Stillwater Elementary implementing new behavioral approach

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There’s going to be a new way of doing things at Stillwater Elementary School this year. You may have heard about a new initiative called PBIS – or positive behavior interventions and supports. And if you haven’t already, you will soon. On Friday, Oct. 19, the students learned all about PBIS in a kick-off assembly.

In addition to improving challenging behaviors through proactive, positive and consistent measures, Stillwater Elementary Behavior Specialist Jennifer Oliver-Goodwin says PBIS improves academic achievement, social competence and teacher efficacy.

“If you can reduce time spent correcting kids, you have more instruction time,” Oliver-Goodwin said. “The hope is that this initiative will reduce referrals, provide a positive school climate and decrease student disruptions.”

At the elementary level, some concerns with student behavior can include transitions in hallway, cafeteria noise, bullying, disruptions in the classroom, disrespect and defiance, inappropriate hands-on behavior, inappropriate playground behavior, not following directions and problems on the bus.

Stillwater elementary teachers were introduced to the idea of PBIS in June and will be working throughout the year on rolling out the strategies they have learned, including using common language, consistent rules and consistent reinforcement. Why? Because teachers and administrators saw a need for a common approach when it came to handling a situations like loud hallways and hectic dismissal time.

“By implementing PBIS, there will be a systematic, unified process for teaching children appropriate behavior and providing the supports necessary to sustain that behavior,” Oliver-Goodwin said.

Teachers have been provided with a matrix, formulated by the PBIS Committee, which they can refer to when handling different types of situations or behaviors. There are also lesson plans to teach students exactly what the expectations are in a variety of settings like during assemblies, on the school bus, in the bathroom, hallway, classroom, locker areas, cafeteria, during arrival and dismissal and on the playground.

Posters can be found in all classrooms and throughout the school for students and teachers to refer to that demonstrate voice levels on a 0-5 scale.

Teachers will also focus on three basic expectations, which are displayed throughout the school on banners and signs. They are: We are safe, we are respectful, and we are responsible.

  • We are safe means students follow directions, keep their hands and feet to themselves, students use classroom materials and equipment appropriately and students walk at all times.
  • We are respectful means students are helpful, use kind words and manners, use expected voice levels, listen and follow directions the first time, raising their hand and supporting each other.
  • We are responsible means students help keep our school clean, take care of themselves and their belongings, have all necessary materials and are an active participant.

Eventually, students will be recognized and rewarded on a regular basis through Warrior Wampum (school “bucks” that can be traded in for prizes on the “prize cart” like pencils, erasers, little toys, etc.), raffle tickets for a larger prize, recognition days, special opportunities (i.e., lunch with a teacher or the principal), or have their picture on the PBIS Wall of Fame at the entrance of the school.

“We really want to work on rewarding and recognizing students for the right behaviors,” Oliver-Goodwin said. “A lot of times we can get stuck in the habit of recognizing and giving attention to bad behavior, when really, that just encourages that behavior unwittingly.”

Oliver-Goodwin also encourages parents to implement some of the practices at home.

“Parents can replicate this approach at home by rewarding their child with a sticker or a point on a chart for a good behavior, like if they listened the first time or came down to the table for dinner when they were asked,” she said. “And once they get to a certain number of points or stickers, they can earn a special treat or activity that the parent and child agree upon in advance. It’s really important to keep encouraging those types of good behaviors, even when they’re not in school.”