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How to get started with PBIS training

Timothy MugabiFebruary 24, 2021

Teacher speaking while in a meeting with his colleagues

So, your school has decided to implement Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS)? Congratulations! Your next step is to develop a training and professional development plan. This will help you get buy-in from your staff and ultimately make the project a success.

One of the most significant obstacles to overcome is a feeling of incompetence. Your teachers and other faculty members might be wondering if they can make PBIS work. Remember, your staff is accustomed to a certain way of doing things — like disciplining and referring students — so a large part of the success of your fledgling PBIS initiative depends on your ability to help them adapt to this new method. 

Fortunately, creating a solid and well-thought-out PBIS training and development plan will go a long way to help your teachers and other staff feel at ease. Confidence often stems from competence, so if your faculty members know they’ll be supported throughout your ongoing implementation of PBIS, they’ll be far more likely to support it — which, naturally, increases its chances of success.

With all this in mind, here’s how you can get started with your PBIS training and development plan.

The five stages of PBIS training

There are five main stages to implementing a PBIS training and development plan:

Let’s take a closer look at each step.

1. Self-assess your current PBIS implementation

The first step is for you and your appointed PBIS leadership team to assess where you currently are with PBIS. This will help you determine your goals so you can formulate a step-by-step plan about how to achieve them.

To get you started, here’s a brief recap of PBIS’s multi-tiered prevention:

  • Tier 1: Universal instruction, designed for all students
  • Tier 2: Targeted instruction, for some students referred from Tier 1
  • Tier 3: Intensive, individualized instruction, for a limited number of students referred from Tier 2

Additionally, each tier has five stages of progression to help you measure how well you’re implementing PBIS:

  1. Exploration and adoption: Initial research and a commitment to implementation
  2. Installation: Designing and installing the necessary systems and tools for implementation
  3. Initial implementation: Implementing the most essential positive behavioral support plan 
  4. Full implementation: All behavior support systems of the tier are put into use
  5. Innovation and sustainability: The behavioral support systems within the tier are reviewed, and adaptations are made based on feedback and data

There are also a number of tools that will help you determine where your school climate currently fits in. 

School-wide Assessment Survey (SAS): This helps you evaluate your school’s behavioral support systems in four key areas:

  1. School-wide discipline systems
  2. Non-classroom management systems (cafeteria, hallways, etc.)
  3. Classroom management systems
  4. Systems for individual students with chronic, challenging behaviors  

School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET): Similar to the SAS, this is used to measure the effectiveness of your school’s current behavioral support systems across each academic school year.

Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI): Used to determine how well your school is implementing each tier of PBIS.

2. Self-assess current available resources

Once you know where you currently stand with your PBIS implementation and where you want to go, it’s time to begin devising your training plan. The first step is determining which resources your school has at its disposal for training and professional development. There are three main things to consider: 

1. Which of your staff has the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience needed to carry out the training?

Who on your faculty has the necessary expertise to train the rest of your staff? Don’t just assume these are your teachers — be sure to also consider administrative personnel, school counselors and psychologists, and coaches.

That being said, although a member of staff may have the necessary knowledge, they may not have all the skills needed to actually deliver the training. This means they may also need training in related skills like presentation and public speaking, as well as how to monitor progress and plan follow-up activities.

So, although this may take up more of their time, the upside is that they’ll also receive invaluable personal development that could aid their career in the future. 

If, after carrying out this skill audit, you find that your staff lacks the required knowledge, you’ll need to consult your PBIS district coordinator. This is the person appointed to oversee the implementation of PBIS throughout your entire district. The coordinator will help by looking at the skills available throughout the district and bring in a suitable trainer from a positive school culture that’s further along in the process.

 2. Your available financial resources

Look at your budget. How much can you allocate for your PBIS training plan? And based on your requirements, how much is it going to cost to implement?

If budget is a large consideration, you’ll have to prioritize which training you need most to help you achieve your school- and district-wide goals.

3. How much time do you need to carry out the training?

What’s your timeline?  How does it fit with the overall goals you have in place for your schools and districts? Money and time will help you to prioritize.

You will also need to consider how much time your staff has to take the training. This will help you schedule activities and training workshops accordingly to minimize interfering with their work.

3. Use assessment results to design your training and professional development plan

Now that you’re more aware of the resources currently at your disposal, and the expertise you’ll need to enlist, it’s time to start creating your PBIS training and development action plan. Watch our on-demand PBIS training webinar to learn how the specialists implement behavior management.

Things to incorporate in your plan include:

  • Name of training course or module
  • Course admin
  • Course enrollees
  •  Content
    •  Core content
    • Supporting materials and tools
  • Proposed start and end dates
  • Length and frequency of sessions
  • Methods
    • In-person, distance, self-paced learning, etc.
  •  Desired outcome
    •  How you’ll know the training has been successful
    • Applied behavior analysis
    • Metrics and benchmarks

Also, it’s crucial that the person conducting the training sessions track and assess the participants’ progress. This will keep everyone on track and ensure that staff who participate in the training program are working toward the desired outcome. However, the trainer will also need the means — and, if necessary, the training — to effectively monitor and assess the course for which they’re responsible.

4. Link your training plan to your district’s overall improvement plan

After drafting your PBIS training and professional development plan, it’s crucial to link it to your district’s overall improvement goals. These goals could be:

  • Increased attendance and/or instruction time
  • Fewer referrals
  • Higher grade-point averages
  • Whatever the focus of your district happens to be

It’s here that you’ll justify each part of your PBIS training plan to ensure it fits your district’s scope and objectives. This step ensures that every course or module has a purpose, but it also reveals any missing components.

5. Evaluate

This is the final part of your PBIS training plan: evaluation. This is where you assess whether your training and professional development efforts are successful and going according to plan.

If they are, fantastic! You can continue to proceed with the training plan, making small tweaks as needed. On the other hand, if they don’t appear to be as effective as you’d hoped, you’ll need to determine what has to be done to improve the quality of the training to achieve the desired outcome.

 The two most important factors when it comes to evaluation are:

  • What needs to be measured? This is related to the desired outcomes in your development plan. It forces you to reconsider how you and your school will work toward achieving those goals.
  • How will it be measured? What are your chosen benchmarks or metrics for measuring outcomes? You can use your selected benchmarks, as well as direct feedback from your staff, to make improvements to your plan.

Your plan will be a source of reassurance for your staff

Putting together a training and professional development plan can seem daunting at first, but it’s an important aspect of successfully implementing your PBIS initiative. A strong plan helps keep everything structured and gives your staff a clear roadmap. Even if it’s not initially perfect, your plan will be a source of reassurance and an excellent way to help galvanize your staff and make your PBIS initiative a success. Good luck!

Photo: Google for Education

Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations

Download your free PBIS implementation guide to access best practices and an implementation checklist to build a better program in your middle school.

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MTSS - PBIS - School & District Leadership - Virtual PBIS

Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations

Download your free PBIS implementation guide to access best practices and an implementation checklist to build a better program in your middle school.

Download now