PBIS: Positive Behavior for Learning

What is PBIS?

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) is a model for creating positive school environments that support the needs of all students and staff. For some schools, PBIS will enhance their current systems and student practices. For others, PBIS will radically change the culture for the better.

How does it work?

Staff and students enter school buildings with different ideas of what is considered appropriate behavior. In order for students to understand the behavior expectations, they must be taught. But prior to teaching students, the staff must developed shared agreements of their expectations. The instruction of expected behaviors is similar to any company providing orientation for new staff. We teach in order to prevent problem behavior. Fairness dictates that we do the same for all students.

  • If a child doesn't know how to swim, we teach.
  • If a child doesn't know how to ride a bicycle, we teach.
  • If a child doesn't know how to drive, we teach.
  • If a child doesn't know how to behave in school, we punish.

Everything that is important in a child's life, we always teach them first. As important as education is to a child's future, school staff cannot assume that a child knows how to behave in school. They must be taught. 

With PBIS implementation, if a child does not readily demonstrate the expected behaviors, schools do not view this as an opportunity to punish. In fact, this is an opportunity to re-teach the expected behaviors. In this way, we are able to support students that struggle with behavior in the same way that we support students that struggle with reading and math.  

Does it make a difference?

PBIS is implemented in more than 1000 schools in North Carolina. As evidence of positive results has grown, PBIS implementation has spread across the country. In fact, PBIS implementation grown internationally to countries such as Turkey, Greece, Norway, Australia, Germany, and Romania.  Within Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, there are many PBIS success stories involving individual students as well as entire schools. Currently, 15 schools in our district have been recognized by the state for their success with implementation. These schools have reduced student suspensions and increased instructional time.

What about students that are disruptive?

School Leadership Teams develop a documented discipline system that is integrated with the district’s Code of Conduct. When problem behavior occurs, students are provided with a full continuum of supports to address the behavior. If students do not respond, the intensity of the support increases. Most problem student behaviors either have an academic or social base. Properly addressing the root causes of behavior can prevent student failure later in life.

What about parents?

Parents are an important part of PBIS implementation. Schools encourage parents to use the same expectations and rules that the school teaches. This common language creates consistency and unified support for expected student behavior.  Parents are asked to discuss the common rules and expectations and post them at home for easy reference. Children thrive when they have consistent, predictable expectations and consequences.

Is PBIS new?

The concept of PBIS has been researched in education for over 20 years. PBIS is based upon sound educational practices grounded in psychological and sociological theory. PBIS was first implemented in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in 2004. It was reintroduced in the 2015-2016 school year. The state of North Carolina views PBIS as the behavioral component of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support(MTSS) process.

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