Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Encouraged, a much belated update

Just stopping in to give a very overdue and brief update on our school's implementation of PBIS. 

Of note, there has been an administrative change at our school this year.  One headmaster left for another district as our school's restructuring plans were being finalized.  The new structure moved us from two headmasters to one principal and an assistant principal.  The remaining headmaster was chosen as principal and we hired a former teacher from a neighboring district as assistant principal.  The assistant principal comes from Beecher Elementary, a school using Responsive Classroom.  In a lovely show of irony, the headmaster who left became principal at a school in a district that uses Responsive Classroom system wide

In addition, new staff members have joined the "behavior committee" and bring their responsive rather than controlling style to group.  Over the summer some of the committee attended training in Responsive Classroom and saw how well it can complement PBIS.

Updates on the program and training were provided to the school/parent community over the summer.

Within the first month of school, an informational meeting for parents was held by the "behavior committee."  Most parents were very appreciative to have a time for discussion and questions.  I commend the school for providing information proactively. 

At that informational meeting what was outlined is not the "canned" version of PBIS with extrinsic rewards at its core.  Rather, it was very encouraging to hear that the committee has been mindfully tailoring a program specific to our needs as a community of learners.  In particular, BCS will not be using a system of external motivators.  We seem to be taking the best parts of PBIS - consistency, information gathering, well articulated expectations - and combining them with a more responsive format.  Noted were the importance of building positive relationships, providing meaningful learning experiences, and meeting the needs of the full array of students - those behaving regularly to those who struggle daily with behavior. 
It was explained that teachers will have autonomy to decide what classroom management works best for the students in their classrooms.  Teachers are being encouraged (and hopefully supported), to reduce (and even eliminate) the reliance on "class-wide" punishments/incentives such as needing a certain number of stars for the class to get a reward.  Students have shared how detrimental this type of system is for developing a positive, caring community.  As my daughter, Emma, stated "they create enemies kid to kid and kid to teacher." 
I am encouraged to be told our district is not just picking up PBIS and slapping it on our students and teachers.  I am encouraged by the personnel changes and that responsive-minded staff have joined the committee.  I am encouraged by the sharing of information.  I hope the goal of helping children develop responsibility and the desire for behaving well in an appropriate and engaging learning environment remains in sight as time goes on. 
If you are visiting this site because your school is adopting PBIS and you have issues with the program I would encourage you to speak up.  It seems voices may have been heard here in Bethany.  I remain very encouraged as the year progresses.

My best,

~Aimee Cotton Bogush