A familiar initiative in parts of the Greenfield Exempted Village School District is getting its first go in the high school this year. It’s called PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) and it’s a state program meant to facilitate a climate in schools that supports student well-being, academic achievement and success.
The program has already been implemented at the Greenfield Elementary and Greenfield Middle schools, but this is its first year at the high school. It’s all overseen by a committee of teachers, and this year will have the input of a student committee made up of high school students who already have knowledge of PBIS because they experienced it in middle school.
According to McClain High School Assistant Principal Randy Closson, the initiative is about the focus shifting from punitive measures to positive interactions and changing the mindset of how desired behaviors are achieved.
It starts with setting and communicating clear and consistently-defined expectations for students. There are posters in classrooms, in the hallways, and even in the bathrooms that clearly state the expected behaviors for those specific areas.
Students earn points for exhibiting the expected behaviors, and those add up. With accumulated points, students are able to make purchases in the rewards store, which is still being set up. However, Closson said students will be able to purchase not only items like pencils and lanyards, but will also be able to purchase experiences like pizza with the principal, a shout-out on Facebook, and a tour of the less-seen places at McClain like the tunnels or the rooftop.
Another piece of the program is data analysis and the ability to identify, evaluate and implement a strategy to improve behaviors through the information provided by the data.
An example Closson provided was a situation in the middle school where a high number of demerits were consistently being given for students coming to class unprepared. A look at the information provided through the data revealed that it was 15 students getting the lion’s share of the demerits. The students were met with and a plan was developed to help them change that behavior, which came down to a simple checklist posted in their lockers that they could consult before each class. After that, the number of demerits being given out dropped.
The initiative rewards the desired behaviors, and with the undesired behaviors the ability to identify the issues and intervene, providing guidance and support to help students be successful. And it helps provide skills that will serve students well beyond high school.
It’s not anti-discipline, Closson said, but more constructive discipline. Of course, there are still times when a student’s behavior warrants punitive measures, but the PBIS initiative is aimed at creating a positive conversation and positive growing and learning experiences that will not only help students right now and in their future, but also help to create a better place for students and adults.
“It’s a work in progress,” Closson said. “It’s going to grow. It’s going to change. It’s going to adapt. We will keep moving forward with students and staff to create a system that works for everyone.”
For more information about PBIS from the state, go to http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Student-Supports/PBIS-Resources. To keep up with things going on at the high school, go to the McClain High School Facebook page. For district news and updates, go to the district website at greenfield.k12.oh.us or go to the district’s Facebook page.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.