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Getting Started with Positive Behavior Support in Schools for Instructional Staff

Even if you aren’t a teacher or administrator, there are steps you can take to move forward with school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS):

1. Find Out

2. Build Support

  • Talk with other staff about school-wide PBIS and its benefits. Ask whether they would be interested as well.
  • Talk with your principal about it and determine her or his interest.
  • Inquire about your current school-wide discipline data. Do the data show a need for a coordinated effort?
  • Ask for professional development in school-wide PBIS for you and other staff, in topics like active supervision.
  • In general, having support of the principal and at least 80% of staff is necessary before starting implementation.

3. Start Small but Think About the Big Picture

  • Although working at a whole school level is recommended, you and your fellow staff can try it out in a specific non-classroom setting where there is shared interest in improving behavior.
  • If you’re on your own for the time being, there are steps you can take in your area while you continue to build support from all staff:
    • Define and teach expectations. Pick 3 to 5 positively stated expectations that will work for your students (e.g., Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible). Teach the words, show examples, and provide practice with feedback. Post them and refer to them regularly with students.
    • Define and teach routines. Identify the common routines in your area. Teach the steps so that following them is clear.
    • Change the environment. What is it about the area that might be interfering with positive behavior? Make changes to make it easier for students to do the right thing. Examples include changing the layout, moving materials, or using visuals (e.g., picture schedules, posted steps for common classroom routines).

4. Take Next Steps

  • Tell other staff. Share your journey with them. If you’re doing something worthwhile, they will want to know.
  • Connect with teachers and other school teams/committees. You’re going to need support to keep PBIS alive.
  • Find resources, such as "How to Get Positive Behavior Support in Your School" to guide you.