Welcome back from winter break.
I hope your time was restful. Mine was 14 days of chaotic energy, video games, and a lot of food. There was a lot of joy AND I'm feeling grateful for a return to routine.
So, let’s get into it.
We pick up where we left off on our journey through the 15 foundational features of the PBIS framework. First, a quick recap.
There are three essential elements to PBIS:
- Systems: the policies, procedures, processes, and priorities to keep your efforts going over the long haul.
- Practices: the evidence-based, culturally-relevant things you DO WITH your students.
- Data: the information to help you choose your next steps, evaluate how things have been going, and sound the alarm when something needs to change.
Each of the 15 features fit neatly into these three elements with equity at the center binding them all together. As a diagram, it looks like this.
Today, we’re talking about a practice, specifically the things you do in your classroom. The Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI) tells us your classroom procedures — your expectations, routines, acknowledgements, and consequences — need to be consistent with the systems and practices implemented schoolwide. It’s not essential to do everything exactly the same to the letter, but your procedures need to align. The consistency is the key; it’s what helps everyone know what to expect wherever they go.
Great. Classroom procedures need to align with what we do schoolwide…and those procedures look like what, exactly?
Our friends over at the Center on PBIS have a practice guide spelling it all out for us.1
The Classroom Procedure 4-Step Process
The practice guide, Supporting and Responding to Students’ Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Needs: Evidence-Based Practices for Educators defines a 4-step process for supporting and responding to your students’ social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) needs in the classroom.
- Create positive teaching and learning environments
- Actively promote social, emotional, and behavioral growth
- Monitor fidelity and use data to guide your implementation
- Monitor student outcomes and use data to guide your response
The guide doesn’t just state the step and move on. There are specific elements to put in place for each one.
Let’s pause for a second. I think it’s important to acknowledge something here.
- There are four steps for supporting student behavior in your classroom.
- Each step has a list of elements associated with it.
- Each element contains a list of features and examples.
It starts to feel like a lot of moving parts, and I wondered how these practices play out in real classrooms.
PBIS Classroom Procedures in Practice
Researchers asked more than 1200 teachers about their experiences implementing evidence-based interventions.2 Nearly every teacher they surveyed (more than 95%) said they were responsible for implementing interventions with their students. Along with the details about the types of interventions, the support they received, and the logistics involved with these strategies, researchers also asked what was challenging about their implementation. The top three barriers to implementing evidence-based strategies were:
- Intervention compatibility: The intervention has to fit with what they were already doing, otherwise it got complicated really fast.
- Time/duration required: Interventions that take a lot of time were less likely to be implemented well.
- Materials/resource required: This one feels like a combination of the first two. If the intervention requires additional resources, it likely will require more support and, you guessed it, more time.
When I see these three barriers, I hear is the collective sound of 1219 teachers screaming, “WE NEED EFFICIENT PRACTICES!”
As always, we return to a familiar theme. Time is valuable and often limited during the school day. There may be times when you see yourself not as a teacher, but as a one-man band clanging your cymbals between your knees and honking the horn under your arm attending to the list of responsibilities, decisions, priorities, and deadlines of any given day.
I see you. I applaud the music you create in the chaos.
Here’s the good news. Another study found “teachers’ implementation of classroom management techniques with 75%, 85%, and above 90% fidelity were similarly effective in improving class-wide academic engagement.”3 That means, even if you do only 75% of the strategies, you should still see improvements in your classroom.
The next obvious question is: How do you know your implementation percentage? Well, remember that practice guide from The Center on PBIS? It’s got a self-assessment inside made just for this purpose!
Classroom Practices Self-assessment
Toward the back of the practice guide, you’ll find a short self-assessment you can take to evaluate each of the four steps as well as the specific practices you do in your classroom. You’ll mark whether you’ve implemented them fully, partially, or not at all. Then, for any item you mark as partially or not at all implemented, you add it to your plan for improving that practice. Don’t overwhelm yourself, though. Choose your top three items and leave the rest for later. The bonus here is, if you don’t know what to do to improve, the guide has loads of links with ideas to jumpstart your plan.
We want to get in on that action plan, too. In addition to the list of resources you’ll find in the practice guide, here is a list of some of our favorite resources related to each of the four steps.
Step 1: Create Positive Teaching and Learning Environments
Setting up your classroom space for success means designing a space that is welcoming, safe, and conducive to the learning about to take place. That's everything from ensuring the physical layout of your room is accessible and promotes collaboration to establishing classroom expectations and predictable routines. It’s also about building and maintaining positive connections with students and their families.
Resources we love:
- Supportive Environments Create Classroom Community
- 11 Easy Tips to Really Engage with Families
- Go, Engage, Connect: Welcome Student Identity & Improve Equity
- Respect: Find Out What It Means to Me…Actually Ask Your Students
Step 2: Actively Promote Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Growth
Your students’ social, emotional, and behavioral growth is intimately tied to their academic outcomes. If you want to have successful learners, you need to invest in practices that support them socially, emotionally, and behaviorally in your classroom. Active supervision, opportunities to respond, acknowledging the behavior you hope to see, offering error corrections and consequences, these are all examples of how you support this growth in your classroom.
Resources we love:
- TUMS at the Door
- Examples of Engaging Instruction to Increase Equity in Education
- Including Student Voice in Your PBIS Implementation
- 5 Ways to Reward Students the Right Way
- Consequence Matrix
- Let’s Talk About Behavior Trends: What the Data Say and How to Address Your Classroom Realities
Step 3: Monitor Fidelity and Use Data to Guide Implementation
In PBIS, it’s critical to ask yourself whether you’re doing the things you said you would do. That’s your fidelity of implementation. When it comes to what you do in your classroom, it’s no different. You regularly need to check on how closely you’ve implemented the systems and practices in your classroom the way you intended and adjust accordingly.
Resources we love:
- The Self-assessment Survey: Classroom Systems
- 10 Strategies to Combat Stress in the Classroom
- Overview of Classroom PBIS
Step 4: Monitor Student Outcomes and Use Data to Guide Response
A big reason for implementing classroom-level systems and practices in the first place is to achieve better outcomes for students. You deserve feedback that what you do as an adult impacted the goal you set out to achieve. The way to get that feedback is through data.
Resources we love:
- Schoolwide Information System (SWIS)
- 7 Dos and Don’ts to Ensure Your CICO Program is the Best
- Disrupt Your Vulnerable Decisions with These Simple Solutions
Your classroom procedures are so important to your school's PBIS implementation. They are a practice-level foundational feature. The expectations you set, the way you acknowledge behavior, the routines you teach, they are the things that create consistency and predictability throughout the building. It's overwhelming to think about the list of things you can do in a day. So, maximize the time you have by prioritizing the evidence-based practices proven to support positive outcomes. Establish a safe collaborative learning space. Build community by including student voices and experiences in the expectations you set. Continue to promote healthy social, emotional, and behavioral habits as a class. Then, a few times during the year, don't forget to ask yourself whether you're still doing the things you said you would do and whether those things have helped you create a classroom where everyone thrives.