PBIS-Four letters that can evoke different thoughts and feelings from teachers, leaders, students and parents. If implemented well-it works. If not-stakeholders are left with a bad taste of the system of supports that was not fully explained or fully implemented.
PBIS is more than tickets and parties, it is a prevention based school wide approach to looking at student behavior in parts: teaching behavioral expectations, acknowledging students for appropriate behavior, consistent discipline and team-mangaged data based decision making.
At Woodson we have been utilizing this system of supports for five years. During these years we have changed and evolved many aspects of the primary tenants of PBIS to meet the continued need of students and staff.
- Teaching behavioral expectations. The uniqueness of a Kindergarten Center brings such an open canvas to our campus every year. Students come to us from in-home daycare, preschools, homeschool and stay at home settings. Woodson’s average enrollment has been around 380 students in the past 5 years. Our demographics continue to provide more intricacy in the landscape of our school community. Over 30% of our school community speaks a primarily language that is not english in their homes, 60% of our students come from a level of poverty that our teaching staff did not experience growing up.
With this in mind the PBIS leadership team reviews our student matrix every year and makes changes that align with student needs. The matrix is then shared with all stakeholders at the Back to School parent conferences with student and parent.
- During the first 10 days of school teachers explicitly teach this matrix is a very systematic way. Each environment of the school has a written lesson plan of the expectations (written in a positive way), what it looks like, and has accompanying social stories and videos to enhance the background knowledge of all students.
- Teachers review the component of the lesson with the other teachers on their team and discuss how best to implement lesson with incoming class.
- During the first 10 days of school significant time is dedicated to teaching, reteaching and reinforcing these lessons in the natural setting (i.e. yes we go to the bathrooms for the bathroom lesson).
- We utilize our Success Coaches to individualize these lessons in native languages whenever we can to support foundational understanding in primary language of our students.
- At the end of the first week of school we have an all-school assembly to recognize the hard work that has been accomplished in learning these expectations and overview how school assemblies will work for the rest of the school year.
- Acknowledging students for appropriate behavior. Admit it-we all appreciate knowing that we are doing a great job. You don’t have to be 5 years old, 12, 16 or even 40 to appreciate a compliment, a word of encouragement or a note of appreciation. PBIS helped our team put consistent supports in place to first help us recognize each other as learning adults and secondly to recognize students.
- Since the start of PBIS we have used “Staff Positive Behavior” tablets spread throughout the school. All staff can write a brief,specific shout out to another staff member for something specific they did. At the end of every month the PBIS team draws 4-5 winners for prizes (parking spot, early out, coffee card, book, etc) and announces the winners via email. All tickets are then given to the people recognized. It is amazing the power of a few words can have on an adult. I frequently walk around the building and see these hanging above people’s desks. Never underestimate the power of a few positive words towards each other.
- Critter Cards. These things are like gold at Woodson. All staff (including bus drivers) have these on hand and give to students for specific acts of positive behavior. At the beginning of the year we review how/when you give these out and talk about classroom and building wide incentives that are tied to these recognition cards. Students will come off the bus holding these and can articulate why the bus driver gave them the card. Parents come in smiling because their son/daughter have shared some great news from home. My younger son (who is now going into 4th grade) still has these cards in his room as a reminder of the awesome things he accomplished in kindergarten.
- Character Count Assemblies. Every month we review the Character Counts Pillars. This is done through either a role play or skit created and acted out by myself and the school social worker. At the end of the skit we take time to recognize a student from every class who has demonstrated great skills in the pillar for the month. Pictures from all the assemblies are then put in the monthly display cabinet as well as on our in-house TV announcements.
- The Caring Bear. During these monthly assemblies we also take time to recognize a staff member with a Care Bear (yep we have one). The bear has a backpack and journal inside so we can record where the bear has been and memories from that staff member’s recognition. Prior to the next assembly the current staff member writes up a few words for the next recognized staff member and presents it to them during the assemblies. It is a very heartwarming and memorable experience for all students and staff.
- Consistent discipline. This is a hard one. Being consistent every day in every situation can be a challenge for even the most seasoned of teachers. By having a matrix that is reviewed throughout the year as well as having consistent conversations about behavior in multiple forums can help to support the foundation of consistent responses to behavior.
- Talk, talk, talk about it. We have multiple places staff can debrief about situations. PBIS leadership team, team meetings, RtI meetings, planning meetings with support staff, as well as crisis team meetings with administration present. We have PBIS on every one of our staff meetings so as things arise there is an open forum to discuss challenges as well as successes.
- Ensure all stakeholders know the deal…up front. By sharing the matrix with parents, students and staff we all are aware of the expectations in our school and can hold each other accountable. If I do have to call home for an issue I have a very straightforward conversation about the behavior that was demonstrated and throughout that conversation I do my best to make sure the child is present. I hope that in those interactions they can see in my face and hear in my voice that I care about them so much that I want them to demonstrate high expectations for themselves and those around them. I also try to connect with any student who has an office referral right away the next day and connect with them on a positive level to continue to support that we are all learning in this journey.
- Team-managaged data based decision making. PBIS is not a program, nor a one man show. Leadership is important, but ensure you have many voices at the table is equally important. Having a diverse representation of stakeholders that see the impact of PBIS in every setting helps to make systems stronger and to proactively address gaps that may appear during the course of the year.
- Schedule and honor meetings. Our leadership team meets one Wednesday a month when no other meetings are occurring. I am always present as well as the behavioral interventionist and school social worker. The key to sustaining PBIS is never diminishing every team members role in ongoing implementation.
- Be consistent and clear with decision making. With 16 Kindergarten classes consistency could never be more important. We utilize OneNote as an online system to record agenda items, create new social stories for environmental needs, and to share out positive news. PBIS leadership team members then use this agenda back at their team meetings and type in more things to think about or their responses to questions posed out to the building as a whole. Being as transparent as possible allows trust and deeper commitment to all kids and the success of PBIS.
Well-have we sold you on this yet? Please contact me via twitter @JessicaCabeen if you have any questions-but if you are even remotely considering PBIS here are a few additional resources that might help in your decision making.
http://www.pbisworld.com/ Great, specific tools and interventions for all ages.
http://www.pbismn.org/ Minnesota PBIS-has some great initial buy-in surveys and guides.
http://www.pbis.org/ National Organization for PBIS
Keep Dream Big for Our Littlest Learners!