Understanding behavioral intervention

Have you heard your children talking about receiving tickets or other types of rewards when people at school have caught them following the school rules? That is because of Marshalltown Community School Districts commitment to Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, or PBIS.

PBIS is a school-wide evidence-based practice that has been researched for over the past 15 years by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education. In 2010, as the School Board and district administration were identifying student needs, it became apparent that a number of students at every grade level struggled consistently following the school rules. It was clear the District couldn’t assume each student came to school with the same understanding of school rules, but rather build time into the daily routine to teach them what positive school behaviors looks like and then reward them when they see those behaviors throughout the day, the essence of PBIS.

The underlying theme in PBIS is teaching students what appropriate behaviors look and feel like in a similar way that we would teach students how to read or write. Part of that teaching come from students learning simple, common vocabulary that are positively stated and tell the students what to do instead of what not to do (e.g., “Be Safe” instead of “Don’t Touch Anyone”).

The other part of that teaching comes from teachers, principals, and other school staff rewarding students when they see them demonstrating these positive behaviors. From this, students gain and understanding of what positive behaviors look like in school. By reinforcing those positive behaviors throughout the day, we end up with are students who show positive behaviors consistently enough that over time they become habits at school.

As the Marshalltown Community School District continues our commitment to implementing PBIS in all of our schools, please continue to be supportive of our efforts. Ask your children if they received a reward for making good choices today!

Matt Cretsinger is director of special services for Marshalltown Community School District.