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The Pulaski County Special School District boasts many bright students from 25 schools across central Arkansas. One of the many ways PCSSD strives to bring equity and excellence to every student is through positive behavioral interventions and supports, or PBIS. PCSSD Executive Director of Communications, Jessica Duff, spoke with PBIS team leaders at Robinson Middle School about why this behavior methodology is so important for every child’s education.

Explain what PBIS means to you. PBIS is what good teachers have been doing for a long time. It gives students the opportunity to be successful. Rather than telling them what they can’t do, they are given procedures for what they can do. It encourages creativity, within the constraints of safety and security. PBIS is the opportunity for our school to implement a behavior system that allows teachers to always have something to reinforce expected behaviors and goals for all of our students throughout our campus.

Give an example of how PBIS can help a student improve his/her behavior?  [One of our teachers] had a young, energetic student who kept getting in trouble. He kept getting in trouble, but never really understood why. He was told he cannot run in the hallway, but he never ran...he skipped, hopped, did cartwheels and somersaults, but NEVER ran. When we explained that the rule was to WALK, and taught him how and why we walk in the hallway, he understood our expectations. He was given the opportunity to be successful in the hallway rather than punishing.

What are you most excited about when it comes to implementing PBIS at Robinson Middle? Students are young, full of energy and enthusiasm, not robots. We have great teachers and students; teachers can spend less time "disciplining" students and students will know what the expectations are in each area of the school. PBIS helps us set the parameters for all students and teachers to fully engage, focus more on the curriculum and less on discipline interruptions. Students don’t have to live by the old “one strike and you're out” rule of the past. Through PBIS we’re trying to set up a system that sets an expectation that we can work towards being the standard for what we expect at Robinson Middle School. Students will earn incentives and be able to see how their positive behavior can get them to those incentives.

How will PBIS help students feel more comfortable at school? A common set of standards across the school helps all students and teachers know the expectations.  Each teacher has the autonomy to manage his or her own classroom while holding students accountable to the same set of standards.  No more confusion about what is and is not allowed.

Like I said before I think PBIS will allow our students the opportunity to earn things through their good behaviors and actions. They will also see that when we don’t act how we’re expected to there consequences but no longer will that one mistake take you out of being able to achieve your behavior goals for that semester. All kids are capable of making mistakes, but they also need to know you can make up for those mistakes by learning from them and doing the right thing the next time you’re put in that situation.

How do you think this will help parents feel more comfortable about Robinson Middle? PBIS will be a great tool for parents. They’ll be able to see the expectations for every student and it helps alleviate any “questions” of the expected behavior. Each school has set expectations for the hallway, cafeteria, assemblies, bathroom, bus, carpool lines, etc. Those expectations will be clear and communicated to everyone. PBIS also great for the student who may struggle academically. For example, a “C” student may not get the academic recognition, but he/she could be praised for following rules in the hallway or helping others. We’re going to reward those students who are meeting and exceeding these expectations. We want kids to share with their parents when they learn by doing the right thing and how that behavior is rewarded.