As the new school year kicks off with shiny new school supplies and big plans for the year, it’s also a good time to begin changing your school culture and climate. Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, can help your school chart a new path toward improved behavior, effective social and emotional learning, and increased academic success.
A PBIS initiative can be complex, however. As in the fable of the tortoise and the hare, keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race. Begin intentionally and keep your goals in focus as you move through the school year. While there are easily a dozen critical elements in a PBIS initiative, focusing on PBIS basics at the beginning of the school year will help you get off to a good start.
PBIS Basics to Begin the School Year
It’s helpful to focus on PBIS basics when you begin a PBIS initiative at the start of a school year. Keep it simple in the beginning. Your staff and students need to be on board with PBIS – buy-in is an important part of your initiative’s success.
While this isn’t a full rundown of everything you need for PBIS, it’s a great place to begin.
A schoolwide behavior matrix is an expression of the values and behaviors you expect to see from your students in all areas of your school. Your behavior matrix is the foundation for positive behavior. Keep it simple – three to five core behavioral values that are easy to remember. Many schools use an acronym for these principles. That acronym translates into specific behaviors in the common areas of the school.
A Means for Recognizing Positive Behaviors
As students exhibit the positive behaviors outlined in your schoolwide matrix, you’ll want to acknowledge their actions. This is where a token economy can be especially helpful, as it gives students a tangible way to understand the connection between actions and recognition.
As students accumulate tokens or points, you’ll want to close the acknowledgment-recognition-reward loop by providing incentives. Whether you choose to operate a full, physical school store or a virtual store that offers non-tangible incentives like privileges and events, a PBIS store can help encourage excitement and buy-in amongst your students.
Keeping track of behavior data, office discipline referrals, staff buy-in, and all the other data points a PBIS initiative generates requires lots of record-keeping. Accuracy is important, and a system of reporting allows you to share how your initiative is doing. This data will help you to adjust your initiative as the year progresses.
Developing a team of individuals who assess and manage your initiative is important for success. The input they receive from other staff members, as well as the data generated by the initiative, will help them to make adjustments for the betterment of all stakeholders.
Communication With Home
Involving families in your PBIS initiative will help students to practice positive behaviors outside the school. Parents and guardians can take an active role in reinforcing these behaviors. They also can be notified if their student is struggling with meeting the behavioral goals established by the schoolwide matrix. Families want to hear about the positive behaviors their students exhibit. Don’t overlook the power of a positive phone call home!
Begin With the End in Mind
As you settle into the school year, you can expand your initiative’s focus beyond Tier 1 and work with students who need additional supports and interventions. How you begin is important – start with PBIS basics and build from there. By the time the end of the year rolls around, you’ll have an awesome school culture by making PBIS an integral part of your school.
PBIS Rewards helps schools to more accurately manage their PBIS initiative. Our software suite enables staff to easily acknowledge positive behaviors anywhere, any time. The system tracks data and provides numerous reports to help you adjust your initiative throughout the school year. With separate apps for students and families, it’s a full suite of tools that can take your initiative from campus to home and reinforce positive behaviors everywhere. We’d love to show you how it works – just contact us for more information or request a demo!