The Magic Way: a positive approach
We all know how good education works. Teachers explain and model good reading, writing and math skills, students practice the skills, get feedback from teachers, and then master the skills. So it stands to reason that positive behavioral practices can be taught the same way, right?
So often we tend to use positive and negative consequences for student behavior. If a student is kind, helpful and hardworking, we reward them. When they are not, we discipline them. To some extent this practice can be effective, but the Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) adds another dimension—teach and model positive behavior expectations in a proactive manner.
In Barberton City Schools, many teachers and administrators have always handled classroom management this way, but through the PBIS initiative, the entire school district is engaged in promoting positive behavior and teaching specific student expectations before negative behaviors appears.
Last school year teachers and administrators met with trainers from the State of Ohio to create a PBIS plan for the district and for each individual building. The district expectations were defined: Be respectful; be responsible; be ready to learn. Based on these three expectations, students are being shown how it looks to have positive behavior.
For example, at Barberton Elementary School East, teachers and students made a funny video depicting how NOT to behave on the playground, contrasted with how TO behave on the playground. The students had a great time “acting” with teacher Jon Hance, but they also got the point—share the playground equipment and play in a safe manner. When students occasionally break the rules, they are reminded of the video and reminded about how positive behavior looks and sounds.
Rewards are important too. It has become a practice to “catch” students displaying good behavior, rather than just waiting for students to make mistakes that lead to negative consequences. At Barberton High School, students earn Magic Money through positive behavior. They can then spend the “money” on spirit items at the school store. At Barberton Middle School, Mr. Gotto enlisted BHS varsity football players to talk to students about bullying and engaging them in strategies to stop bullying in the school. Students who had good grades and attendance were then given prizes of purple water bottles and backpacks. Barberton Elementary West sends home Positive Postcards to parents when kids are doing great things. At the East elementary, students earn Golden Tickets for extra time in the computer lab. These are just a few of the many positive rewards we offer students.
All the buildings feel that we have decreased discipline referrals this year compared to last year. We are anxious to compile actual data at the end of the school year through our computerized data management system to prove PBIS is working.
We sometimes forget that children need concrete examples in order to learn skills. In Barberton Schools we are actively teaching the behavior we want to see, not just punishing bad behavior. As a result, this practice leaves more time for teaching academics and more smiling faces!