How to Sustain Enthusiasm in Your PBIS Team

By Beth Baker, M.S.Ed., and Char Ryan, Ph.D., authors of The PBIS Team Handbook

How to Sustain Enthusiasm in Your PBIS TeamWhile many of us may want to be thinking about summer vacation, sustaining PBIS should be front and center in everyone’s mind right now. Regardless of whether this is your first year implementing PBIS or you’ve been doing it for years, this midyear period is an essential time to focus on maintaining staff buy-in and implementation fidelity.

The PBIS team is essential in maintaining staff and student enthusiasm. Everyone needs refreshment and boosters for both morale and practice. Build in novel ways to acknowledge staff and students. Offer special staff breakfasts, free periods, or extra support. Don’t assume that previous accomplishments are still in effect. All schools need to formally evaluate their degree of fidelity. Sustaining PBIS is about keeping in place everything you’ve implemented effectively as well as constantly shaping your practices—getting rid of what isn’t working, improving practices that show potential, and shoring up the practices that show improved outcomes.

PBIS practice lives in a fluid framework, changing when new students and staff arrive at a building, and can make sustaining PBIS difficult. When they implement the components well and with fidelity, schools become effective and efficient learning environments. These schools usually also have a commitment from the administration that PBIS is worth the time, staff members who hold one another accountable with monthly data reviews, and a staff that collaborates so work is shared and successes are celebrated.

Here are 10 things schools can do in midwinter to ensure an effective second half of the year:

For district PBIS leadership, principals, and school PBIS leadership teams:

  1. Be sure the team is strong and committed to carrying out action plan items.
  2. Have teams report progress at all faculty meetings.
  3. Be sure that all PBIS team members attend meetings regularly, because it shows staff and students a belief in what the PBIS team is doing.
  4. Provide the PBIS team with time and space to meet. Make the meetings a priority.
  5. Provide a booster session for staff and students.

For the PBIS team:

  1. Use the Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) to assess the level of implementation from Tiers 1 to 3.
  2. Depending on your district’s practice, schedule a time during the spring for the assessments found here. The PBIS team completes the Benchmarks of Quality (BoQ) to assess areas of success and areas for improvement. If appropriate, have staff complete the Self-Assessment Survey (SAS). A summary of the results will identify areas the staff believes are successful or need improvement.
  3. Review school data regarding disciplinary actions. Look for patterns that mark success and others that need action.
  4. Share action plan results with the community. Celebrate successes and commit to continued implementation of behavioral supports for all students.
  5. Remember, you should always be able to:
  • define what PBIS is
  • describe specifically where your school is in implementing PBIS
  • demonstrate your school’s progress using data
  • explain your goals and action plan

Making a commitment to PBIS requires long-term attention. Watch for signs of drift, moving away from fidelity, and stagnation, when staff and student interest in PBIS starts to wane. Start planning for the fall now. Plan a back-to-school kick-off for staff and students. Build in support for PBIS team turnover. Refresh practices that have become irrelevant to achieving outcomes.

Beth Baker, FSP AuthorBeth Baker, M.S.Ed., is an independent behavioral consultant and intervention specialist at Minneapolis Public Schools, where she works to create positive behavioral environments for elementary students. She was formerly the lead PBIS coach for a school district in the Minneapolis metropolitan area as well as a special educator working with students who have emotional behavioral disability (EBD) needs.

Char Ryan, FSP AUthorChar Ryan, Ph.D., is a PBIS coach, evaluation specialist, and Minnesota State SWIS (Schoolwide Information Systems) trainer. She is also a licensed psychologist and consultant with the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health. She is a frequent conference presenter and has been published in numerous journals, including Psychology in the Schools.

PBIS Team HandbookBeth Baker and Char Ryan are coauthors of The PBIS Team Handbook: Setting Expectations and Building Positive Behavior.

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