacher to discuss the most appropriate way for the introduction to be made. At first, children typically find the uninterrupted, one-on-one attention they receive from a teacher during Banking Time a bit unusual. However, a thorough introduction will facilitate the process and increase the effectiveness of Banking Time sessions from the beginning of implementation.

It is important for the teacher to emphasize throughout the introduction that she is concerned about the child, without blaming the child for being bad or incompetent. This can be achieved most easily by reminding the teacher to focus on talking to the child about improving the relationship, rather than on curing child misbehavior. Additionally, the teacher should inform the child that the sessions will be regularly scheduled, non-contingent on child (mis)behavior, and somewhat different from regular classroom time. Children will not typically have a lot of questions right away, but the teacher should check in with the child frequently during the introduction to make sure he is listening and understands what the teacher is saying. The teacher may also inquire about how the child is feeling, or ask the child what he thinks about the idea. This introduction is the first time the teacher and child have contact regarding Banking Time and it is important for the teacher to build open communication, respect, and concern from the beginning.

The introduction should be given to the child shortly before the intervention begins, perhaps the day before the first Banking Time session. Here is an example of one introduction:

I know that being in the classroom has been tough for you lately. I've gotten upset with you a lot and you've had a hard time getting along with other kids in the class. I'd like to help you be more successful here. Do you have any ideas how I might do that? (Wait and respond appropriately).

Sometimes when I am working with the whole class, it is difficult for me listen to you and help you. So I thought that it might be helpful for us to spend some one-on-one time together a few times a week. I'd like this time to be different from the regular class time we spend together. I'd like to get to know you better-what you like to do, what you think about. And maybe you can get to know me better too, so that we can be helpful to each other.

Starting tomorrow, we'll meet for 10 minutes in the morning, first thing, every Tuesday and Thursday. I'll have some things out and you can choose what you'd like to do. We'll meet every Tuesday and Thursday, no matter what else is happening. It's important for you to know that I am here to help you, even when things get busy or you are having a hard day. Do you have any questions?

Section Two: Implementing Banking Time

Teachers and children require the use of Banking Time because their relationship needs change. This could be because they are stuck in a pattern of negative interactions, emotions and attributions, or because they are not involved enough. Banking Time changes relationships because it prescribes very set ways of interacting that require, over time, teacher and child to relate differently. Because it is used with relationships that are usually in some form of difficulty, it is necessary to prescribe the time in the way it is described below. That is, it is important to constrain teacher-child interactions.

Banking Time requires two kinds of adjustments in teachers' interactions with children. First, teachers have to schedule and ensure regular opportunities for Banking Time sessions. Second, the Banking Time sessions require teachers to allow the child to direct the activity and flow of the interaction. Both of these adaptations, regular sessions and child-directed activities, can be difficult for teachers and typically require significant support from the consultant. The steps below are intended to provide the teacher with information that will allow her to become comfortable with this new type of interaction.

Below is a detailed explanation of each step. Although the implementation is presented in three discrete steps, and the process of introducing this information will likely take a least three sessions, the consultant should use judgment in deciding how much information to cover each time he/she meets with a teacher. The important factor in this judgment is that the teacher feels comfortable with the prescribed interventions as well as with the consultation process itself, so that she feels at ease raising her questions and concerns throughout her meetings with the consultant. The teacher's comfort (or discomfort) with the process will be reflected in her interactions with the child. Consequently, it is much better to take the time necessary at the beginning of the consultation process to develop a strong consulting relationship and a thorough understanding of the Banking Time procedures, than to face problems with unsuccessful implementation later.

STEP 1: Scheduling Banking Time

The goal of this step is to discuss with the teacher the importance of structural components of Banking Time sessions, including choosing a day, time, setting, and materials. It is essential to emphasize the importance of these structural components to the teacher because creating a consistent, quiet, safe, and interactively stimulating environment for Banking Time sessions greatly increases the teacher's ability to promote change in the teacher-child relationship. "Scheduling Banking Time Sessions" is provided to help the consultant and teacher organize this discussion. By the end of this step the teacher should have completed this worksheet and formalized a specific plan for at least the first four Banking Time sessions.

Choosing a day and time.

Frequently, children chosen for this intervention will have a history of inconsistent and unpredictable interactions with adults. It is essential that the teacher work to counteract the child's beliefs and expectations by providing consistency and predictability in the scheduling of Banking Time sessions. If possible, Banking Time should become a regular part of the classroom schedule. For example, if the child is typically at school early, the teacher may decide to have the child in the room for fifteen minutes before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Although scheduling can be difficult, teachers are creative individuals who can typically manage to find a few minutes in their busy weekly schedules to devote to Banking Time.

Teachers should have at least one Banking Time session a week. More frequent scheduling may be required for particularly strained or distant teacher-child relationships. Additionally, more frequent or longer sessions will speed up the building of the relationship and result in benefits more rapidly. The teacher should try to chose a time in which she is relatively free from distractions. This typically means avoiding times right before activities that are particularly challenging or that require a significant amount of set-up. In order to facilitate the child's engagement, the teacher should also avoid scheduling Banking Time sessions during highly desirable activities, such as recess or computer class. If the child typically has difficulty with transitions, it is a good idea to implement Banking Time directly before a highly desirable activity to help the child transition back into classroom routines.

It is critical to emphasize to the teacher that sessions are not contingent upon the child's behavior. One of the more common practices undermining relationships between teachers and students is teachers' views that giving attention to children who misbehave will reinforce the misbehavior. This is only true when the teacher attention is contingent upon the misbehavior and occurs in sequence with, or the same situation as, the misbehavior. In the Banking Time protocol, sessions are not coincident with misbehavior because they are defined ahead of time in the daily schedule, and teacher approval of behavior (rewarding or punishing) is not part of Banking Time.

The consultant should work closely with the teacher to identify specific times for Banking Time sessions and troubleshoot any potential problems that may arise. To facilitate this process, the consultant may use the "Scheduling Banking Time Sessions Worksheet" on which the teacher may specify the days and times she will implement Banking Time. Encourage her to write the sessions into her scheduling book so that they don't get pushed aside when things get busy. When meeting with a teacher to review Banking Time, note the time and length of the sessions and problem solve as needed to ensure regular and predictable scheduling.

Identifying an appropriate setting.

The more focused and attentive the teacher can be during Banking Time sessions, the more easily she will be able to impart her message of acceptance and interest to the child. Classrooms are typically very busy places and it can be difficult for a teacher to find a quiet setting to engage in one-on-one interactions. Ideally, there will be a separate room available for Banking Time

sessions to which the teacher can return for each Banking Time session, creating the most consistent and supportive environment possible. Additionally, the room should be small enough to promote close communication and interaction between the teacher and child. If a larger room is used, such as the cafeteria, the teacher may create a smaller space by setting materials on a table or rearranging furniture to form boundaries for the child's play.

If the classroom is the only available setting, it is advisable for another adult to be in the room to handle the questions and concerns of other students. This adult may be an aide, a parent, the school psychologist, or any other person available to provide supervision for a few minutes. Other students should be informed not to interrupt the teacher during these interactions.

The consultant and teacher should identify several possible locations for Banking Time sessions and discuss the advantages and limitations of each. Before the end of the consultation session the teacher should record a primary and alternate setting on the "Scheduling Banking Time Sessions."

Selecting activities and materials.

The activities for Banking Time sessions may vary depending on the age of the child and the materials available within the classroom. Ideally, the activity will provide an opportunity for the teacher to engage in play with the child. Whatever the activity, it is essential that the child choose the activity (within limits established for the classroom). It may take the child a few minutes to decide on an activity, but it important for the teacher to be patient. Children are often not accustomed to having such free choice within the classroom setting, but they will typically settle into a pattern of activity after the first few sessions. The consultant will need to provide guidance to the teacher in helping her allow the child to choose an activity. A walk through the classroom to identify potential activities and materials and discuss their use in Banking Time, will be helpful.

If possible, there should be a range of age-appropriate materials available to the child during Banking Time sessions. The freedom that children begin to feel during Banking Time interactions often allows them to take risks with their play that they might not otherwise, including experimenting with unfamiliar toys or games. Therefore, the teacher should be careful not to limit the materials to those that the child usually uses during peer play and avoid gender stereotypes in the selection of materials.

If the Banking Time session is located outside of the classroom, it may be helpful to put together a large container filled with a range of materials, including art supplies, balls, construction materials, games, and cards. This container can then be moved easily to and from the sessions, providing for smoother transitions into and out of Banking Time sessions.

The "Scheduling Banking Time Sessions" worksheet provides a space for the teacher to record those activities/materials which she will make available during the first Banking Time sessions.


This step provides the consultant with an opportunity to solidify the structural components of Banking Time with the teacher. As stated earlier, this process builds a foundation for the implementation of the intervention and must be given significant time and attention. By the end of this step, the consultant should feel confident that the teacher has a set plan for the timing, setting, and availability of materials for Banking Time sessions. With this planning accomplished, the consultant and teacher are ready to move onto the next step, in which the teacher begins her first Banking Time sessions.

STEP 2: Banking Time Basics

Once Banking Time is scheduled, a space is identified, and the child chooses an activity, the teacher can actually begin Banking Time sessions. This involves a pattern of observation, narration, labeling of the child's play, and creating relational themes. This step includes a great deal of information and may seem overwhelming to the teacher at first glance. Therefore, the consultant should spend as much time on this step as necessary to ensure that the teacher is comfortable with the procedures. With sufficient discussion and practice of the procedures, the teacher's interactions should become much more natural. The consultant may choose to return to the Banking Time video and/or engage the teacher in role-plays to facilitate the teacher's comfort with Banking Time procedures. Additionally, the teacher handout entitled, "Banking Time Basics," includes detailed information about of each of these processes.


The teacher should spend the first few moments of Banking Time sessions watching the child before joining in. This provides the teacher and the child with an opportunity to relax. It also reinforces the importance of allowing the child to lead the session. The teacher should not, however, fall into the position of passive observer. Rather, she should become actively observant, taking note of the child's choice of activity, words, and affect. For example, if a child is setting up a play house, arranging furniture and people, the teacher may note which characters and rooms within the house are involved in the child's play, how much the child verbalizes during play, and what, if any, attempts the child makes to include the teacher in play. This information will be important as the teacher moves on to the next procedures, narration and labeling. The teacher should also be aware of any indications of the child's anxiety or discomfort in these first few minutes of play. Lastly, the teacher should take a moment to consider her own thoughts and affect. Feelings of uneasiness, boredom, and frustration are common and should be solicited by the consultant in follow-up consultation sessions, because they will inevitably impact the teacher's ability to

construct a quality Banking Time environment. To facilitate these discussions, the teacher may record observations at the end of the session on "Banking Time Log," which will be discussed in more detail later.


After a few moments of observation, the teacher should begin to describe out loud what the child is doing in an interested tone of voice. This indicates to the child that the teacher is engaged and responsive. Typically, children are a bit surprised by this non-directive interaction with their teacher and they may take a few moments to adjust or may look frequently to the teacher for direction. However, if the teacher continues to observe and narrate the child's activities, the pair will generally settle into a comfortable routine.

In his parent-training manual, Barkley (1997) suggests that parents imagine being a sportscaster describing the action of a sporting event for a radio broadcast. Using this analogy may help the teacher adopt an appropriate style of narration for Banking Time. The narration should be an uncritical commentary on the child's play, including expressions of genuine interest and curiosity. Young children generally find this narration particularly reinforcing. Older children may find too much narration a distraction and, therefore, teachers should use their judgment in deciding how much narration to include in Banking Time sessions with these students.

The teacher should refrain from any teaching, directing, selective attending, or reinforcement during Banking Time sessions. Statements such as "Let's read a book" or "Let me show you how to do that" are directive and to be avoided. Statements such as "You read well" or "How does that work?" while conveying a positive message (approval, interest) are also not neutral and, if possible, should be avoided. The teacher can be coached by the consultant to adopt a more neutral tone in which behavior is observed, for example, "You like reading," "You put that whole puzzle together," "I can help you if you wish," or "You aren't asking for help on that; you want to do it by yourself."

This type of non-directive interaction is typically very difficult for teachers who are trained to take advantage of every "teachable moment." However, it is a critical component of the intervention, because it allows the child the "relational space" necessary to explore and understand the teacher as a supportive and uncritical adult who is available as an emotional resource. If Banking Time sessions are over-controlled by frequent teacher direction, questions, and commands, the interactions will not be that different from the rest of the day and little change is likely to occur. The consultant may want to model or practice interactions with the teacher, review the Banking Time video, or videotape a session with an experienced teacher in the school to provide concrete examples of how the process works.

Two other ways in which teachers can communicate their interest in the child's play is to reflect appropriate talk and imitate appropriate play. Reflecting simply requires the teacher to repeat (approximately) the child's words. If a child says, "Look, I made a happy face," the teacher may respond, "Yes, you made a big smiling face." If a child is playing with Legos and says, "I like to play with these," a teacher may say, "You have fun playing with Legos." Imitation is accomplished as the teacher watches the child carefully and follows his lead. If a child puts a dress on a baby doll, the teacher may take another doll and dress it. If the child starts stacking blocks, the teacher may join in the stacking or start her own stack. Natural and genuine reflection and imitation will generally increase the child's verbal and non-verbal communication and promote more positive teacher-child interactions.

Lastly, acceptance and interest may be conveyed non-verbally in the form of smiles, nods, or a gentle pat on the back. The amount of physical contact between a teacher and her student may be moderated by her level of comfort as well as her sense of the child's comfort, but, nevertheless, is an important component of the teacher's behavior during Banking Time. Similarly, the teacher should be careful not to convey non-acceptance or rejection through looking at other children or attending to organizational or other teaching tasks during the Banking Time sessions.

When first introducing this segment to a teacher, it may be helpful to engage in a short role-playing activity, with the consultant first taking the role of teacher and the teacher playing the role of the child. As the teacher "plays," the consultant may model appropriate narration techniques, guided by the above suggestions. Next, the teacher and consultant may switch roles to provide the teacher with an opportunity to practice this new type of interaction. During role-playing, the consultant may provide constructive suggestions and answer any of the teacher's questions or concerns. This process will help ensure the success of the teacher's first Banking Time sessions.


Next, the teacher may gradually begin to label the child's feelings. The accurate use of language to label the child's emotional states provides children with a set of coping skills that are fundamental aspects of emotional health. Critical to this process is the capacity of the teacher to label the child's experience accurately and in a timely manner. Used in this way, language allows the teacher and child to develop a sense of shared meaning and, in turn, the teacher-child relationship is strengthened.

Often teachers have been trained to focus on positive thoughts and feelings. Although positive emotions are likely to occur during Banking Time and should be noticed and labeled, the teacher should also be cognizant of some of the child's more difficult feelings such as anger, frustration, sadness, fear, and anxiety. For example, a child may become notably frustrated as he struggles to put together a difficult puzzle. In this case, the teacher might say, "This is a difficult puzzle. You are really working hard to put it together, but you look pretty frustrated. It can be frustrating when you try hard and something still doesn't go as you'd like."

If the child is engaged in pretend play, the teacher should also attend to the feelings and thoughts of the characters in the play. If brother and sister dolls are fighting the teacher may make a simple comment such as "They look pretty angry with one another." These comments should be kept relatively simple. When a teacher accurately labels a child's feelings, the child will generally continue or intensify the play activity or make an attempt to include the teacher more in the play. If a child does not agree with the teacher's labeling, he will typically make this clear by correcting the teacher, suddenly stopping or changing activity, or excluding the teacher from the play. A teacher should be alert for these changes in the child's behavior and affect. If they occur, a teacher can usually reengage the child by spending a few moments simply observing and narrating play.

Creating relational themes.

As a teacher becomes more experienced with Banking Time, she should begin to introduce relational themes into the sessions in order to help the child understand the roles the teacher or other adults can and do play in his life. Roles such as "helper," "safe person," and "same person", can be illustrated for the child using the interactions taking place in Banking Time. In this way, Banking Time can help children and teachers define their relationship, which, in turn, can facilitate children's knowing how to use teachers in other classroom interactions. By and large, themes and messages involving the teacher as helper, her unconditional availability and predictability, a source of safety and comfort, and resource for problem-solving are common to most teacher-child relationships in childhood. Depending on the actual nature of the teacher-child relationship and the child's perceptions of adults, these messages can be tailored.

The teacher and consultant can choose these messages on the basis of interpreting assessment information from the child, such as when measures reveal that the child feels disengaged from or anxious with the teacher. Or, the messages can be gleaned from observations the teacher and the consultant make in the classroom. For example, a child that rarely or never asks for help would be an ideal candidate for the message "Adults can be helpers" or "I am here to help when you need me." A child who has a chaotic home life may benefit from receiving the messages, "I am safe" and "I am consistent." The important point is that the messages chosen should reflect the child's perceptions and actually disconfirm the child's expectations of or beliefs about the teacher. Like the interventions on teacher's representations, these messages should provide new information to the child's representations of the teacher-child relationship.

The teacher and consultant should agree on two or three relational themes that are relevant to the particular child. Helping the teacher to focus on just a few themes will prevent her from becoming distracted from the interactive processes described above-observation, narration, and labeling. It may be helpful for the consultant and teacher to fill out the worksheet entitled "Identifying and Communicating Messages" in order to clarify which messages to attend to, why the messages are important, and how they can be most effectively communicated to the child. Additionally, some examples are provided in the handout entitled, "Weaving Relationship Themes into Interactions with Children."

Simplicity is key and consistency of expression and enactment of these messages is important. It is essential for the teacher to choose messages that she can follow through outside of sessions and during everyday classroom interactions. In other words, a teacher should be careful not to make promises she can't keep. For example, the message "I accept you" may not be appropriate at first if a teacher is really struggling with a child and frequently finds herself in situations where she is very angry or frustrated with the child. If she cannot consistently bring a high level of acceptance into each of her interactions with the child throughout the day, it might be more suitable to first focus on a message such as "I am a helper." This is an easier and more natural message for most teachers to convey to children. As the teacher becomes more comfortable with Banking Time and her perceptions about the child begin to change, she may feel more genuine affection for the child, at which time the message "I accept you" will be more easily and convincingly conveyed to the child in and out of Banking Time sessions.

Through Banking Time sessions, the child actually experiences what these messages mean in interactions; thus, the messages are a powerful means of helping the child understand how the teacher-child relationship can provide support. Even more importantly, these messages begin to pair words with meaningful experiences for the child so that eventually words can begin to substitute for these direct experiences. A child who frequently gets very upset by any change in routine may be more easily soothed by a few simple words such as "I am here to help you" from her teacher, once these words have been consistently paired with the teacher's attention and concern during four or five Banking Time sessions.

Ending the session.

For obvious reasons, children really delight in this uninterrupted attention from their teacher and some may become upset at the end of the session. In order to help prevent this reaction, the teacher should give the child several warnings toward the end of the session. A few simple statements, such as "We have two minutes left," can help prepare the child for the end and may facilitate a transition back to classroom activities. Typically, children have more difficulty with endings in the first few sessions. Once they adjust to the routine of the sessions, they can usually be easily redirected into other activities.


When used together, observation, narration, labeling, and relational theme communication are powerful means of constraining teacher-child interactions to promote more positive and supportive relationships. Inevitably, it will take time for the teacher to become comfortable with these procedures because they are so different from her typical interactions with students. Nevertheless, the more closely a teacher adheres to the procedures described above, the more quickly she will see alterations in her own attitudes and feelings about the child, as well as changes in the child's behavior. The consultant plays a vital role in helping the teacher maintain her focus during the course of this intervention, as described in the next section, "Follow-up Consultation."

STEP 3: Follow-up Consultation

Once Banking Time is scheduled regularly and sessions take place as prescribed, the teacher and consultant should continue to troubleshoot and problem solve as they discuss the progress being made. Teachers will inevitably have questions following their first few experiences with Banking Time. Thus, it is important for the consultant to have follow-up sessions with the teacher in which these concerns can be addressed. The consultant should take an active role in scheduling these follow-up sessions, perhaps agreeing with the teacher on a time even before she begins her first Banking Time session. As with any attempt to change behavior, Banking Time requires significant dedication and the more supported the teacher feels, the more likely she is to succeed.

One way to facilitate these discussions is to have the teacher record each session on the worksheet entitled "Banking Time Log" while the experience is still fresh in her mind. This worksheet provides a space for the teacher to record the date, time, setting, and activity of the session, as well as information regarding themes that were introduced, child and teacher affect, and changes or problems that arose.

Recording sessions in this format serves several purposes. First, it allows the teacher and consultant to keep track of the consistency of the implementation of the intervention. Secondly, it may help the teacher identify changes occurring in both the child's behavior and her perceptions of the child. Lastly, it provides a format for stimulating conversation in consultation sessions about changes in the child or teacher's behavior, alterations in the teacher's perceptions about the child, and problems that have arisen.

The content of follow-up sessions will vary significantly depending on the teacher's experiences in her first Banking Time sessions. It might be helpful at this point to review the "Banking Time Log" and discuss the notes the teacher has made. Additionally, the consultant may decide to reintroduce portions of the Banking Time video in order to address some of the teacher's concerns. Lastly, after the teacher has completed at least five or six sessions of Banking Time with a particular child, the consultant may ask her to fill out the "Teacher Feedback" form and bring it to the consultation meeting. This form provides the teacher with an opportunity to reflect on the progress she has made, as well as on possible changes to themes that may enhance Banking Time sessions with a particular child. The goal of these follow-up sessions is to provide the teacher with the support and motivation necessary for her to continue to implement Banking Time on a regular basis. Below are several common concerns and questions that may arise in these discussions. Following each is a brief response.

"It sounds like a great idea, but I just don't have time for this."

This is understandably one of the most common reactions teachers have when trying to implement Banking Time for the first time. However, the "where and when" of Banking Time is very flexible. If teachers have been exposed to some type of information about relationships described in the first chapter, they are much more receptive to implementing Banking Time interventions. Teachers often work it into their schedule during transitions to special or free time (e.g., when the class goes to lunch) and sometimes during actual instructional time, even doing Banking Time in small groups. Importantly, Banking Time should be taught not as an end in itself, but as a way to introduce new interactions, perceptions, and feelings into a relationship. The interactions, on the part of the teacher, that accomplish these ends in the context of a Banking Time session can also accomplish these ends in reading group, recess, circle time, or a science lesson. (See the last section of this Chapter, "Banking Time at the Classroom Level," for detail on classroom extensions of Banking Time.)

"The child keeps choosing inappropriate activities or can't make up her mind about what to do."

Although some activities provide a richer context for the implementation of Banking Time (e.g., playing with a dollhouse vs. playing a video game), children should be given a significant amount of latitude in deciding what they would like to do. This will help engage them in the process and teachers should attempt to be as flexible as possible in this regard. Children often show this reticence for good reason and, if a teacher continues to be patient, with time the child may recognize that Banking Time provides an opportunity for new types of interactions with the teacher than have previously been experienced. Teachers may help set limits on a child's choice or engage an indecisive child by ensuring that a wide range of acceptable activities are easily accessible in the Banking Time area or by providing a non-directive comment such as, "You often play jump rope, checkers, or play dough with your friends" or "There are dolls, cards, paints, and drawing available today."

"Other students want to join in and frequently interrupt Banking Time."

It is not uncommon for other children to express curiosity in the teacher's activities during Banking Time. As suggested earlier, if it is not possible to conduct Banking Time outside of the classroom, another adult should be present to help keep the other students occupied. If there is a particular child who continually expresses interest in Banking Time, it is quite possible that the child is not receiving the individual attention needed and may be an ideal candidate for the intervention in the future. Additionally, some teachers have chosen to rotate Banking Time through their entire class. Although this is not ideal for working on particularly strained relationships that need a great deal of immediate attention, it may work well in classrooms with less severe problems and can be a preventative resource built into classroom routines.

"The child keeps misbehaving during our sessions."

Behavioral standards during Banking Time sessions are the same as those observed during other classroom periods. That is, the rules for behavior do not change during Banking Time. This is explained to the child well in advance of the first Banking Time session. If classroom rules are violated during a Banking Time session, the typical consequence should be delivered following the session. It is essential that the session is not terminated when a child misbehaves.

Therefore, if cursing is not allowed during reading instruction, it is not allowed during Banking Time. A child who curses during a Banking Time session should be informed that a classroom rule has been broken and that he will have to have the consequence after the session ends. The teacher should attempt to continue to convey her acceptance of the child despite the misbehavior. She may say something such as, "Eric, you know that cursing is not allowed in our classroom. I know it can be difficult at times when you are frustrated, but it is important that we speak respectfully to each other in our classroom. This is our special time and we will continue it, but afterwards you will have to stay in from the first five minutes of recess."

It is surprising to most teachers to find that if Banking Time sessions are implemented as described above, even the most behaviorally challenging students typically misbehave very little during the sessions, especially once they have adjusted to the routine. One reason for this is that children are not receiving the same reinforcement for misbehavior that they do in other situations within the classroom (such as attention from peers or getting out of unpleasant or difficult activities). Additionally, most children come to truly appreciate the chance to take the lead in interaction with the teacher and this, along with the teacher's uninterrupted attention, serves to reinforce good behavior.

"He's been getting in trouble all day and I just can't see how giving him reinforcement for his behavior will help in the long run."

One of the more common practices undermining relationships between teachers and students is the teacher's view that giving attention to children who misbehave will reinforce the misbehavior. This is only true when the teacher attention is contingent upon the misbehavior and occurs in sequence with, or the same situation as, the misbehavior. In the Banking Time protocol, sessions are not typically coincident with misbehavior because they are defined ahead of time in the daily schedule, and teacher approval of behavior (rewarding or punishing) is not part of Banking Time. Thus, Banking Time is not a reinforcer, nor is termination of sessions a punishment. Use of Banking Time as a reinforcer (e.g., "You now have earned your session with me") or as a punishment (e.g., "You lost your time with me today") will eliminate its effect on the child-teacher relationship and most likely damage the relationship.

"I give her warnings about the end of the session, but every time she gets angry and refuses to go back to the classroom."

As stated above, this is a common reaction that generally wanes as the child adjusts to the routine of Banking Time. However, some children will continue to have significant difficulties at the end of sessions. The teacher should indicate that she understands the child's frustrations with a statement such as "I can see that ending our time together is hard for you. I understand that and I am sorry you are feeling angry, but we will meet again next week and right now it is time to go back to the classroom." Although the child may remain upset, it is important to avoid getting into a power struggle with the child. One possibility in this situation is to schedule Banking Time immediately before a highly desired activity such as recess, lunch, or art class, so that the child is more motivated to make the transition back into the classroom activities.

"How do I know when it's OK to stop Banking Time sessions?"

Banking Time sessions should continue well beyond the point that the teacher begins to see change in her relationship with a child. Consider the analogy that Banking Time sessions are like a prescription of antibiotics and should continue even after things start feeling better. Once the teacher consistently reports that things are going well in several follow-up consultation meetings, it may be time to consider phasing the sessions out. It is important that the child is informed of this change and given a chance to discuss it with the teacher. Hopefully, by this point the teacher and child have established a solid enough relationship that this can be done without significantly distressing the child. Additionally, by this time the teacher and child should have established many relational patterns outside of Banking Time sessions, that can serve to continue the support that the sessions offered. It is a good idea to gradually reduce the frequency of sessions, perhaps continuing to meet once a month or so just to help sustain the changes made earlier. If the child is going through a particularly stressful time at a later date, it may be helpful for the teacher to reintroduce Banking Time for a short time. Once the teacher and child have the interaction pattern down, these occasional "booster sessions" are easily integrated into the classroom routine.


As stated in the introduction, Banking Time is usually necessitated by teacher-child relationships that are severely strained for one or many reasons. Typically, by the time a teacher attempts to address the problem, negative relational patterns and behaviors are well established. The teacher should be clear that it will take time for significant change to occur. Teachers often state that they find their own attitudes and behavior toward the child changing first. Following several weeks of consistent implementation, the teacher may begin to see changes in the child's behavior as well. Patience is essential and the consultant plays a fundamental role in helping the teacher to sustain her efforts despite the inevitable frustrations and setbacks. As the teacher becomes more comfortable with Banking Time, she may begin to schedule sessions with several other children and may also begin to introduce Banking Time concepts into other classroom interactions, as discussed in the next section.

Section Three: Banking Time with Classrooms!

Once teachers become comfortable with the individual Banking Time sessions, they may choose to employ Banking Time at a classroom level. Implementing a Banking Time intervention for the classroom requires some alterations in the basic format, but the principles remain the same. Regularly-scheduled time blocks that are not conditional on behavior, a non-directive stance, using language to label feelings, predictable responsiveness, and calling attention to a few relationship messages (e.g., "I am here to help you"), all are possible within a small group or classroom framework. A teacher familiar with these principles can easily adapt the process to provide support to all of the children in the classroom. To the extent that the Banking Time philosophy is infused into curricular activities with regular, predictable scheduling of activities, the teacher can optimize the classroom environment in terms of its support of child-teacher relationships. Additionally, the teacher may decide to conduct small Banking Time groups several times a week, in order to rotate the intervention more systematically through the entire class. Details on both whole class and small group interventions are discussed below.

Extending Banking Time into Daily Interactions

Teachers can communicate the basic principles of Banking Time throughout the day in the way they schedule activities, construct the classroom environment, and interact with children. As with the individual sessions, the teacher needs to identify salient relationship messages to draw attention to or define certain roles or experiences in the relationship that can be helpful to all children. These have been elaborated earlier but can be summarized under three major themes: Consistency, Acceptance, and Availability. These are core relational themes that play out as an undercurrent to a host of interactions and classroom situations. Even outside of the actual Banking Time sessions, teachers can be alert to situations in which these messages are salient, and can verbalize these messages along with taking the appropriate action. In this way, just as in the Banking Time sessions, the teacher pairs an interactive behavior (which usually is accompanied by an emotional valence or quality) with a verbal message. Over time, and with consistent implementation, such messages will come to embody what the teacher and children believe and experience about their relationships with one another. This will help to override situational stressors or perturbations in the classroom and, hence, allow for greater flexibility in interactions and responses. A brief discussion of these core messages follows, with some suggestions as to ways in which the messages can be conveyed in daily interactions. This discussion is by no means exhaustive, however, and teachers and consultants are encouraged to have discussions about how these and other important relational messages can be communicated within their classroom and school. The consultant may have the teacher make a list of two or three actions or activities that will be implemented to communicate each message to the children in the classroom. During the next sessions, the teacher can report to the consultant on the progress of these actions, problem-solve solutions to issues that have arisen, and come up with additional actions/activities.

Relational Messages


Many children are coming from home environments that lack a consistent and predictable schedule, making it more difficult for them to regulate their own behavior. Teachers have the ability to begin to help children regulate themselves by creating stability within the classroom. Maintaining a relatively invariant class schedule and creating consistent class routines will help reach this goal. In addition, teachers can communicate consistency in the way they interact with and respond to children during difficult times. Classrooms can be stressful places and teachers are required to attend to a wide variety of children's needs and problems. Nonetheless, the more teachers can be consistent in their responses to these stressors, the safer and more comfortable children will feel in their relationships with the teacher. This type of positive interaction exhibited by a teacher fosters children's active exploration and learning. It also allows the students to take risks, emotionally and educationally, because they are aware of the consistent and genuine support of their teacher.


Teachers can convey acceptance through building a classroom environment that is respectful and inclusive. This acceptance can be built through broad, classroom level considerations, such as the inclusion of the cultural and socioeconomic diversity within the curriculum, as well as through conveying genuine interest in individual children's experiences, by engaging in social conversations. Classroom activities should be planned in such a way as to provide opportunities for all children to feel competent and valued. Additionally, discussions focusing on helping children support each other will enhance feelings of acceptance and inclusiveness within the classroom.


Once children feel they can count on teachers' consistency and acceptance, they are likely to be more open to relying on teachers for emotional support. In order for this process to occur, it is essential for teachers to create times when they are available to provide this support. Teachers may wish to open their doors fifteen minutes early each day and encourage children to come in just to hang out. Many children are starved for this individual, non-directive attention and interest from adults and thus it has the power to create special bonds between teachers and children. Again, the idea here is to build up relational capital, which the teacher can draw on later during more difficult instructional moments.

Creating Banking Time Groups

At the classroom level, teachers can build "Banking Time" interventions with students into small-group activities that are chosen by the students from a menu of alternatives. Activities available for use during these periods typically include board games, arts and crafts activities, even projects taken from the curriculum in math, language arts, social studies, or science. The teacher, for as little as ten minutes, spends time with the group, taking a reflective stance, while at the same time calling attention to relationship components and qualities as appropriate. Using this approach, a teacher can spend time with five or six children at a time, rotating groups of children so that during the course of a typical week, she might be involved with each child two or three times. Teachers should refer to the "Banking Time Basics" worksheet and apply the techniques of observation, narration, labeling, and creating relational themes to these small group interactions.

All the suggestions regarding scheduling of individual sessions apply here. Group sessions should be scheduled on a predictable, regular basis and should be non-contingent on prior child misbehavior. Therefore, even if a child has been having a "bad" day, he should be included in the group. If a child misbehaves during the group, he should be informed that the regular classroom penalty will be enforced at the conclusion of the group.

One major difference between these groups and individual Banking Time sessions is that groups include peer interactions. Thus, the teacher has the additional responsibility of supporting and constraining the way that children talk to and behave with one another. Generally, because the activities during these groups are fun and interesting, negative peer interactions are infrequent. However, if children engage in inappropriate verbal or physical interactions with each other, the teacher should make every attempt to use the group time to guide and support problem solving. For example, if one child grabs materials away from another, rather then sending the offending child out of the group, the teacher may ask each child to stop and think how the other is feeling. She may need to help each child to take the other's perspective (e.g., "Bobby really wants to use the glue now; he is having a really hard time waiting for it to be his turn" or "Erica was about to use the glue and it made her pretty angry when you took it from her"). Following this, the teacher can help the children arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. In this way, Banking Time groups can be used to facilitate peer relationships, as well as reinforce and strengthen the teacher's role as a supportive and helpful adult.

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