By Terese Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter
Positive Behavioral Support helps parents and schools create and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment, encourages positive life skills and reduces negative behavior.
PBS focuses both upon the interaction of a student’s disruptive or counterproductive behavior and upon the learning environment. Except in situations where the safety of others is directly threatened, PBS has proven generally more effective than punitive discipline strategies such as suspension and expulsion. PBS programs can effectively address issues, such as preventing bullying, developing social skills, improving emotional resiliency, and building self-discipline.
What is PBS?
Positive Behavior Support focuses on making problem behaviors less attractive to students. Teachers, parents and student observations are used in designing a plan that helps improve a student’s behavior. Data about the student’s behavior is then collected. This helps parents and teachers evaluate whether the student’s behavior has improved or whether further adjustments to the behavior improvement plan are needed.
Levels of PBS
- Schoolwide (primary) intervention. Schoolwide intervention is a preventative approach that seeks to avoid problem behaviors. This usually involves developing a school climate and culture that increases student safety and improves the educational environment. Schoolwide interventions are implemented throughout the school, including the classrooms, cafeteria, gym and playground. Schoolwide interventions provide consistent behavioral expectations that make disruptive and counterproductive behaviors less attractive to students.
- Classroom (secondary) Intervention. Not all students will respond to schoolwide interventions. A secondary behavior intervention focuses more specifically upon a smaller number of students who may need more assistance. These students may be “at risk” because they have a higher incidence of problem behaviors than expected. At this level, students may receive instruction in small groups about appropriate behaviors in various school settings or about improved social skills and solving social problems.
- Individual (tertiary) Intervention. A few students in schools may continue to behave in a manner that interferes with their own education or that may be disruptive to other students. When this occurs, such students may need individual intervention to help them behave in accordance with school rules. Such students may be placed on a Behavior Intervention Plan that is jointly developed by the school administrators, teachers and the student’s parents.
Often, a Functional Behavioral Assessment is completed before the Behavior Intervention Plan is written so that the team members have some information about the student to help guide them in writing the BIP. A Functional Behavior Assessment gathers observations about the student’s behavior and motivations from parents, teachers and the student as a basis for developing a Behavior Intervention Plan appropriate for the individual student.
A role for parents
Parent involvement in all aspects of their student’s educational planning has been consistently shown to be a major factor in a student’s success. When parents are actively involved in the educational activities of their children, their children are more successful in school, particularly when there are behavioral concerns. Parent communication with the school and parent participation in school activities provides important academic and behavioral support for a student and encourages a healthy school climate.
Parents can help
Parents contribute to developing a positive school climate by participating in their student’s intervention team. At home, parent discussions help their children understand that the school’s behavioral rules can make school a happier, safer and more productive place for everyone. Parents can also help by volunteering for school activities so that students realize that their parents take education seriously.
Support at home for the school’s behavioral rules adds consistency for students. If your student is part of a classroom or individual behavior plan, then your involvement as parents is very important. Most importantly, celebrate school successes with your students at home. This helps students believe that positive behavior is appreciated at school, at home and in the community.
This column is presented by the National School Psychologists Association and Dr. Terese Lipinski Kashi, NCSP, 2009-10 president of the Alaska School Psychologists Association.