Every school is different, and school leaders are similarly varied in their approach to behavior management. As a school leader, there are a lot of reasons you may not have a formal positive behavior program. Perhaps you’re a disciplinarian, or you lack budget to fund a big program, or your district has other plans.
Whatever the reason, we know from talking to school leaders across the country that sometimes a big, resource-intensive positive behavior or PBIS program just isn’t in the cards. But that doesn’t have to mean you can’t reap the benefits of positive reinforcement strategies to affect student behavior and school culture.
It’s about recognition
While there are a lot of factors that make a formal program powerful, the key impact factor of PBIS is that it gives adults in school a structured opportunity to recognize students when they do something right—to mentor them, reinforce that behavior, and build positive relationships between students and staff.
In addition, well-designed positive recognitions can address a segment of your school population that often goes unnoticed. The middle-of-the-road performers, who go unrecognized for their academics, mostly stay out of trouble, but may be overlooked when it comes time for recognition. As one of our favorite Hero champions, Steve Whittle, said, positive behavior reinforcement is a way to show students like this that they can participate in the reward culture. That they can be good kids.
For kids like these, achievable moments of recognition can be transformative.
Everyday positive behavior in action
At Hero, we’re built to be extremely customizable, which gives us the ability to support a broad variety of positive programs. Because of this, we’ve helped schools set up programs ranging from the simple to the extremely complex. In short, we know how schools get started recognizing students in a positive way.
TIP: Often times, schools use positive behavior recognition or PBIS to address negative behaviors. For example, if you want to address period tardiness, you can reward students for getting to class on time. If you’re interested in doing this, you can find more information on creating a positive behavior matrix here.
Choosing the behaviors that you want to reinforce will depend entirely on your school and on your goals. Maybe it’s following the dress code. Maybe it’s getting to class on time. If you want to encourage students to do things that are above and beyond, consider recognizing students for random acts of kindness or campus beautification. Again, what you recognize will depend entirely on your goals and your administrative style.
Once you’ve chosen what you want to recognize, consider the rewards—and remember, positive behavior rewards don’t have to be complicated. There are plenty of rewards like dress-down days, lunch line fast passes, and others that have zero budget impact.
TIP: When planning positive behavior rewards, don’t overlook the potential of community partners. Local restaurants, office supply stores, and others are often willing to partner with your school. As with many things in life, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Who will do the recognizing
Many types of recognition work great in the classroom. Getting to class on time, participation, and random acts of kindness are great examples of behaviors that teachers can recognize on a regular basis.
Some schools will choose to recognize key school-wide behaviors (like dress code adherence) in homeroom, or in first period. With the right tools, your staff can record these reinforcements in almost no time.
There are a lot of reasons, however, that you may not want to involve your teaching staff, especially at the beginning—maybe you expect too much resistance, or maybe you feel you need to protect their instruction time. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that you can get started with everyday positive behavior reinforcement anyway.
If this sounds like you, remember that there are a lot of things that your administrative team can recognize every day in the halls at your school. Things like campus beautification, lunch tray pick-up, random acts of kindness—really anything that you want to reinforce.
A reason to be positive
No matter what your goals are for approaching positive reinforcement, one thing is clear—recognizing students in a positive way shows students that you’re paying attention to the good things they do, encourages them to repeat those behaviors, gives more students the opportunity to shine, and builds relationships between students and staff.
If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: Sure, positive behavior reinforcement can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. With just a few simple strategies, you could get started today.
If you’re a Hero customer wondering how to get started with PBIS, contact your customer success manager—they would love nothing more than to help you get rolling.
Not using Hero, but interested in how Hero makes it easy to roll out new rewards and recognitions? Reach out to us any time to see a demo and learn what Hero can do.