School culture is in a tough spot as we transition past pandemic-era education. According to The School Culture Report student behavior, disrespectful conduct, social-emotional skills, and teacher morale are all major obstacles to educators going into the next school year.
80% of administrators list school culture as their top priority, and If the teacher transitioning groups on LinkedIn are any indicator it would seem that teachers agree with that sentiment.
As the administrator in your building, you can be upset about how things are going. You can look at the national landscape for education and get frustrated. You can try to hold onto the status quo, you can treat high referral rates and high suspension rates as part of the job.
Or you can decide the buck stops with you in your building. You can be the change-maker you set out to be when you decided you wanted to become a principal. So how can you improve the behavior problem in your school while also improving morale?
You need to look at a positive approach to school discipline.
PBIS can be a great program to consider for schools looking to improve behavior, school culture, and morale. In our new reality in which mental health and social-emotional learning are front and center in education, we could all use a positive approach to school discipline.
The tiered approach can ease some of the strain on your admin team and student support staff, which can free them up to support your students the most in need.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to behavior in your building. PBIS is a tiered system of supports designed to differentiate between the level of support your students need.
So what are the key components of a PBIS approach? What resources does your school need to change the culture? The first resource you need to call on is one that is already in your building. Your staff will drive the change your school needs. You just need a framework to organize the road to get there.
You need to know the basics, keep reading for some helpful insights on what you need and what you can expect with implementation.
A team that is made up of representatives from all stakeholders in your community will create the shared sense of responsibility you need to enact change. Culture is a big rock, find some help to get it moving.
Your team will decide what it means to be a member of your school community. What do you value? What you strive for. What needs to change. From this, they will author a set of 3-5 expectations that your students will uphold everywhere in your school.
Your team will then apply your expectations to all the various locations in your building. This is where you can list the specifics that make behavioral success in the Cafe different from the Playground.
A new program is only as strong as the initial rollout allows it to be. Your students will be taught your program in a systematic fashion. You will teach your school-wide expectations by turning your behavior matrix into lesson plans.
Your expectations need to be tied to real-life metrics you can use to judge validity and efficacy. This can vary from school to school. You can use referrals initially, but to get the most out of your program you should consider a platform that enables your vision for school-wide values, staff and student relationships, and family engagement like LiveSchool.
The power to make your program an agent of change lies in your ability to protect time to analyze the data that is tied to your expectations. What is working? What isn’t? Who is it working for? Who is it not working for? Where is it working? Where is it not? Self scout your own strengths and weaknesses.
You and your team have looked at the data. What are we going to do about it? Utilizing your team to create an action plan for improvement allows you to take advantage of your best resources. Your Staff.
If your kids meet expectations this is where you reward them for doing so. This is also where you will put your improvement plan into action. Do what you say you will do. Hold yourself to high expectations on implementation and you’ll ace the follow-through.
Value your people. Help build your team and provide support when it is needed so they can be the change your building needs. The work won’t be completed tomorrow. Your building changes year to year and your team will need to be flexible to grow and rebuild with it.
I hope this post gives you a roadmap to making your PBIS program adaptable to your situation. Remember the goal: constant improvement and constant growth. You may look at nationwide trends and become discouraged, but big changes often start off as small changes.
Your building could be the change that sparks a nationwide trend of positivity in schools. We have tons of great resources here at LiveSchool to support you on your journey. Check out our PBIS Best Practices, our guide to Tiered Interventions, and our guide to PBIS in the Classroom. Or if your looking to improve behavior at scale check out our resources on taking PBIS District-Wide.