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Why the different components of PBIS are important

Sara AustinMay 5, 2022

PBIS Classroom

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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Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations

Developing a successful PBIS program doesn’t happen by accident. In How to Create a Successful PBIS Initiative, we explored eight components needed to implement a PBIS program successfully. These components include: establishing a winning PBIS team, getting buy-in from staff, setting clear objectives, defining positive behaviors, developing a reward system, conducting ongoing evaluation, addressing students’ mental health, carrying out training and development, and maintaining consistency in practice and application.

Keeping these eight factors in mind as you develop your program will help you get the outcomes you seek. This article will discuss why each of those components is important.


As you might imagine, it takes a village to implement a PBIS program. Although the elements of PBIS may seem basic and easy to understand, everyone involved in the process must also understand the purpose and expectations of PBIS. A successful implementation depends on all stakeholders (administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and students) being on board.

Supporting PBIS is not just the work of teachers. Efforts to support PBIS in schools and classrooms require teamwork to succeed. It’s important for every member of the school community to know how to effectively recognize, promote, and reward positive behavior to motivate and inspire real and lasting change.

Your PBIS team should be representative of all stakeholders, with individuals from all levels taking part. From cafeteria workers to administrators, everybody has to pull together to create a culture that rewards positive behaviors and provides appropriate interventions when needed.


It’s also important to get buy-in from all stakeholders as you embark on a PBIS initiative. Implementing a PBIS program at the school, classroom, and individual levels can be a lot of work. You will need teachers, parents, and students to agree to the plan, understand their roles, and ensure everyone knows it’s a team effort. The members of your PBIS team can’t effectively implement the program without understanding what it is for and why it is important.

As much as we know that positive behavior interventions improve outcomes for students, getting buy-in from teachers and staff to implement yet another program can be tough. Teachers have a lot on their plates already. This is why the way that you teach and communicate about PBIS to these stakeholders is so important.

Clear objectives

As part of your PBIS behavior plans, you must develop clear, measurable, and observable objectives. The focus of the learning objectives should be behavioral — in other words, identifying the behaviors that will be taught and rewarded.

The following are examples of specific learning objectives:

  • By the end of this lesson, students will identify two positive ways to ask for help in class.
  • By the end of this school year, students will use good sportsmanship during recess and PE at least 90% of the time.

Many states include positive behavior objectives as part of their social and emotional learning, health and wellness, or citizenship learning objectives. When possible, you should align your school or classroom management PBIS goals with these objectives.

Defining positive behaviors

What does it mean to be polite? What does it look like to resolve conflict appropriately? It’s important that teachers, staff, and students all have a common understanding of what positive behaviors look like. Talk about examples of positive and negative behaviors when you observe or experience them.

Here are some simple examples of positive behavior that you can keep in mind:

  • When students arrive in the classroom, they greet their teacher and take their seats ahead of time.
  • Students raise their hands to ask questions instead of interrupting the lesson.

Once you decide what behaviors you’d like your students to exhibit, explain those behaviors to the entire class. Outline what positive behavior looks like, why it’s important, and how it can be taught so that everyone understands. If creating a list for each classroom, choose specific behaviors that are directly relevant to your students’ needs and learning environment.


A framework for rewards should be created to motivate students to behave in ways that support learning. Rewards can be tangible (e.g., a pencil, sticker) or intangible (e.g., attention, praise). The reward should be meaningful to the student and presented promptly by someone who is viewed positively by the student. Tangible rewards are most effective when they are symbolic (e.g., small amounts of candy or prizes), unexpected, and not too expensive.

Your PBIS rewards program is important because it motivates students to achieve. As you define positive behaviors, you must also tie them to rewards. Some schools award tokens or other currency that can be used in school stores, while others may offer privileges such as extra free time or a homework pass to motivate students.  

School stores can be used for both tangible and intangible items. Some schools have the space to keep a physical school store, while others may rely on smaller classroom shops or mobile stores. Virtual school stores are also available.

Classcraft is a platform for tracking and rewarding PBIS behaviors through gamification. Built on a framework of intrinsic motivation, Classcraft makes it easy for teachers and students to track their progress toward individual goals for learning and growth.


Your PBIS program should be continually evaluated for effectiveness, and adjustments should be ongoing in order to inform your efforts to identify and meet student behavior needs. These evaluations are best carried out daily in the classroom and can be tied to grading periods and year-end assessments.

Measuring outcomes is an important part of the function of any PBIS program. It’s vital to know how effective your program is and to use that information to improve.

It’s a good idea to collect data on what behaviors are being observed and what discipline decisions are being made by staff members throughout the school year. Collecting this data should be an ongoing process — if you only collect data at the beginning, middle, and end of the year, you’ll have less useful results.

Using your collected data, you can look at problem behavior in areas where more office referrals and suspensions are occurring than usual. By conferring with teachers and support staff, you can make recommendations for Tier 2 and 3 interventions and evaluate them over time using more observations or surveys.

Training and development

It’s best not to expect that teachers will immediately know how to support PBIS. Providing adequate training for staff and teachers will build a foundation of understanding for PBIS. Additionally, it will present you with ongoing opportunities to further develop strategies for supporting students and promoting positive behavior.

Teachers will need training on how to implement PBIS in the classroom, reinforce positive behavior, and deal with negative behavior. Your students will also need to be educated on PBIS principles.

PBIS training programs should be tailored to meet each school’s specific needs. This way, you can provide a variety of training and professional development opportunities for all school community members to support their implementation skills.


It’s important to start with a common understanding of the program, which will help ensure consistency at every level of the program. The core ideas of PBIS should be taught and learned across all grades, emphasizing evidence-based practices (EBPs). The following strategies should always inform your initiatives:

  • Have consistent policies and practices. All school staff should be using similar language and rules to teach expectations throughout the school day.
  • Have consistent language. Everyone should have a common set of words or phrases used to teach expected behaviors.
  • Ensure the program is implemented with fidelity — 0nce you get rolling, make sure it’s being done right. Ideally, this type of monitoring happens as part of your normal operations and not just when there are funding issues or compliance concerns.

Consistency is a key element of fascilitating any behavioral change. By consistently implementing the program, supporting students, and reinforcing positive behaviors, we help students to understand that positive behaviors are always expected. As teachers and administrators display an even-handed and consistent approach to shaping behavior, we can provide a powerful example of equity in action.  

In conclusion

Not every PBIS initiative succeeds, and that’s because it takes consistent, diligent, and thoughtful work every day to produce lasting results. Developing and implementing a PBIS program requires ongoing evaluation and observation in your department of education. As you train teachers and school staff to accurately identify problematic behaviors and provide them with a framework of interventions to support positive behaviors, you empower them to affect positive change that can transform the culture of schools and classrooms.  

Photo Credit: Google 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.

Download the guide now
Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations


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 the guide now
Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations