Marblehead Public Schools has initiated a new system-wide framework to promote a culture of positive behavior. It was introduced to the School Committee in January and February 2016. PBIS teams from Village, Bell, Coffin-Gerry, and Glover Schools reported on their individualized school initiatives.
What is PBIS?
It is a system framework used to achieve important positive behavioral change using positive behavioral systems and interventions that support success in academics as well as social interactions. PBIS is not a program, per se, but serves as a framework for all other programs that may already exist in the system. PBIS builds incentives into the school day improving individual behavior as well as the overall climate of the classroom and school. First, expected behaviors are established for students, with multiple reminders and reinforcements put in place. When fully implemented individual students as well as the class as a whole work for positive rewards, most of which do not entail purchases or added expense.
What does behavior have to do with academics?
The foundational principal of PBIS is that "problems do not occur in isolation but in relation to each other". When the climate of the building improves and students are able to know what is expected of them, they are better prepared to learn and are less distracted.
How does it work?
School PBIS teams adopt a set of values such as Respect, Responsibility and Safety and create a matrix of how these values would be seen in student actions in a variety of environments within the school (e.g. hallways, bathrooms, lunchroom, classroom) and set up creative ways to educate and reinforce the positive. All students and staff receive instruction in the behavioral skills; skills are modeled and staff and students receive ongoing feedback; school-wide acknowledgement plans are implemented; data is collected to determine what is working and what should be worked on in the future.
How are actual violation of behavior rules addressed?
A clear set of responses are laid out for the classroom and office discipline referrals; all staff learn and use the same flow chart to address unwanted behaviors.
How is it being rolled out in Marblehead?
Each school has a PBIS team made up of educators, counselors, support staff as well as parents who have volunteered to bring PBIS to their school. Each PBIS team has two coaches who attend district-wide trainings each month taught by our PBIS facilitator, Christine Downs, from The May Institute. These coaches in turn, teach their PBIS teams what was taught to them. The individual school PBIS teams also interact and receive instruction from the District PBIS leaders, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction and the Director of Student Services. Principals participate in the PBIS teams and assist the coaches in problem-solving implementation in the individual schools.
Do schools develop different approaches with PBIS?
Each school has its own culture, so we should expect that PBIS may look different in each school and that is appropriate. It was clear from the presentations made to the School Committee that Marblehead schools all have their own individual culture.
How does PBIS intersect with the bullying prevention and other district programs?
PBIS serves as a framework inside which all other programs can exist. It provides the climate control for the building, allowing a positive and safe environment for students and educators to work. At the same time, it gives each building a foundation in which the social/emotional and academic curriculum can flourish.
What is the implementation schedule for our schools?
Work with PBIS began at the PreK-8 level with 2 full days of training in the summer of 2015, with additional training in the fall. Marblehead High School will be introduced to PBIS later this spring (2016), followed by two training days in the summer and work all through next year, as done at the lower levels.
How is data used in PBIS?
The data that is collected tracks the effectiveness of PBIS and promotes understanding of factors that can lead to prediction of behaviors and prevention. The underlying theory is that if you can predict it, you can prevent or minimize it. Tracking the effectiveness is a key part of the feedback that guides actions.
What are the benefits?
Research data collected from many systems over time shows reductions in number of student suspensions, an increase in teacher job satisfaction and a reduction in staff turnover, reductions in the number of students requiring intensive services, reduction in serious infractions, and an overall improvement in school climate.
Note: Material for this report was adapted from the PowerPoint presentation of Christine Downs of the May Institute to the Marblehead School Committee.