Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) is an approach to teaching and supporting positive behaviors and meeting the needs of ALL students. PBIS is a different way of handling discipline. PBIS is proactive, educative, and reinforcement based. The ultimate goal of PBIS is to create a safe and productive environment where educators can teach and all students can learn without disruption. This does not mean that students are no longer punished for inappropriate behaviors. PBIS practices are currently taking place in grades 4-12 throughout the district. As part of the PBIS initiative our schools have defined a set of school-wide expectations and rules for behaviors in all areas of the school which are posted throughout the school. All students will be explicitly taught these behavioral expectations through school developed lesson plans that include examples and non-examples of the specific expectation being addressed.
You may be asking yourself, do we really have time to teach behavior in addition to all of the other responsibilities and requirements? Well let’s take a look at just how much time our district is losing each year as a result of dealing with discipline issues. On average, according to the Georgia Department of Education, an office referral consumes 15 minutes of the teacher’s time, 30 minutes of an administrator’s time, and 45 minutes of the student’s time. According to the data last year grades 6-12 had a total of 11,890 office discipline referrals! That is a whopping total of 6.2 years of time lost on discipline!!! So I ask, should we make time to teach behavior? When thinking about PBIS please keep in mind the following quote by Tom Herner:
“If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach.”
“If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach.”
“If a child doesn’t know how to multiply, we teach.”
“If a child doesn’t know how to drive, we teach.”
“If a child doesn’t know how to behave, we……….teach?………punish?”
“Why can’t we finish the last sentence as automatically as we do the others?”
Why is it so important to focus on teaching positive social behaviors?
You may be asking yourself, “Why should I have to teach kids to be good? They already know what they are supposed to do. Why can I not just expect good behavior?” To quote Dr. Phil, “How is that working out for you?”
In the past, school-wide discipline has focused mainly on reacting to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies including reprimands, loss of privileges, office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. Research has shown time and time again that the implementation of punishment, especially when it is used inconsistently and in the absence of other positive strategies, is ineffective. Introducing, modeling, and reinforcing positive social behavior is an important step of a student’s educational experience. Teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is a much more positive approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur before responding. The purpose of school-wide PBIS is to establish a climate in which appropriate behavior is the norm.
What Does This Mean For Staff?
All staff need to recognize and acknowledge children who are following the school-wide expectations.