Teachers, students, and administrators are facing unprecedented stress levels this year. Pandemic-related learning losses are proving difficult to mitigate, families are struggling financially, mental health problems are reaching epidemic levels, and teachers are caught in the middle of escalating political tensions and cultural flashpoints.
You may be wondering if there are strategies for promoting positive behavior and decreasing these negative stressors in your school to create a healthy environment for learning. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework has been used in schools to promote positive behaviors for 25 years.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a strategy for promoting positive behavior through interventions rather than discipline. If you are considering PBIS for your school, it can be informative to run through common questions that people ask about PBIS programs.
What if my school doesn’t have a “discipline problem”?
PBIS programs are purpose-built by individual schools and districts to promote the values and expectations of that unique student population. This means that all schools can benefit from a robust PBIS program. The focus of a school’s PBIS program should reflect its needs and values. Some schools don’t have issues with attendance or academic achievement but need a way to address bullying behaviors. Some school districts have students who are dealing with trauma or the impacts of poverty. These schools may focus on PBIS to build resilience or provide behavior support.
What will PBIS do for my school?
PBIS prevents disciplinary issues
Some people think PBIS is all about discipline, but the truth is that PBIS programs are intended to reduce the need for discipline. It is meant to provide discipline alternatives that promote positive behavior. PBIS is designed to promote a range of positive behaviors by defining expectations for conduct. If a student fails to meet these standards of behavior, the PBIS framework offers a pathway to address and correct the problem behavior. These pathways make it easier for teachers and admins to avoid the need for disciplinary action and nurture a positive school climate.
PBIS improves academic performance
As teachers consistently reinforce the positive behaviors described in the PBIS plan, students begin to display the types of behaviors that lead to better outcomes in the classroom. These positive behaviors — such as paying attention in class, taking responsibility for completing homework on time, and asking for help — give students a foundation to succeed in many areas of their lives.
PBIS offers a framework for behavioral expectations
With positive behavior interventions and supports in place, your teachers, students, and admin can have a shared understanding of positive and negative behaviors. Your school PBIS plan will articulate expectations while providing a framework for interventions. This approach offers an alternative approach to correcting and redirecting student behavior without relying on traditional and punitive disciplinary measures.
Do your students know what you expect from them in terms of behavior? For example, when you ask for good behavior, do your students know how you define that term? Your school’s PBIS program will define positive and negative behaviors so that these expectations are clear for students, teachers, and school community members.
PBIS contributes to a healthy learning community
Schools that implement a PBIS program help students develop the prosocial skills needed to build healthy relationships and become good citizens of the world. Teachers can provide consistency in the classroom, but students are also strongly influenced by their interactions and experiences outside the classroom. Unfortunately, not all students have access to healthy support systems outside of school or have role models to guide their development.
Schoolwide PBIS programs, implemented consistently and with fidelity in the classroom and throughout the school day, can serve as a great equalizer for students. In fact, some of your students will only have the opportunity to learn about and practice prosocial behaviors in your classroom.
Your school’s program can be designed to promote personal growth through the acquisition of conflict resolution strategies, social-emotional skills, and self-management skills. And, because these skills are all part of being a productive community member, the school becomes a happier, healthier, and safer learning environment for all.
How do I get started?
If you are ready to develop a PBIS program for your school, you may be wondering where to start. It is possible to find pre-built PBIS programs that offer general guidelines and recommendations for outcomes and interventions, but the best PBIS programs are customized to meet the specific needs of local students.
Our Middle School Administrator’s Guide to Implementing PBIS contains information you can use to develop a high-impact PBIS program that can transform your school.
With this guide, you will receive:
Best practices for PBIS implementation, including a program PBIS checklist
When designing a PBIS program for your school, you will need to create a program that meets the unique needs of your student population. To succeed, you will need to meet with stakeholders, solicit feedback, and build buy-in with everyone throughout the school — from the cafeteria staff to classroom aides. In the Middle School Administrator’s Guide to Implementing PBIS, you will find best practices for implementing your school’s program.
We also include a program checklist to guide you through the design and implementation process easily. With this PBIS checklist, you will learn about all the steps necessary to create a PBIS program that will develop tangible results for your school. In addition, our guide talks about how to define expectations, recruit your PBIS team, ensure consistency in the implementation of your program, motivate students to engage with the PBIS initiative, and use data to improve your program as it matures.
Key challenges to anticipate and how to overcome them
Even when you have your program running, sustaining any type of long-term program is still a lot of work. Implementing an effective schoolwide PBIS program requires careful planning and the willingness of all stakeholders to continue to engage and promote positive behaviors.
With the burden of pandemic-related learning losses teachers and administrators are already struggling. Therefore, it’s important to consider how to deliver and support a robust PBIS program that doesn’t create additional work for teachers.
Strategies for boosting teacher buy-in and student motivation
The success of schoolwide PBIS relies on teacher buy-in and student motivation. Therefore, your PBIS team must represent all the stakeholder groups your program will impact. In this way, you can design a program that is easily implemented by teachers without extra work, warmly received by students who recognize the inherent benefits of desired behaviors, and consistently applied by staff throughout the school.
Kids of all ages enjoy games, and the Classcraft PBIS platform offers a gamified rewards and goal tracking system that motivates students to engage and participate. Their system also makes tracking progress easy for teachers and lets students see their progress in real time, set personal goals for mastery of the PBIS objectives, and receive incentives that reward their efforts.
The importance of tracking and improving initiatives with strong data
PBIS frameworks are typically based on a multi-tiered system of defined expectations and clear guidelines of intervention and support. In order to address emergent behavioral issues before they escalate into bigger problems, teachers and administrators must be able to commit to ongoing evaluation of student needs.
PBIS programs cannot succeed by relying on just annual or even quarterly evaluations. Instead, morning check-ins give teachers the opportunity to collect useful data on how their students are doing. The data collected from this ongoing evaluation informs the appropriate next steps. In this implementation guide, you can learn more about how strong data can help you improve your PBIS program over time.
What PBIS success looks like in action, including case study examples
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports have a proven track record of success. Using Classcraft’s PBIS solution, administrators can develop a simple yet effective PBIS program for teachers to implement and support.
Our Middle School Implementation Guide includes case studies of real schools that have successfully implementing PBIS programs. For example, you will learn about how Broadview Middle School decreased the time spent on behavior by 80% and how East Paulding Middle School used PBIS to reduce disciplinary referrals by 85% in just a few short months.
To get started, download the Classcraft – Middle School Administrator’s Guide to Implementing PBIS.
Better middle school PBIS begins with better implementations
Photo Credit: Google Education