“I Used To Think…” with PBIS

Our second cohort of  school teams came today for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Intensive Training.   We changed it up a bit by having two superb administrators from a county middle school and elementary come to tell their PBIS “story” of implementation.    Much of our typical content delivery was woven into the message given by these two “pros” .  Nice change!

Our Work During The Day

Teams will be using PBIS Assessments and the Benchmarks of Quality  (BOQ) to progress monitor their school’s implementation.  After completing the BOQ electronically at their table, teams discussed their results.

They were given a bit of content covering the various components of PBIS implementation.  They had good conversations with their team to determine what they had in place and what they needed to add or “tweak”.  Action plans for every phase were documented.  This will be taken back to their school for input prior to our next session in one month.  They will end the three sessions with a detailed roll out plan that is unique to their building’s needs.

At the end of our first day, participants were asked for feedback about what did and didn’t work for them.  Additionally, we did the “I used to think” routine to help participants reflect upon how and why their thinking had changed after our first day.  Here are many of the responses:

used to


Teams were at variety of places in their implementation efforts thus far.   All teams were  experiencing many inconsistencies and “holes” in their current efforts.  Still, keeping the conversations rich and moving through the day was tricky considering everyone had different needs.  It was not always clear when to stop and start.  It seems someone’s experience would be jeopardized if we moved on; others needed to move on to maximize their day.  I suspect this is the teaching conundrum.  We will discuss ways to negotiate this in the future.

We will continue fine-tuning the context of their learning and  look forward to our next session in about one month!


Find a PBIS Assessment Coordinator

PBIS Assessment School Information Form

Thinking Routines


Thinking Through the Roadblocks: PBIS

Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) is a school-wide  framework that offers buildings the opportunity for culture change.  Implemented well, within a response to intervention (RTI) system that offers a wide array of creative, comprehensive options for academic and behavioral challenges, research on PBIS is promising.  It reduces the need for special education referrals.  It reduces the number of suspensions.

Most common misperceptions?  

  •  PBIS is all about extrinsic rewards.
  • All kids don’t “need” it, so why should we do it?

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

PBIS is a comprehensive framework that is most effective when embedded in the school’s improvement plan/goals AND in collaboration with an RTI model around academics.  The beauty of PBIS, really?

  • develops predictable routines in common areas
  • creates common language for staff and students
  • focuses on teaching routines/expectations instead of punishing
  • helps staff think through expectations for activities and procedures
  • helps administrators think through expectations of staff and students
  • keeps staff and administration communicating about their school culture
  • helps school teams develop alternatives to suspension

Reward systems are part of PBIS and research across many buildings indicate it works.  However, reward systems are only a small part of the bigger picture.  During our professional learning and implementation support, we encourage buildings to determine if this part is necessary for them.  If they are not comfortable with it, we help them implement without.  After all, if the data indicates the climate is fine, why tamper with what works for them?

PBIS is not needed for you?  This may be true for teachers who  are incredibly effective at building relationships.  Maybe you are consistent, positive and  able to manage all difficulties within your classroom.  But look around.  Is this true for every classroom in your building?  District?   Is it possible that your building or district needs it, despite your success?   The consistency, predictability  and routines that PBIS supports offer are vital for children who come from chaotic, unpredictable communities/homes.  Your demographics may not include these students.  They may, but you might be effective regardless.   Still, the benefits of PBIS done well are clear.  They work for everyone, everywhere.  This is about the building, not the individual teacher alone.

So, what does it take to become a high implementor of PBIS?

(1) Teacher commitment to the initiative needs to be developed and reinforced. Communication of guidelines and the rationale for practices could facilitate teacher buy-in. Systematic use of data to demonstrate the effectiveness of PBS practices was also linked to teacher buy-in.
(2) Clear implementation guidelines should be provided to all school staff through a structured system of professional development and information dissemination. The guidelines need to help teachers respond positively to an often diverse population of students. They also need to encourage consistent and appropriate implementation of the rewards system based on a shared understanding of PBS in the school.
(3) Systematic data collection and use allows teachers and administrators to monitor the nature, location, and frequency of smaller disciplinary infractions before they become larger issues.
(4) Including student input in data-based decision-making can be useful in addressing barriers associated with the rewards system, including selecting appropriate rewards and monitoring the consistency with which rewards are offered.
(5) PBS orientation/training for new and substitute teachers could increase the consistency of application within the school. Similarly, refresher training may be needed for more experienced teachers. However, given the limited resources for professional development and the experience of some teachers with PBS, creativity in how to provide the training – to whom, when, and in what format – will be needed.


Positive Behavior Support in Delaware Schools

Identifying Implementation Barriers and Facilitators in PBIS