Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Experience at PBIS

Very recently, I was given the opportunity to join a group that provided me with the opportunity to present at my county’s administrative building. I was presenting on behalf of PBIS, or Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Usually, only teachers and administrators present at that event, but my school’s assistant principal decided that it would be very unique and powerful if students presented instead.
The presentation itself was about what programs my school had put into place to prevent troublesome behaviors that we had pinpointed from data. The program that I was presenting for was the Student Advisory Planning Team. I was invited into it, even though it’s not an exclusive program, to plan advisory lessons for students, by students. Advisory is a thirty-minute period in between our first and second blocks. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, students go to their teachers to conference grades, study, and anything else to help them in that class. On Wednesday, however, students go to advisory, a class that acts as homeroom, where forms can be handed out, SATs can be taken, and valuable lessons can be taught.
Having lessons in advisory provides an opportunity for students to plan lessons in the form of the Student Advisory Planning Team. As a team, we meet up once at the beginning of each semester to discuss what we deem important subjects to address in the form of lessons. The ideas are written up on a board and the students call dibs on which lessons they want to plan. From there, the groups would plan the lessons in their free time and turn the lesson plans in and get them checked by an administrator.
Having students plan the advisory lessons benefits the school in a surprising amount of ways. The biggest pro about it is that it strengthens the school community vibe. When students are placed in a position of power, like planning school-wide lessons, they are more eager to be involved in the school community. It also makes advisory more enjoyable for students that aren’t participating in the Planning Team, despite the fact that the team isn’t selective. Because students planned the lesson for other students, the lesson tends to be more enjoyable to learn for them.
The main reasons of establishing programs like this are to cut down on bad behavior and strengthen school interest, but there are so many ways to do it. The most important aspect to have, however, is that the students are working with the teachers to accomplish real, tangible results, not worksheets. But, with requirements as few as that, there are unlimited ways to carry this out.
Susan Ohanian, for example, set up an extracurricular activity in which students gave up their lunch blocks to write rather than doing the misbehaviors I mentioned. The lure of a positive activity that a teacher set up prevented kids from loitering around the bathrooms and doing other misbehaviors. “The lure of writer’s workshop… the promise of peace and quiet.” (Caught in the Middle, 2001). Once the students were intrigued, Susan worked with the students to better their writing and eventually publish a real anthology. Susan Ohanian executed that very well. She worked with students to create real results and through doing it, prevented undesirable behavior.
            Another possibility could be something like an administration discussion. Students could go there and state their opinions. They would work with one another and the administration, perhaps making new school rules or organizations. They would obviously be connected to the teachers through talking with them. They would also churn out lots of improvements, making the school a better place.
It’s very important to have organizations like these in place, not only to prevent bad behavior, but also to teach students important skills, primarily teamwork. Students working with administration also yields lots of results like school being better or books being published. Having organizations like these in place also increase the students’ eagerness for school and the other aspects of their lives, which boosts morale.
I hope that administrators or teachers reading this can utilize the traits that all of the aforementioned organizations share to create their own unique organizations that benefit their school and students in many ways.
Ohanian, Susan. Caught in the Middle: Nonstandard Kids and a Killing Curriculum. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001. Print.

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