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What is a PBIS lesson plan?

Ryan CrawleyJune 16, 2022

What is a PBIS lesson plan?

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based practice that has been used by educators throughout the country for close to two decades now. With that said, there are still plenty of school districts that may just be getting on board with implementing PBIS and understanding how it can change behavior for the better with students. 

The goal of this framework is for the school staff to use encouraging positivity to promote students’ best behavior. When the students are exhibiting exemplary conduct, they are rewarded with tickets or tokens that they can then trade in at a later date for rewards or prizes supplied by the school. 

While it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the use of disciplinary measures, depending on the seriousness of the infraction, PBIS is meant to greatly reduce the frequency of these incidents. Through positive reinforcement, it is the hope that students learn to always display their best conduct and exhibit less negative behavior in the long term. 

The three tiers

There are three tiers to PBIS that school districts adhere to when instituting their program. (However, keep in mind, no two PBIS programs will look alike. There is a flexibility that allows administration and staff to make tweaks here and there depending upon their needs.) It is important that, at the beginning of the school year, teachers create lesson plans that establish PBIS rules and inform students of what is expected from them. 

Tier 1

Tier 1 is meant to address the entire student body. It is the foundation of a strong PBIS initiative. In Tier 1, a schoolwide guide of rules and core behaviors are put into place for staff to educate the students on so they realize what is expected of them. These regulations are usually decided upon by a core group of teachers and administrators and handed down to the rest of the staff. Typically, if championed correctly so that both the faculty and students apply and adhere to these standards, 85% of the student population can be expected to comply and no longer face severe punishment or detentions. 

While there are plenty of assortments of PBIS lesson plans, depending upon the district, here is an example of a PBIS lesson plan for Tier 1:


Students will learn proper behavior in the hallways of the school.


Brainstorm with the students to figure out what is acceptable conduct in the hallways and what is not.

Materials needed

This could include videos as an example of proper behavior, smartboard presentation, whiteboard for discussion, or any other material that will benefit the discussion. 

Activities for learning

The teacher may decide to use role-playing with the students or even simple multiple-choice questionnaires. 


To ensure the students are understanding the PBIS goal, the teacher could choose to give a true/false test to determine if the students are understanding the objective. 

Discuss positive reinforcement

The key aspect of PBIS is to use positive reinforcement through reward to promote positive behavior. Instruct the students on how their positive behavior will result in compensation (this will most likely be tickets or tokens, but not in all cases). 

Tier 2

Tier 2 lesson plans are put in place to address those who are not quite on board with meeting behavior expectations yet, which is usually about 15% of the student body. 

These students are at higher risk, but because of the typical size of a Tier 2 group, lesson plans can be created for a relatively smaller group of students. The teacher, or even the PBIS council, will be able to develop lesson plans focusing on behavior that appears on a more individual level. 

Many of the behaviors that indicate a need for Tier 2 or 3 interventions can arise from emotional and behavioral disorders, developmental disabilities, or learning differences. However, it is important to keep in mind that some of these students will have an IEP or a 504 in place that will dictate what strategies and measures are necessary. The PBIS team can discuss whether it’s best to pursue tier-based interventions or focus on following the student’s IEP or 504.

An example of a Tier 2 PBIS lesson plan may look something similar to this: 


The student will display less disruptive behavior.

Mentor for students

A guidance counselor or administrator will meet briefly with the students twice a week to help keep them on track and answer any questions or concerns. In other words, this can be someone who will meet with the student often to ensure they are trying their best to work toward the goal.


Brainstorm with students to help them figure out alternative ways to deal with frustration. Create a checklist for the students to follow when they are faced with situations that may unsettle them. 


Determine ways to gauge the success or failure of the students trying to overcome this problem. 

Positive reinforcements

Identify how often the students will be rewarded with positive reinforcement for their commitment to overcoming this challenge. 

PBIS committee

After a period of time has passed, the PBIS committee can decide whether each individual student should continue with Tier 2 interventions, should be placed in a Tier 3 PBIS group, or if they are doing so well that they can be moved to Tier 1 instruction. 

Tier 3

Tier 3 PBIS is meant for the relatively smaller number of students who experience more significant learning or behavioral difficulties. For every 100 students in the school district, Tier 3 may only be for one or two of these kids. This tier is designed to offer highly intensive individualized support. 

Goal or problem to be addressed

Highly disruptive behavior that requires significant remediation or accomodation.

Mentors for student

This should include the school guidance counselor, an administrator, and a therapist that is not employed by the school. An outside perspective from another professional can bring about new ideas.

Determine factors that contribute to student behavior issues

PThe need for intensive support may be due to family background and home life, developmental disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, or a variety of other factors.

Brainstorm discussion

As this is an intensive support program, there could be an assortment of ideas to help remedy the behavioral problems. This may include providing more dedicated space for the student’s learning, checklists, a special aide for the student, meetings with parents, or anything else that can help. 


Determine how long the Tier 3 PBIS interventions will be in place before it is determined if they are working or if a new approach or solution is needed.. 

Positive reinforcements

How will the student be rewarded through positive reinforcement if their behavior is improving? Tickets or tokens? More time allowed back in the regular classroom if appropriate? A variety of behavioral reward approaches are possible.

PBIS committee

When enough time has passed, the PBIS committee — along with the school counselor, administrator, and therapist — will meet with the parents and the student to determine the next steps. Have there been positive changes or is further support needed? 

It’s a learning process

These are, of course, just a few examples of PBIS lesson plans. Each student deserves a plan that is built around their unique needs. As time goes on, everyone involved will be able to adjust areas of the lesson plan depending upon the behavior issues they are noticing. It is a learning process, but it won’t be long before the teachers, staff, parents, and specialists will feel comfortable with adjusting the approach here and there when needed. 

Photo credit : Google Education


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