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PBIS program a work in progress

Friday, February 24, 2012

Clay Community School (CCS) administrators learned more proactive -- versus reactive -- ways to modify negative student behaviors during an in-school training session at Staunton Elementary School (SES) Thursday morning.

In recent years, CCS has slowly implemented the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) system in each of its schools, with the exception of Jackson Township Elementary School, which uses a the Jackson Township Elementary Character Education Program.

"Traditionally, misbehavior in the classroom gets the most attention, and good behavior isn't as outwardly acknowledged," CCS Educational Consultant Bonnie Ave said, "but PBIS equalizes the amount of attention given to students who exhibit positive behaviors."

After the PBIS training, Ave told The Brazil Times many of the corporation's schools are still in the planning stages of PBIS.

"The program involves several useful tips. It's a school-wide system to prevent misbehavior," Ave said. "We are using a positive type of peer pressure to make better students and better citizens."

Ave said she's seen the PBIS program reduce the number of office referrals and help create a calm and productive environment.

"First, we define what behaviors we expect from students on a daily basis, and then, we teach what it means to be respectful and responsible," Ave said. "We monitor students to look for those who demonstrate the behaviors we want to see, and acknowledge them with hopes of shrinking the number of misbehaviors."

Staunton Elementary School has utilized the PBIS system for approximately five years, and the school has a committee of teachers leading their colleagues including fifth-grade teacher Dustin Jorgensen, second-grade teacher Kristi Jackman and first-grade teacher Mavery Quinn.

"The program makes good behavior the 'cool-thing' to do and gives them the incentive to want to behave well," Jorgensen said. "The kids want to choose responsible actions, and it's exciting when they are acknowledged for doing something right."

Officials say the implementation of PBIS is also helping the students to learn to be autonomous and accountable.

"A lot of (the positive behavior) happens in the lunchroom or during recess," Quinn said. "We started in the hallways and restrooms and are now building a consistency in the classrooms."

Jackman added, "We've changed the number of students who go to lunch at the same time, which makes the environment more conducive to independent decision making."

Ave said SES students have really responded to the school's efforts to recognize those who appear on their "Making A Difference" board.

"There isn't a student in the school who couldn't tell you what their "be"-attitudes are," Ave said, "be respectful, responsible, be safe and be a learner."

Ave said Northview High School (NHS), Clay City Jr./Sr. High School (CCHS) and North Clay Middle School (NCMS) will kick their PBIS programs off in Fall 2012.

Ave added PBIS encourages teachers to acknowledge and reward positive behavior with brief, "business-like" recognition through the use of gestures, verbal praise and appropriate touching, such as a pat on the back to provoke positive behaviors in the future.

Jackson Township Elementary School is the only school within Clay Community Schools that does not participate in the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support program. Instead, Principal Jeff Fritz has implemented a more personalized character education program.

"We don't use PBIS because (our character education program) has been so successful, and our staff has embraced it so well," Fritz told The Brazil Times. "I'm a big history buff, and this program is perfect because it uses (people who dress up as) historical figures to demonstrate the different types of characters we'd like to see."

Fritz added there are 33 different character aspects, and the school advocates one per school week.

"There are a lot of people in history who've exhibited these characteristics, and it's like they learn two lessons in one (both history and behavior)," Fritz said. "They are more productive and responsible."

Fritz learned about the character education program after a personal contact in Georgia recommended the program to Fritz when he heard about it on a radio show.

"This week's character is 'thriftiness,'" Fritz said.

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