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PBIS - Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Hello and welcome to this week's podcast - this week I sat down with my friend and recently accredited Doctor, Karen Robbie.

Karen has spent 23 years teaching and has always wanted to give back to education by helping develop teachers to bring best practices into the classroom.

She is currently working at the University of Connecticut as a research associate to understand what really works when teaching children, and she does a lot of work in schools and organizations to help schools adopt and practice the PBIS system.

But what is PBIS?

“PBIS stands for positive behavior interventions and supports, and is a framework for schools and districts that helps them identify how they respond to student behaviors, but also to prevent and support some of the more contextually inappropriate behaviors.”

It boils down to making better decisions about teacher intervention and is a methodology that can be used to manage the entire educational institution.

Whilst it focuses on teaching through positive reinforcement, PBIS is not an ‘everyone gets a medal pat on the back well done’ framework - it focuses on intervention across the behavioral board.

By adopting a common language and a common vision, PBIS works across all levels of learning and is designed around a 5:1 ratio of positive praise to intervention in a classroom.

But it does not focus solely on classroom behavior.

PBIS asks:

“How does everybody in this school respond and provide support to students' behavior, and how do we provide additional support for the kids that need it most?”

This goes beyond the day-to-day classroom operations, it digs into how to collect classroom data, how to interpret it, and how to support students and staff simultaneously.

So if you’re new to PBIS, how can you start to implement some of its principles?

‘One area to start is with defining expectations, and explicitly teaching them’

Particularly as we are coming back from virtual learning and into the classroom, it’s easy to assume that students know how to act.

● When to talk

● When to raise their hands

● How to ask for help

If you are explicit with your expectations of their behavior, there is no room for false expectations. These behaviors are not only applicable in the classroom but also play a part in life after education.

Taking 5 minutes at the start of the lesson to set out your expectations can have a huge benefit on the behavior of the class, as well as cultivating actions that will enhance future employment prospects.

That's why the campaign is called ‘Back to Basics’. It’s all about reinforcing the basic classroom expectations that students may not be familiar with after 2 years of online learning.

And the best thing about this campaign, alongside the rest of the resources available, is that it is free to teachers!

Where can we get the resources? has all the information you need on positive behavioral intervention, with tons of resources on how you can build systems in your classroom to help support positive behavior.

It’s all high quality, evidence-based content that is backed by academic institutions, and has easy to access documents, e-books, learning videos, and webinars.

Here are three pieces of content that you might find particularly useful:

Supporting and responding to students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs

This guide provides direct information on key practices to support students, particularly in relation to their emotional and social needs.

Habits of effective practice

Discusses how you can create habits around the 5:1 ratio of positive to corrective interventions so that your teaching and appraisal become automatic.

Multi-tiered systems of support in the classroom

Explains the three-tiered approach to individualized, targetted, and universal support, along with how your actions can be adjusted to work across all tiers.

What is Karen Robbie’s one message to all early-years educators?

“Praise praise praise!”

Give them loads of positive feedback when they are doing things right - there is proven research that students engage more, and stay on task better when they are given proper, specific praise.

It can be difficult to find praise for a disruptive student, but here is one trick to revert the would-be negative intervention.

When you spot a student doing something wrong, as you are opening your mouth to intervene, look for a student that is doing something good. Then refocus your efforts on demonstrating their positive behavior for the rest of the class to see.

Remember that for every one preventative intervention, you should have already made five constructive interventions. Try counting how many of each you make in a typical lesson, you might be surprised at how you do!

This discussion was part of my half-hour chat with Karen Robbie, which you can find here as part of my regular podcast.

If you found the topics of our conversation useful then make sure you subscribe for more insightful conversations and share with your colleagues to help build more positive learning environments. See you next week!

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