Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS)

Positive Behavior Support refers to a coherent system of behavioral expectations within an entire school or district. The underlying themes of PBIS are teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject, and implementing consistent expectations from class to class and adult to adult.

Typically, a team of representative members of the school or district leads the PBS process. The team is comprised of administrators, classified staff, classroom teachers, special education teachers, ELL teachers, bus drivers, and school psychologists. The team, with input from all staff, determines between 3-5 behavioral expectations everyone will focus on. The expectations are positively stated and easy to remember. Rather than telling students what not to do, the school will focus on the preferred behaviors.

The team then creates a matrix of what the behavioral expectations look like, sound like, and feel like in all the non-classroom areas, including the bus, cafeteria, library, restroom, playground, hallways, computer lab, etc. The team also determines how the behavioral expectations and routines will be taught in and around the school.

Another activity for the PBIS team is to determine an acknowledgment system, or “reward” program. Acknowledgments are given to students as a way to label and recognize appropriate behavior. Examples of rewards are “gotcha tickets” that go into the box for a weekly drawing, a voucher for the student store, first in the lunch line, or extra recess time. An acknowledgment can also take the form of a positive interaction with an adult such as “good job!” or a smile and a wink.

The PBIS approach is individualized to each school and classroom. PBIS schools use school-wide and classroom positive reinforcement to promote expected student behavior, teach behavioral expectations like academic skills, and use data-based information to guide intervention and management. The research indicates that schools using this approach have dramatically reduced discipline problems and increased staff satisfaction.


Lizette Berryessa, SWIS Facilitator


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