Interventions are widely used in schools to develop and reinforce specific skills for students. These skills can be both academic and behavioral. The most commonly used school-wide intervention framework for behavior is the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS.
Interventions are widely used in schools to develop and reinforce specific skills for students. These skills can be both academic and behavioral. The most commonly used school-wide intervention framework for behavior is the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or the PBIS Tiers.
PBIS is a tiered system targeting student behavior and is depicted as a pyramid. The PBIS pyramid goes from the bottom up.
At the base is Tier 1. Tier 1 includes all learners and represents basic student behavior expectations and skills. In the middle is Tier 2. Tier 2 interventions are strategies to support some learners, sometimes labeled “at-risk.” Tier 2 focuses on developing the skills that students need to succeed in class. At the top of the pyramid is Tier 3, which are strategies for a few students that require intensive, individualized support to ensure success.
In this article, we will explore Tier 2 behavior interventions.
Tier 2 behavior interventions offer support for students who are not successful with Tier 1 supports alone. Tier 2 targets students who are deemed at risk of developing more serious behavior problems and challenges – with the goal of preventing it.
Tier 2 is more focused than Tier 1 interventions, which are implemented in a blanket approach. Tier 2 is also less intensive than Tier 3 interventions, which are provided individually.
Tier 2 behavior interventions are applied to small groups of students and include practices like social skill groups, restorative justice circles, and academic support.
According to the Center on PBIS, there are 6 key practices for Tier 2 behavior interventions:
Check-In/Check-Out is a Tier 2 behavior intervention in which students are assigned a mentor in the school building. Students meet with their mentor every morning to review their goals and discuss behavior strategies. Then, at the end of the day, they meet with their mentor again and review feedback the student received throughout their day from teachers and staff.
The check-in and check-out intervention can be implemented in many ways. One way it can be done is for one teacher and one student to complete the check-in. In this approach, you identify an adult that has a positive relationship with the student displaying off-task behaviors. It’s important for the teacher to be consistently available for check-in.
At the start of the day, the student visits the teacher with the main goal of having a positive interaction. They can talk about what they did the day before, their morning, questions or concerns, what they are looking forward to for the day, etc.
The teacher and student can set a goal for the day: participate in class, ask questions when needed, or complete classwork. The teacher ends the check-in with a positive message to encourage the student to have a positive day and remind them to return at the end of the day. When the student arrives at the end of the day, they review student behavior throughout the day. The behavior can be tracked in a manual system like Google Forms and Sheets or a more comprehensive PBIS system like LiveSchool. By looking at the feedback, the student and mentor can identify what went well and/or any challenges.
The goal is that the student leaves with positive and constructive teacher interaction.
The communication of behaviors, the good/bad/ugly as I call it, is necessary to create a supportive learning environment.
When students have behavior needs in school, parents are often brought in to identify if they observe similar behaviors at home. When the school team shares their observations and replacement behaviors being taught, a home and school plan can increase the likelihood of positive behaviors.
Parents can help by identifying a reward and consequence that will be followed up with at home based on the child’s in-school behavior. The home and school plan show alignment between teachers and parents, which helps to reinforce the importance of acting appropriately throughout the school day.
Often, disruptive behaviors occur in class due to a lack of self-regulation. At times, students are overstimulated or bored and they act out in a way to gain attention.
The Take a Break intervention in Tier 2 aims to mitigate this. In Take a Break, your PBIS team develops approved mechanisms for students to decompress, pause, and regulate their emotions and behaviors. To reduce class disruption, your team can also conceive of signals for teachers to use that signal to a student they need to apply this intervention.
Your team can develop these Take a Break strategies and signals and communicate them to teachers and Tier 2 students. Teachers can also do this individually within their classrooms.
The break can include walking around the hall, getting a drink of water, or looking out a window – among many others.
It’s key to also have a time period for this break. otherwise, students may miss out on too much in class, making it challenging for them when they return to class. They can use a watch or a timer to help them with time management.
The student can have a universal pass they take with them because many schools have policies around having a pass with students when they are in the hallway.
The break can help release energy or support the student to focus on the class activity.
A self-monitoring form can be a powerful Tier 2 behavior intervention to identify how students perceive their own behavior.
With this intervention, students are instructed to complete their form to provide a snapshot of their class performance. The monitoring form can focus on 3-4 items such as participation, work completion, on-task behavior, and being prepared for class.
Students can provide their input on their behavior and then check in with a teacher to see if they have the same observations of their behavior.
These open dialogues can help the student “see” their on-task and off-task behaviors consistently. Students can set goals for their behavior and earn the opportunity to gain a reward for showing consistent positive behaviors.
Social skills instruction is a coordinated effort to increase the likelihood of positive behaviors. In this Tier 2 Intervention, students receive instruction that explicitly targets areas where the student shows social skills deficits.
Social skills include interpersonal communication, self-discipline, self-management, and problem-solving. Social skills instruction both equips students with new behavioral skills as well as strategies to replace problem behaviors.
It’s essential to focus on one behavior at a time. Identify what behavior is the biggest roadblock to achieving success, then determine what is the replacement behavior that you need to teach the student.
It’s helpful to have examples and modeling of what the behavior looks like and doesn’t look like, followed up with time to practice the behavior. If possible, having peers in the class to practice would be extremely beneficial.
Restorative Practices are an alternative approach to suspension and punishment for behavior and can aid Tier 2 students – and even Tier 3 – in a PBIS school. Restorative practices improve behavior and the harm it does by building empathy, responsibility, and restitution.
Restorative justice circles are a specific intervention to facilitate this Tier 2 strategy. Restorative justice circles can look similar to peer-mediated small group meetings where students meet to talk through conflicts.
Topics discussed can include behavior and bullying and give the offender the opportunity to understand the harm the words and actions inflict and take responsibility for it. In the end, the goal is that the student develops empathy as well as a plan to repair the harm done.
Restorative practice circles also give the victim a chance for healing and recognition of the harm they’ve endured.
In my experience, I’ve used this method to bring together two students in which a statement about one’s race and physical appearance was brought up.
Both students were able to share what happened according to their points of view, they both agreed to listen to their peers and not interrupt. They were both free to ask questions to one another.
Then, I encouraged them to share their boundaries out loud, what was acceptable and unacceptable for their peers to say to them. Including students in the conversations on how to resolve peer conflict is necessary, instead of creating a plan or consequence and then delivering it to them.
When starting a behavior intervention for an individual student or small group of students, it’s essential to monitor progress.
Document their current behavior with your PBIS system, this will be the baseline information where you can track whether you see a positive or negative trend. Then, document their daily or weekly progress. If you have an aide or additional adult support in class, you can have them support you in monitoring behavior data.
Allow 6-8 weeks for the intervention to determine if it is moving in the right direction or if tweaks need to be made to increase positive behavior.