By Beth Baker, M.S.Ed., and Char Ryan, Ph.D., coauthors of The PBIS Team Handbook: Setting Expectations and Building Positive Behavior. This post was originally published July 11, 2014.
Like most educators, we always enjoy summer break—doing a little traveling and a lot of reading, taking some time to reflect on the past year, and preparing for the new year ahead. It’s our time to rejuvenate.
But what does summer break mean for your Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program? Some educators think that after a year or two of implementing PBIS, the hard work is done and they can forget about what it takes to sustain PBIS in their buildings. A lack of attention (or intention) causes a drift in all of the hard work invested in planning and implementing PBIS. To avoid drifting over the summer to sustain and improve PBIS in your school, here are some big ideas to keep your PBIS framework in mind so that you’ll be ready for fall:
First, select a few key summer assignments for the PBIS leadership team. An important one is updating the matrix, making changes based on your experience and data from the past year. Prepare to unroll the updated matrix in the fall.
Second, create a PBIS orientation and training for new staff and students. Consider having a PBIS leadership team meeting via Skype or GoToMeeting. Meet with student leaders to get their ideas for introducing your school’s routines to new students.
Third, focus on activities that promote continued staff and student buy-in, which can wax and wane yet is critical to maintaining ongoing implementation. Several factors contribute to buy-in, including frequent, clear communication. For example, send out a summer e-newsletter to all staff:
- Include positive thoughts for the day and showcase photos from your school’s celebrations.
- Have staff send in photos of themselves on summer vacation and use the photos for a slideshow at the beginning of the year. It’s a great way to introduce new students to staff.
- Share articles and resources related to PBIS and social-emotional learning—for ideas, check out freespirit.com, edutopia.org, or pbis.org.
- Dig through your school’s data and identify specific areas of progress. Acknowledge staff for their accomplishments.
Fourth, build community support. Visit with community members to discuss how they can support your school:
- Ask shops near your school to display your school expectations. Reinforce students for following the expectations outside of school, too.
- Train area police officers, parks and rec employees, and library staff in PBIS. Together you can create learning matrices for these community areas that relate to your schoolwide expectations.
Fifth, be sure to invest in yourself. If music feeds your soul, while cruising on a road trip keep your ears peeled for a song that could be next year’s school theme. Some suggestions:
- “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
- “Firework” by Katy Perry
- “Hall of Fame” by The Script, featuring will.i.am (look for the edited version)
- “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
- “I Got This” by Jennifer Hudson
So enjoy your summer break and relax a bit. But be intentional about your break. Accomplish what you can, doing what is meaningful for your school. You’ll start the school year two steps ahead of where you left off in the spring, ready to dive in and set the summer drift back on track.
How do you sustain the momentum of PBIS year to year?
Beth 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. Beth is currently on a two-year leave of absence while she is teaching and living in Caracas, Venezuela.
Char 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. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Beth Baker and Char Ryan are coauthors of The PBIS Team Handbook: Setting Expectations and Building Positive Behavior.
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