More and more school districts are adopting an evidence-based Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program to promote student behavior support through positive reinforcement. When making the transition from typical rule enforcement to positive behavior intervention, it’s essential to have a strong plan in place.
If your school district is currently introducing a PBIS program to help with problem behaviorand student conduct, or if your current PBIS plan needs an overhaul, here are different componenets to build around when creating the perfect positive behavior reinforcement program.
Create a PBIS team
The PBIS team will lead the way in facilitating schoolwide and classroom change. This is where most of the important decisions will be made and handed down for the staff to hopefully jump on board and follow.
Depending upon the district — since every PBIS program is at least slightly different than the rest — you may have anywhere from five to ten members on the PBIS team.
School administrator: A principal or other administrator should be in a leadership position, as PBIS will involve decisions to be made at the schoolwide level.
School counselor: When dealing with strategies on improving student conduct, the school counselor may have training on the matter than anyone else in the school. Use this person to determine ways to approach the use of positive reinforcement for behavior.
Grade-level teacher: Each grade level should be represented by one of its teachers. This teacher will be able to express the most common issues the students are having with conduct at that age level.
Parent representative: It is essential to get the parental support needed for a strong PBIS program. Many parents will choose to follow a similar program at home if they are educated on how to do so.
Team leader: A team leader will be needed to set agendas, meetings, create a schedule, and essentially keep the team on track at all times.
One of the key components of a successful PBIS program is sufficient buy-in among the school staff. They will be the ones implementing it on a daily basis both in and out of the classroom. If they are not accepting of such a program, it will not have the support or effectiveness that it needs.
Review the data
As always, the data for an issue should be analyzed to help determine solutions to problems. Identify which behaviors need to be addressed specifically for the school district. What are the issues and conduct problems that are arising most often? A review of the conduct issues’ data for the last five years would be handy in organizing ideas on what needs to be improved. Once the data has been reviewed, it should lead to a set of rules and guidelines that will help change the school climate for the better.
Professional development on PBIS
It can be difficult for a school teaching staff to contribute their best effort and skill to a program if they don’t have the resrouces and support that they need. They have a lot on their plate already, and adding more might feel a bit overwhelming for them.
For the staff to accept PBIS, they must be fully educated on it. This will mean having at least a couple of professional development days to educate the staff on what they must do to make PBIS successful. If the staff feels they do not know enough about a program, they will be less likely to fully do their part in implementation.
Having a ten minute presentation will not be enough. There should be complete guides printed and available for all staff, in addition to the discussions that take place during the professional development days. The more knowledge the staff accumulates, the better.
Introducing the key behaviors
When beginning a PBIS program, all students must be taught the key behavior expectations that the progam is designed to help them meet. Many of the students may not have the right behavior support from parents at home, so it’s important that the behavior is established and modeled for them in the school environment.
Educators must go beyond simply asking students to be on their best behavior. Students will be best prepared to succeed when expectations are clear and easy to understand. The key behaviors that are going to be emphasized by the staff to the students will typically be determined by the PBIS team and handed down to the teachers. It would be wise to compose a set of these guidelines and send them home as well so that parents can be engaged in the aims of the program.
How is your district going to approach the reward system for reinforcing positive behaviors? This is another avenue of PBIS that can differ from one district to the other. For instance, some districts will distribute tickets or tokens as a reward for behavior that can then be used in the school PBIS store. Other schools may favor the point system and award points to the students that can be viewed online. It depends on the needs and the goals of this district.
A fully stocked PBIS store
When students are rewarded with tickets or tokens for their behavior, this currency is only as valuable to them as what is available in the PBIS store. In order to ensure engagement and consistent enthusiasm for the program, it’s important to devote sufficient resources to the store so that it is well-supplied and relevant to the students. Otherwise, disappointment can lead to diminished student buy-in and poor behavioral outcomes. A fully stocked PBIS store, either physical or online, is necessary to keep the enthusiasm for PBIS high.
The district is choosing to use PBIS to facilitate better behavior and experience fewer conduct issues. But what is the final goal? Do you want to reduce detentions by 50%within five months? Do you want to decrease the number of students that frequently display problem behaviors? In addition, when setting goals, it’s not enough to be looking solely at the negative numbers and percentages. How are you going to determine that using PBIS is making the district better as a whole? This is something that will be determined by the PBIS team. Be sure to keep the goals realistic and trackable.
Analyze end-of-year data
A PBIS program should not be a one-year commitment. It should be the beginning of something that is kept in place long-term. It will, of course, require consistent improvement in order to produce the best possible results. Analyze end-of-year data and figure out ways to improve PBIS in the district. This should be done year after year, and it will hopefully produce even better results as time goes on.
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