It is a privilege to partner with the CSRA RESA districts to improve school climate through Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). PBIS is a data-driven framework allowing schools to address student behavior and improve school climate within the context of their own unique needs as determined by their data.
For districts implementing PBIS, I look forward to assisting District PBIS Coordinators in their role of supporting and coaching school teams. For districts considering PBIS implementation, I will be glad to help with readiness and planning activities to prepare a good foundation and awareness of PBIS. There is much confusion about PBIS which may prevent the whole staff from embracing what they perceive as “another program.” I have listed some of the misconceptions below which I believe are most common among educators.
Misconception #1 - PBIS is all about giving students rewards.
PBIS advocates teaching students behavioral expectations, practicing those behaviors, and recognizing when students meet the expectation. This does not mean students need a reward every time they make a good choice. Acknowledgment alone is a powerful motivating tool both inside and outside the classroom. Even adults are empowered to improve their performance at work when their bosses recognize their achievements.
Misconception #2 - PBIS is complicated and will require an enormous amount of paperwork.
PBIS brings together best practices that schools should already be doing into a cohesive, logical framework. RTI, Restorative Practices, and Special Education interventions fit naturally with PBIS and can often be more effective when connected. Although it requires staff buy-in, it can also mean working smarter not harder.
Misconception #3 - PBIS quickly changes a school environment.
PBIS recognizes that changing student behavior and improving school climate takes time. Tier I implementations alone can take 3-5 years. PBIS allows our students to express their needs and creates a safe environment where they can become an active member of their school community. There is no magic potion, just steady and consistent practices within a supportive framework.
Misconception #4 - PBIS is just another set of boxes to check.
PBIS utilizes evaluation processes to ensure fidelity and improve results, not to add to a school’s list of things to do. The tasks required bring meaning and cohesion to the systematic improvement of school culture. Parts of the process are self-reflective and involve most of the staff. The key is whether we choose to make it meaningful in our schools. School culture is impacted by attitude, which is one of the few things within our control.
Misconception #5 - PBIS is about removing students’ consequences.
PBIS teams consistently analyze discipline data and create immediate action plans to address current behavioral patterns. The goal is not to remove consequences, but instead to ask what will get us better results? We seek to find practical solutions that maintain student-staff relationships, teach skills, and give students an opportunity to improve their behavior. When we teach students appropriate behaviors consistently and provide them with a chance to practice, our approach becomes proactive, instead of reactive.