Ring Positive Behavioral Intervention System Reinforces Positive Behaviors

Ring Elementary School kindergartners, Jaxson Willingham, Katie Melquist, Elle Theofilactidis and Armany Carrasquillo Alvira show off the anti-bullying pledges they signed.

“Don’t bully!” yelled Ring Elementary School kindergartners.

Kindergartners from Abby Langworthy’s class were part of a school wide anti-bullying initiative. In Mrs. Langworthy’s class, she talked about bullying, how to prevent it and read books that would help students understand the importance of not bullying and telling an adult if they feel like they are being bullied. Everyone in the school talked about and signed the pledge that said: be kind, treat others with respect and take action to stop or report any mean behaviors that they see.

The anti-bullying pledge is just one way the school’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention System) is helping to make a happy Ring family. The goal of the PBIS team and framework is to explicitly teach, and positively, consistently reinforce desired positive social and academic behaviors. The school-wide structure allows for common language and expectations regardless of where students are in the building or in what academic setting. The students learn to “be respectful, be responsible and be peaceful.” These structured practices then in turn facilitate a positive climate, constantly conveying the message that each member of the Ring Family is part of a larger, safe community.

Ring School’s PBIS Coach Rebekah Sorenson’s role has many facets. One is to provide continual support and information about the PBIS framework as a whole to the staff. Second, is to lead the PBIS team in analyzing data to dictate their practices and implementation. The team looks at student behavior data from many perspectives, which drives what they continue to practice, and what they perceive needs to be adjusted to be most effective, indicated by students’ success with respectful, responsible, and safe behaviors, consistently. Students who exhibit the good behavior receive tickets that are rewards for tangible items in the school store or intangible items like a fun experience or recognition at a school wide assemblies.

“It is important to have PBIS in any school because it is simply good practice and a positive approach to addressing expected behaviors,” said Ms. Sorenson. “PBIS is a research-based program that offers a concrete set of teaching practices, including lesson plans, to teach what behaviors are acceptable and explicitly what those behaviors look like. Once the students have had ample opportunity to learn and practice these expectations, they are intermittently rewarded for their success as positive members of our community. Most importantly, PBIS does not operate from the assumption that every student comes to school equipped automatically knowing every socially acceptable behavior in every setting. We believe it is our responsibility to help our students become kind and positive members of our community, to teach these behaviors and then take every opportunity to reward them in varying ways as they do so. The larger scope is that our students carry the intrinsic values that we teach with them for a lifetime.”

The PBIS system and implementation is not carried out in isolation or specific to just Ring Elementary School, but is partnered with other teaching and research-based practices.

“Rather than a punitive approach, within which we only address unwanted behaviors with negative consequences, we hold high expectations for our students, teach accountability for their decisions, and show in our teaching and our responses to them, that from positive actions come positive reactions,” said Ms. Sorenson. “We also explicitly teach our students how to effectively deal with and process real-life emotions such as sadness, disappointment, and anger, as we know in real life these occur. We strongly believe and practice based on the mindset that we must address the needs of the whole student, not strictly academic facets, to guide our students on their journey to becoming kind, positive, and safe members of any community.”