The fact you are reading this Tip of the Week tells me you are someone who cares about this work. The BIT is often comprised of caring, compassionate, and thoughtful individuals. With intentional effort and structure, BITS can tap into the strengths and knowledge each team member brings with them. In 2018, I provided a Tip of the Week titled “Core Member Roles.” Please visit that guidance, as it outlines in more detail the roles and responsibilities of each BIT member, based on the lens and role they hold at their institution.
For this Tip, I want to emphasize the importance of team members preparing and arriving to the BIT ready to report out. It is important for everyone to do their homework based on their departmental lens and bring the information their office/department can provide. Time is a variable and BITs must be intentional with how they spend it. It will take some time to assess the entirety of the situation and the BIT’s effectiveness may be impacted by the pace at which all relevant information can be gathered. This will require everyone to investigate the systems, communications, and information they have available as a result of their position, authority, and access. As Brett Sokolow says, “leave no stone unturned.”
As the BIT puzzle analogy goes, the BIT is bringing together the pieces of the puzzle to view the situation in its entirety and context. Arriving to a meeting unprepared to speak to your department’s information is like showing up to the puzzle table having left your puzzle pieces back home. Even worse, is not realizing you have pieces to contribute, leaving holes in the picture. Restarting and going to search after the meeting would cost the student time. Remember, time is a variable. If everyone is doing their investigating before they arrive, they are well prepared at the table to discuss how the pieces fit together. This minimizes the time it requires to answer many of the unknown questions and shrinks blind spots. There will always be additional questions to be answered. The more proactive and creative you can train your BIT members to be, the more puzzle pieces you will uncover, increasing the accuracy of your assessment and intervention.
This analogy is of course assuming your BIT leadership is organized, proactive, and communicates the individual students who will be supported in the upcoming meeting. To follow this analogy further, we know you will be working on multiple puzzles in the room, prioritizing each one based on severity. You will be asked to unpack what you know about each one individually. The BIT’s ability to be effective case managers will require the BIT to actively manage this work. BIT leadership proactively schedules meetings, sends agendas, takes notes, determines action items, lists follow up questions, assigns points of contact, works collaboratively, and thoroughly documents all while not losing sight of the progress and forward momentum that occurred in the previous meeting. Prep-work includes forward-looking effort done by all members of the BIT, especially leadership. Perhaps the pre-work is needed training and ongoing process development. If it has been a while or you have not yet done so, I would recommend a BIT assessment based on the CORE-Q10 Assessment of a Behavioral Intervention Team and/or review of the NABITA Standards for BITs. Maybe it is tightening up the accountability of each individual team member and the information their department has the potential to more consistently provide.
I once heard a pilot share with me his perspective on flying. He said it is important to “stay ahead of the plane.” Knowing the depth and breadth of resources NABITA provides, I would encourage everyone on the BIT to do their homework and continually go through their systems check. Thinking days and weeks ahead of the situation rather than minutes will better prepare you for the unexpected. This includes thinking of the wellness of those serving some of your most vulnerable students. Look out for your team members as well! Be prepared and proactive on how you will manage employee turnover and burnout. What are the redundancies you can or have implemented to prevent critical failure within your BIT? Appreciating the skills, knowledge, and experience of a veteran team member is often realized after they no longer serve on your BIT. Ensure you do not lose all that institutional knowledge they hold by capturing each team member’s best practices and include such in your BIT handbook for future training materials.
Ok, I have done enough preaching to the choir. You are reading this and that alone means you are looking ahead. Keep up the great work and take a moment to celebrate how far you have come. Part of prep work includes knowing where you are and where you want to go.
Here are a few takeaways to help you with your next steps and BIT meeting productivity:
- Plan and come to BIT meetings prepared with as much relevant background information as possible
- Know each member’s roles and responsibilities, documenting them in your BIT handbook
- Tighten individual and departmental accountability on outward reporting
- Train new members with onboarding
- Use your resources and data
- Catalog/record knowledge, as your BIT matures and learns, in your BIT handbook
- Take care of your team members
- Fly ahead of the plane, do a system check looking days, weeks, and months ahead
- Review and explore NABITA’s CORE-Q10 BIT Assessment and NABITA Standards for BIT