Traditional models of school behavior management focus on responding to inappropriate student behavior. However, evidence shows this isn’t always effective. As a result, several schools have moved to a preventative model. Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) allows educators to change the school’s approach to discipline. This system focuses on teaching students how they should behave in the same way they learn other subjects. It provides schools with the tools they need to create their own plan for behavioral support and a positive approach to school discipline. 

A Positive Approach to School Discipline

This plan for positive discipline begins on the school-wide level. Ten representatives of the school form a committee. The committee then decides which behavioral topics, such as respecting others, to focus on in their plan. Once they have decided on three to five topics, at least 80% of the rest of the staff must agree on them before moving on. After the committee decides on the topics, they create a model of the behaviors with examples. For example, respecting others in the classroom means being quiet when the teacher is talking. This is what the school will try to teach the students. The committee should discuss and decide on how they will teach the principles. Then, the committee must decide on consistent disciplinary practices. All teachers must agree on which behaviors they will take care of in the classrooms and which ones they will handle outside of class.

Putting PBIS in Action

The plan may sound simple enough, but putting it into practice can be difficult. This is why there are multiple practice guides online. These resources  provide suggestions for putting the plan into practice. PBIS guides cover everything from how to make a code of conduct to getting parents involved in the school’s discipline plan. The focus of positive school discipline is to create relationships. In particular, PBIS focuses on relationship-building strategies for the classroom. Other topics include restorative practices, social-emotional programs, and structural interventions. Social-emotional learning (SEL) programs include peer programs like teen court and peer mediation. LearnSafe, a screen-monitoring software system, offers an online SEL program called imSparked through Vivensity. Restorative practices change the school’s attitude towards discipline. Instead of focusing on discipline,  restorative practices think of bad behaviors as chances to learn. Structural intervention involves things like improving the code of conduct. Multiple resources walk educators through these topics and gives suggestions on how to make these changes.

Teaching Appropriate Online Behavior

It’s important to teach appropriate online behavior as well. Acceptable and responsible use policies comprise an essential part of school and classroom codes of conduct. Screen monitoring software like LearnSafe can also teach appropriate technology use. For instance, if students know that screen monitoring software is installed on school computers, they’ll learn to be more cautious about their online behavior. They’ll think about what they’re thinking and doing. In other words, students will practice metacognition, an important skill for learning appropriate behavior. Also, all learners make mistakes. Screen monitoring software works hand-in-hand with content filters to protect students from harm. It can also help schools see what students most need to learn about appropriate online behavior.

Text by Linda Hunt


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