PBIS (the positive behavioral support) is an approach which most schools use to enhance their safety and also improve positive behaviors. This approach is also useful in helping schools in the process of making decisions when dealing with misbehaving children (Sugai & Horner, 2002). At the center of the PBIS model, it looks into schools to ensure that they educate their children about positive behavior the exact way they do when teaching other subjects. For instance, while teaching the science subject. This approach identifies that children can meet the expected behaviors only if they are aware of these expectations. Discussed below are the themes of this approach as used in schools, its strengths, challenges, and critique of its value.
Key Themes of the PBIS Model as Applied to Schools
The main themes of the PBIS model include, first, prevention: this model uses distinct levels of prevention. The first level is the primary level; it focuses on the reduction of the number of all new cases of situations or problem behaviors. This achieved by maintaining and ensuring that students use the most effective methods and practices (Funnell, 2009). At this level, the students are usually taught the social skills and behavioral expectations to use in every area in the school. The staff and teachers use a positive approach to acknowledge any student who behaves the set expectations.
The other level of the prevention theme is the secondary level. The primary goal of this level is to decrease existing situations and problems. It provides additional behavioral and instructional supports for students who might be at any risk of severe school failure and need support (Funnell,2009). The last level is the tertiary level, which focuses on decreasing cases of long-standing, untraceable, and complex problem behaviors displayed by students who are at a high risk of severe social, behavioral, and emotional failure.
The other theme is the proactive approach: PBIS states that strategies taken by staff and teachers in schools should be active but not reactive. Behavior guidelines are usually taught to kids at the start and at the end of the year to enable students to be aware of how they are expected to behave. This theme involves a keen consideration of the structural and institutional practices to improve academic outcomes, select and teach class-wide and school-wide routines, rules, and expectations (Funnell,2009). It also involves encouraging and practicing the use of behavioral expectations and skills across several critical contexts and settings.
Another theme of this approach is the systems perspective theme. Since the PBIS approach is a school-wide thing, it is essential to have the systems established in the whole school to ensure successful implementations of the required practices. This theme involves ongoing coaching and training of the school staff and teachers to promote consistency in the school. The systems support idea is essential to ensure the use of sustained, efficient, and accurate data management and evidence-based systems and practices.
The Model's Strengths
One of the strengths of positive behavioral support is that its system helps in improving the climate of the classroom. This is because the staff and the teachers will not have to spend too much time to redirect students who have undesired or harmful behaviors( Harvey, Boer, Meyer, & Evans, 2009). The teacher's language will be positive as he or she encourages the students to display good behaviors. Incorporation of simple statements while praising the students like "Thank you, Peter, for following instructions for the first time" instead of highlighting the student's poor behaviors is helpful since it makes much difference and improves the general class morale.
Another strength of the PBS model is that it increases the classroom's general academic performance. This is major because most of the students are aware of how they are expected to behave. A token economy is one of the systems, which is a significant strength of the approach because it motivates the students to have the positive required behaviors. When the teacher rewards the kids for doing the right things, the other students and peers learn the positive reactions from them (Harvey et al.,2009). The children who behave correctly and follow the appropriate procedures and rules act as positive peer models to the others by showing the expected behaviors.
This model is also helpful in improving student behaviors. It is because most of the practices used by the PBIS model are very useful and powerful. They can quickly reduce continuous school suspensions and help students follow the right path. This will lead them to succeed in changing the disciplinary focus of the school's impacts, school drop out rates, and suspensions. Implementation of this model allows the school teachers and staff to focus on the right behaviors that will make the students succeed.
The school adjustment changes the student's educational experience dramatically that of their families and also the teachers. It equips the students with the necessary tools hence helping them develop emotionally and socially. This behavior is not an abandonment of discipline since it does not give any chance to the adverse actions to thrive. If a school adopts the PBIS model, it places the students to acknowledge their positive behaviors and also helps them in developing these behaviors (Harvey et al.,2009). Students who work towards this regard get guidance and encouragement as well as the prescribed path, which will help them to manage the negative behaviors. Expulsions, as well as suspensions, tend to reduce since they became a smaller part of the general disciplinary picture of the school.
Some of the difficulties associated with using this behavior management approach include; firstly, it is manipulative and coercive. An example of the comments recommended by this approach is "I like the way Peter is talking." This makes the other children try and be like Peter since they care what their teacher is saying. However, in the real sense, the students will start hating Peter, and he might even end up getting razzed or bullied if such comments keep on happening to him.
Additionally, all the other kids who talk nicely just like Peter and never got any recognition from the teacher might change and stop caring about how they communicate. They know that the teacher will not recognize them anyway (LaVigna, & Willis, 2012). The praise of one student leads to silence criticism of another student. This will, in turn, creates a competitive environment that is unhealthy for the students since it pits the children against each other.
Secondly, the teacher is kept at the mercy of his or her student's behaviors. Some schools which have adopted the PBIS approach have restrictions on how the misbehaving students should be handled. This inhibits the teachers from sending the students to the offices not unless they have reached specific conditions, like a continuous try of the positive reinforcement, or you have called their parents severally (Mirsky, 2007). This makes it difficult for the teacher to intervene in dangerous situations; hence, the classroom becomes a less safe environment.
Thirdly, it punishes the good students: the reticular activating approaches are designed to note the discrepancies and differences. The idea behind this is that the teacher aims to catch students being kind. This means that it is apparent that they tend to notice good behaviors in bad behaving children and hard to see that of the well-behaved students (Moreno, & Bullock, 2011). This means that the right kids will rarely get rewards associated with the right behaviors as compared to the bad kids who reform.
Lastly, it is a disrespectful approach to behavior reinforcement. This is because the staff and teachers in the school tend to treat the students as if they cannot learn how to behave in proper ways on their own. This sends the message that they can not do anything good on their own and have to be punished or rewarded for them to behave appropriately (Moreno, & Bullock, 2011). It is like telling the students that they are lucky to have them punish or reward them for them to behave correctly, which is being disrespectful.
The tier system which is currently applied makes most of the children to be left out of the services not unless they engage themselves in the maladaptive behaviors. According to how this system is designed, the student must have maladaptive behaviors for them to be rewarded or get any additional services like mental health services.
Another critique is that this approach does not work: this is because this approach expects the unreasonable. It is irrational to conclude that only the adults can handle situations better, and if they do so, then the students will turn into perfect angels (Arter, 2007). The idea behind this is that not all behaviors can be associated with adult interactions or lack of adult interactions; since kids are also complicated humans who have cognitive abilities.
It makes it hard for those who come after: such ideas might come as a shock to most of the students who are at the PBIS schools. This is because most people are not offered rewards to recess anything that they think they are doing right as they walk around (Arter, 2007). If kids get used to getting bonuses for every little good thing they do or not been punished for their misbehavior, they will have a much skewed view of the world. This approach means that if you reward someone for good behavior, you should plan to keep on paying him or her. Rewards are like potato chips; you cannot just take one and say that you are satisfied and stop taking them.
Behavioral management approaches are some of the debatable topics in the field of education. PBIS model has been proven to enhance the behavior of the students. This technique uses positive reinforcement approaches to promote and encourage the proper practices of the students. Additionally, it punishes misbehaving students by giving them the appropriate punishment depending on the student's behavior. Although some of the methods followed by the PBIS have been proven effective, this model has some minor challenges which make it face critiques from different scholars.
Arter, P. S. (2007). The Positive Alternative Learning Supports Program; Collaborating to Improve Student Success. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(2), 38-46. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/004005990704000205?journalCode=tcxa
Funnell, R. (2009). Struggles for order and control of school behavior: a sketch for social psychology. Social Psychology of Education, 12(4), 481.Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11218-009-9100-8
Harvey, S. T., Boer, D., Meyer, L. H., & Evans, I. M. (2009). Updating a meta-analysis of intervention research with challenging behavior: Treatment validity and standards of practice. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 34(1), 67-80.Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13668250802690922?src=recsys
LaVigna, G. W., & Willis, T. J. (2012). The efficacy of positive behavioral support with the most challenging behavior: The evidence and its implications. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 37(3), 185-195.Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13668250.2012.696597?scroll=top&needAccess=true
Mirsky, L. (2007). SaferSanerSchools: Transforming school cultures with restorative practices. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 16(2), 5. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/openview/251073ea464d08b083271b718cf6cdd9/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=33810
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