PBIS: The Control Movement, Part 2


I think we can all agree that there is a movement in education to better control our students. We want them (no, we need them) to do their very best on standardized tests, we don’t want anyone to get hurt in the hallway, the playground, the classroom. We don’t want things out of order.

Especially the kids.We also have determined we must be more systematic about how we decide which of our students are in need of an IEP. RtI. Response to Intervention. It’s a three tiered approach to interventions. Tier 1 is all the stuff we do for every kiddo in our building. Tier 2 is what we provide for the kiddos who are not progressing along at those kiddos eligible for special educations their same age/grade peers. It’s stuff like extra reading support, small group social skills with the guidance counselor, checking in and out with a mentor. Tier 3 is all about the referral process and getting an IEP


We go through a systematic documentation of all interventions tried in the hope of avoiding placing too many kiddos in special education when less intrusive or less restrictive will do the trick.

Which brings us to PBIS. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. I just want us to think about this critically! I get very nervous when the masses follow along and jump on the newest trend without objectively analyzing all aspects. I fear we have done that with the PBIS movement. This is NOT the golden ticket to solving all problems in schools. It is NOT about individual kids, the outliers, the disenfranchised and marginalized. PBIS doesn’t celebrate those kids at all.

The premise is that if we teach every kiddo (school wide) our expectations for behavior and then positively reward kiddos when they are doing the right thing, making ‘good’ choices, they will comply. When they have trouble following along as we have determined they should, we provide reteaching of expected behaviors in smaller groups and we really pour on the rewards for good choices. And then when  kiddos do not respond to tier 2, we start the referral process for special education.

I am a huge supporter and believer in systematic approaches to determine what kiddos need to beScreen_shot_2013-04-04_at_11.07.58_AM successful in school. I think collecting meaningful data is critical. But the data being collected in many cases is not meaningful, does not get below the surface of behaviors, does not find the cause. This means our interventions are rather ineffective or misleading.

I want to share my PBIS observations and the effects on kids and parents.Take that information and start to think about it objectively, critically.

Every year starts with a big rah-rah all school assembly where teachers enthusiastically put on skits about expected behavior and how when we do what is expected, we all get ‘tickets’ or ‘tokens’ when an adult notices we made a good choice and complied. Now, I have to admit, the teachers are generally pretty pumped up about these skits. It’s the start of the year, they get to perform, have fun, ham it up.

images-6Then teachers practice, practice, practice with their kiddos. Practice using the bathroom correctly, walking in the halls correctly, listening correctly, playing correctly, eating lunch correctly. Lots of time is spent practicing. Time that could have been better spent playing or reading, or enjoying school.

Body Basics, Line Basics, Attending Basics, 2X2X2 Bathroom Basics.  It’s absurd we think we know what is best and we get to define to this degree what is acceptable. And do not tell me this stuff is all about kids being safe. It’s not.

It’s about control.

We have decided that if we can just control the little buggers more, there will be order, higher test scores, fewer kids we have to provide special education services for.

All will be well in the kingdom if everyone just does school the way we tell them to.Unknown-6

Examples of PBIS. And I will leave those for you to ponder until my next post where we can dissect this thing. I encourage you to approach observations of these examples using my three favorite things. Common sense, critical thinking, compassion.

Example of teachers performing examples of right and wrong here.

Wanna know how to use the bathroom? Learn how here and here.

How about the lunchroom? Check it out here.


Well, you get the idea.

Next post will be all about the positive reinforcements for making good choices and how that is harmful, not actually reinforcing, and the long term effects.

Now don’t forget your basics!



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