We have started a new program at Van Allen called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports or PBIS. We are following in the footsteps of Dent Elementary and El Portal who began implementation of PBIS during the last school year. The purpose of PBIS is to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of schools while supporting the social, emotional, and behavioral well-being of students. PBIS has been shown to decrease incidences of discipline by up to 50 percent and positively impact the achievement of students. The way this is done is by clearly laying out the expectations and behaviors for the different settings across the school so that students know how they need to comport themselves. Students then are provided positive reinforcement in the form of incentives and rewards when they model expected behaviors.
Some examples of incentives are: bonus recesses, prize box, drawings for big ticket items, signing our VIKING posters, free admission to paid school events, assemblies, and postcards home. At Van Allen our school wide expectations have been distilled into six letters that are easy to remember: V: Value differences, I: Insist on integrity, K: Keep safe, I: Inspire kindness, N: Never give up, and G: Give and earn respect, which together spell VIKING. Signage has been placed around campus in strategic locations to remind students of expected behaviors. Students know they will be held accountable by staff members for their choices at recess, in their classrooms, in the cafeteria; in the bathroom, in the office, at the library, in walkways, on the bus, and during assemblies. Staff hand out Honor the Viking Code tickets to students who are modeling what it means to be a VIKING on a daily basis.
So a question people might ask is, “Why do we need PBIS?” At Van Allen and across our district we implement Response to Intervention (RTI) to address the academic needs of our students. By tailoring specific academic interventions to support students’ learning needs, “We ensure that all students learn at high levels.” PBIS provides an added layer of support addressing the social, behavioral, and emotional needs of our students. Together they form a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) to help our children make academic growth while reducing discipline issues and increasing student’s sense of safety and security on campus. Certainly the greatest benefit of an MTSS approach is that it eliminates a “reactive or wait to fail” situation because students get help straight away within the general education setting. As soon as assessment data shows an area of concern for a student or a group of students, interventions are put into place to address it. While the interventions are happening, school staff monitors any progress that these students are making in the identified area. The progress monitoring used within the MTSS process provides important information that allows for teachers to accurately evaluate student needs and align instruction, resources and interventions appropriately.
A motivational speaker, Kevin Bracy, recently visited Van Allen and inspired students to bring their greatness through the door every day by showing their best behavior and making their best effort. Students and staff clapped and chanted fully absorbed in the music and his positive message. Our VIKING Code was a big part of his performance. He shared his personal story and connected with students about the importance of perseverance, “It’s not about how big you can dream, it’s about how loooong you can dream big.” At Van Allen our students and staff work hard at learning every day. Teachers care deeply about their students and the feeling on our campus is nurturing and supportive. We try to embody the “it takes a village” philosophy to ensure that our students feel supported to meet their academic goals.
RTI and PBIS play a big part in ensuring our students are happy, their needs are being met, and as a result they are achieving at high levels.
Principally Speaking is a monthly article, contributed by principals from Escalon Unified School District sites, throughout the school year. It is designed to update the community on school events and activities.