Classroom Discipline

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

One of the foremost advances in school-wide discipline is the emphasis on school-wide systems of support that include proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. [1] The PBIS system teaches positive behavior in classrooms, hallways, recess, buses, restrooms, and any other area controlled by the school.


Sometimes educators forget that students haven't been taught the correct behavior at home or have developed poor behavior due to a dysfunctional life. This may because they get limited interactions at home, have lenient parents, or for whatever reason aren't able to determine how they should behave. PBIS enhances the capacity of schools, families, and communities to provide an environment that creates a link between research, best practices, and the learning environment. The system makes poor behavior less effective or relevant for students. Good behavior is not only rewarded but also makes it clear to the student it gets their needs met.


PBIS focuses on:

PBIS Triangle
  • Outcomes: Academic and behavior targets that are endorsed and emphasized by students, families, and educators. (What is important to each particular learning community?)

  • Practices: Interventions and strategies that are evidence based. (How will you reach the goals?)

  • Data: Information that is used to identify status, need for change, and effects of interventions. (What data will you use to support your success or barriers?)

  • Systems: Supports that are needed to enable the accurate and durable implementation of the practices of PBIS. (What durable systems can be implemented that will sustain this over the long haul?) [2]

Much of the success of PBIS depends on how you teach children positive behavior. It takes some creativity on the part of the teacher and school to teach students in a way they really absorb the correct way of behaving. YouTube has videos which offer some help in this area:

You may be thinking that this is a lot of work and that we shouldn't have to be in the entertainment business to get students to behave. The fact remains that our students are bombarded by entertainment and technology everywhere they turn. If we are going to get their attention, we have resort to the same media. Besides, wouldn't you want to do whatever it takes to get control over student discipline?

What Do Teachers Say About PBIS?

In a recent course on curriculum at the University of Phoenix, educators who were students in the course discussed PBIS in their own experience:


Says Pauline, "I believe in PBIS; it does work especially if all the teachers buy into it and are consistent. We use it at our school - students receive points for going above and beyond in expected behaviour. They use these points at the school store and to 'buy' social time, etc. at weekly incentive programs. Considering that students don't have much time to socialize during the school day, most of them work hard just so they can be at the Friday social hour which most of the time is just time to hang out and talk with their friends. So many things have gone wrong with discipline and if we ever get a handle on this problem again, student learning and achievement is likely to improve."


pbis rewards

Tickets, certificates and coupons can be used as points toward a reward.

Says Lisa, "We implement PBIS in our school too. I am on the PBIS committee which meets to discuss how things are going and come up with other ideas and action plans to make improvements. It took a good year to get everyone on board and see results. After two years it was like I was teaching in a different school. The number of referrals have dropped tremendously and the vice-principal is now looking into some time of award for the dramatic change that has occurred. We do not have "social time" on our panther buck store menu but I think the older students would love that. I will have to suggest that to the committee, thank you!"


Pauline responds, "Students are constantly hearing about what they are doing wrong and being punished for; PBIS focuses on the positive things and the students appreciate that someone notices and rewards their good behavior. Many of the students are just looking for approval, I think, for someone to see or bring out the good in them. When they feel appreciated, they are more eager to please thus exhibit even more good behavior which in turn helps create a good learning environment."


Megan says, "I wish more teachers within my school would buy into the whole PBIS system. So many times I hear teachers talking about how bad certain students are and how they cannot believe that they behave for me. The difference is I choose to encourage and respond to my student's positive behavior instead of always responding to the negatives. I wish my administration would also buy into this. I think it would totally change the atmosphere within my school. I also think that it would change the attitudes of the teachers within my school. I think they often times get so caught up in the negatives that they miss many of the positives. If we could change the focus, I think it would be better off for everyone involved."


A PowerPoint presentation on PBIS


Lisa concludes, "Having administration, teachers, staff, and students buy in to it is important for it to be effective. I know we say students should do things because they are supposed to but they enjoy being recognized and rewarded for doing good things. My son complains that teachers at his school don't give out their "roar bucks" when students are making good choices. Teachers do get busy and it slips their mind but if we set up this behavior management system and fail to do our part then why are the students going to continue to make those good choices? My son says he was trying hard to earn the bucks to buy something at the school store but he has given up on it."


You can use IAD's own reward system, the Mona Buck. You can get a copy of the Mona Buck and you have permission to distribute it as you wish.


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OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Illinois PBIS Network [Archive]

Wisconsin PBIS Network


PBIS Indiana

Missouri PBIS


Implementing Positive Behavior Support Systems in Early Childhood and Elementary Settings. - Provides plentiful research and breaks down the processes for effectively implementing positive behavior supports in schools. Step-by-step directions, sample forms, and examples make the processes easy to incorporate and understand.


The SAPR-PBIS Manual. - For all K-12 students and staff to benefit from positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), effective, evidence-based practices need to be in place schoolwide.


Positive Behavior Support at the Tertiary Level: Red Zone Strategies - This book describes a research-based model for creating intervention plans to modify extremely challenging behavior. Included are success stories and tools, including analysis forms, charts, and templates.