SANBORN—A different way of encouraging positive behavior among students is taking flight this year at Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Middle School.
The school is adopting the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports framework, which principal Corey Ramsey said is used in elementary and middle schools across the country.
“I’ve had it in pretty much every middle school that I’ve worked in,” said Ramsey, who took the reins as the district’s middle school principal earlier this year.
The Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn Elementary began its own PBIS initiative last academic year.
PBIS is a three-tiered system that helps teachers promote positive behaviors in their students. The three tiers are as follows:
- Tier 1: Schoolwide policies geared toward all students.
- Tier 2: Additional support to students at risk of developing problematic behavior.
- Tier 3: Intensive, individual support to students to help improve their behaviors.
In a survey Ramsey sent to middle school staff earlier this summer, one of the top concerns the faculty identified was behavioral issues and developing consistency when it comes to student discipline.
A particular emphasis of the middle school’s PBIS system will be to focus on examples of positive behaviors students exhibit, not simply calling out negative behavior.
“If we’re giving attention to these negative behaviors all the time, we’re actually reinforcing that negative behavior because we’re giving the students what they want, which is the attention,” he said. “They don’t care if it’s positive or negative, they just want the attention.”
By having faculty instead call attention to students showcasing positive behavior, the goal would be that students who misbehave will see they can receive similar attention for good reasons.
The PBIS committee came up with an acronym — WINGS — that lists the important behaviors and characteristics the school believes students need to be successful:
- Work together.
- Never give up.
- Generous in spirit.
- Show respect.
Whenever staff and community members catch people in the district who demonstrate WINGS qualities, they can fill out an online form where they describe the positive action and who did it. The school then will be able to highlight whoever it was that displayed a WINGS attribute in the district’s newsletter.
The school also intends to roll out “Hawk Tickets” later this fall that will be given to students who are seen showcasing positive behaviors.
The school is still determining what kinds of rewards the tickets can earn for students, but Ramsey said there could be schoolwide prizes if students collectively rack up a certain number of tickets as well as individual prizes.
Instructional coach Lindsy Holst said the staff at the middle school developed a chart that will help guide expectations for positive student behaviors in different times of the school day, such as when arriving or departing school, walking through the hallways, using the restrooms, eating lunch or playing at recess.
“Our big push is that positive interaction with students front-loaded will help with academics, it will help with their social and emotional well-being, it will help alleviate bullying,” Holst said.
Ramsey acknowledged how PBIS will be another new aspect of the school to which teachers will need to adjust, in addition to a new building and a Project-Based Learning course that started this year. However, the principal complimented the faculty members for how well they have taken the changes in stride.
“I’ve just been really, really impressed at the attitude toward all these new things that we put in front of them this year,” he said.
“It’s just been really cool because that’s not always been my experience as an educational leader in schools. So it’s a big shout-out to the staff here.”