PBIS; Flawed and Harmful

Sadly, I must write abut PBIS again.

It seems this year has brought us even bigger absurdities in the name of PBIS and behavior management in general.

Suspensions are actually on the rise. Hmm. Office referrals are more frequent and more infractions are being doled out for things that could have/should have been handled in the classroom.

th-4The PBIS system is driving the bus and all its rules and consequences and data collection are using up the priceless time, resources and learning experiences that make for effective teaching and schools.

Once again, we have lost sight of the essential fact that our students are whole beings. Given that, the variables to be considered in behavior managment are diverse and complex. PBIS neglects to embrace that.

I believe PBIS is causing more harm to kids who are already hurting. The entire premise is if we teach kids what is right, they will do right. It is all in their control.  All of it.  And if we get to tier 3 in our data collection and intervention plans, then the student needs an IEP because of some flaw or deficit within the student.

Students bring to school the best they have. And sometimes the best they have is not pleasant or terribly adaptive. And most often, teaching and reteaching them how to be more pleasant, acceptable and adaptive is not going to change how they present.

So, how did we get so lost and caught up in this swirl of the perceived magic of PBIS? There is no magic. There is no recipe for dealing with maladaptive kids. There is no whole-school approach that fixes whatever you think needs fixing.

These are whole people we are teaching. These are real people with real struggles with real needs and desires. That we expect them to do better once they know better is nothing less than disrespectful.  th-5

And it hurts kids that are already hurting.

One PBIS intervention is the check in and check out. It is nothing more than kids showing up, designated checker-inner/outer reminding them to read more, to take home their books, to pay attention, to get  daily communication sheets signed by parents, to do better today than yesterday is just bullshit. How is that helping our students improve? Once again it is all on them to figure it out. There is no attention given to how or what is being taught. It’s all on that poor kiddo who brings you his best every single day only to be told his best isn’t good enough.

I say, WE aren’t good enough. The ADULTS are not doing good enough.

Because we have come to rely on a recipe with promised results, a recipe that requires nothing of us but to put that plate of cookies on the table. If the kids don’t take a cookie, they need an intervention. If they don’t respond to that intervention, then they need an IEP.

th-3I don’t know. There are just too many cookies I don’t like. Is that my fault, or yours, for not offering me what I find palatable?

PBIS, you are not working. And your data collection and analysis are flawed in significant ways. PBIS, you are causing harm to way too many kids.


2 thoughts on “PBIS; Flawed and Harmful

  1. I’ve never bought into PBIS. It is time-consuming and demeaning to the teacher as well. Why do I need to be taught 100 nice things to say? I am a respectful human being, and my nice things to say go beyond this list. PBIS is the BIGGEST waste of time and resources. Less learning occurs in part due to PBIS. The kids want to learn, they don’t want fluff talk.


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