Managing a Classroom Using PBIS Strategies

September 29, 2011 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM • Andrew Krugly

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Your school is beginning to implement or has implemented Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS), the school-wide behavior management plan that emphasizes prevention and positive modeling in order to improve academic performance among all students, yet students are still disruptive in class. What do you try next?

Join Andrew Krugly for our next RTI Talk as he answers your questions about establishing a positive, productive classroom environment and offers specific tips for improving student behaviors and attitudes so that learning can become the primary focus.


What are some general strategies that can be easily employed in a co-taught English class (2 teachers)?
Andrew Krugly
When co-teaching, both teachers should be equal. One is not an aide for the other. Therefore, both teachers should be using the same strategies that are in place in the school’s Universal Tier. I would use the two teachers to really help more with differentiation techniques and differentiated instruction than for PBIS and behavior. That way the specific academic needs of more students can be met, which in turn will keep more children on-task and engaged in learning.
How do you get teachers to understand the need to develop skills in the area of culturally responsive practices? How can you teach them about the cultural mismatch between students and teachers that so often occurs in classrooms?
Andrew Krugly
I would suggest some diversity training. Teachers need to know that in many cultures children will not look at the teacher when they are in trouble, yet very often teachers say, ”look at me when I am speaking to you.” The children don’t and the teacher gets angrier. So you might want to look into some diversity training for your entire staff.
Michelle Danko
What are some Tier 3 interventions for ADD kids?
Andrew Krugly
My first reaction to this is that just because a student has ADD does not make him a student in need of Tier 3 interventions. This student needs interventions that will help him be successful in school. Most of these are probably Tier 2 interventions. It depends what the student is doing that is causing problems. Many ADD kids are successful, but their behaviors just bother the teacher. In some instances teachers should be more flexible. For instance, sometimes these kids need to stand or walk around as sitting is hard for them. Walking around does not mean they are not listening (if they really have ADD). Kids sitting on bumpy seats or even on Bosu Balls (used at a gym for ab exercises) are often helpful. I once had an ADD student who just bounced. It drove the teacher crazy. We wrapped bungee cords around the base of the students chair so he could bounce his legs there and not disturb the teacher or the class. Behavior charts (which have been addressed in other answers here) are also very helpful, as is the Tier 2 intervention of Check In/Check Out (also discussed in other answers here). Lastly, there are the basic things like preferential seating, teacher often touching the student, a hand signal to the student, the student repeating back directions, etc.
Are there recommended PBIS strategies for encouraging students to engage in/participate in and complete the classroom work?
Andrew Krugly
One of our 4 expectations at our school is BE HERE AND BE READY, and completing work and participating are some of the specific behaviors that fall under that expectation. If a child who does not normally participate does, that child needs to be rewarded with a ticket or gotcha and told exactly why they are receiving it. They need that reinforcement. If you have many children that do not participate (or do not raise hands), then I would just start calling on kids. Kids need to understand they are responsible for being active participants in class regardless of whether they raise their hands or not. Many of my teachers would have all the kid’s names on popsicle sticks and just pull a stick and that was who should respond. I would also make sure that your instruction is more activity based and active vs. passive. Lastly, for the child not completing work, try breaking the work into smaller chunks and using a large visual timer on that student’s desk. If the child gets to the line you drew on the paper (as the first chunk), then they get a ticket or a gotcha. Then re-set the timer and move on to the next chunk.
Detra Bonner
What are some helpful hints for high schools that need PBS but have yet to begin? What are your recommendations for a starting point for various school personnel at various levels?
Andrew Krugly
The starting point for high schools is no different than the starting point for elementary and middle schools. A team needs to be developed and it needs to be a cross cut of the school – maybe one person from each department. Then the team needs to be trained by someone from the PBIS Network or a consultant. Creating expectations and a behavior matrix will be the first order of business.
michelle Danko
What are some Tier 2 interventions for ODD students when removing kids from the classroom isn't an option?
Andrew Krugly
An ODD student is definitely a student who will need Tier 2 or Tier 3 supports. The Universal curriculum is not going to be effective for this child. You might want to have the school social worker or school psychologist do an FBA (Functional Behavior Analysis). The reason for this is that you are really going to need to examine the antecedent behavior (what happens right before the outburst) and also explore what the child is looking for – getting attention, avoiding something, or avoiding work. In determining these things, it will help you make changes in the room or changes for the particular student to minimize the outbursts. I would also look at an intervention called BANKING TIME. This intervention involves pairing the student up with a staff member that the student connects with. These staff members meet with the kids once or twice a week for an activity or a pep talk. (For example, my PE teacher would play basketball twice a week for 10 minutes with an ODD student. During the game, they would just chat. This happened REGARDLESS of the student’s behavior – it was not a reward – it was someone for the child to connect with.) Sometimes children with ODD like to be seen as helpers, so having them help out in the kindergarten or first grade classes as either a reward or as a way to start they day (so they entered the room feeling important) was very helpful. Lastly, if a child is so incredibly disruptive, sometimes you might have to have someone come and remove the student. I don’t think it is always the answer, but sometimes it does need to happen. When this will happen should be worked out with the teacher, and the Tier 2 or 3 teams ahead of time, so the teacher does not have to fear repercussions due to calling for help.
Beverly Collins
How do you get teachers to be consistent with implementing PBIS strategies.
Andrew Krugly
Consistency is a hard thing to achieve. It will not happen right away. It took us a year. For instance, with homework, we had a hard time deciding how we were going to handle this. We eventually decided to say that three missed assignments in a two-week period would equal one ODR (Office Discipline Referral). The other way to maintain or achieve consistency is that during the first year, you might make sure that you leave time at every staff meeting to discuss these issues, so that the entire staff is on the same page. Also, the secretary of our Universal Team would send the minutes of our team meetings out to the entire staff.
Ann Stern
The teachers who are most in need of help often are defensive and very afraid to admit that they need new strategies. How do you handle that?
Andrew Krugly
I would suggest weekly meetings with a team of teachers and the universal team or the Tier 2 team. That way there is a much smaller group and the teacher in need of help my feel more comfortable. Additionally, if others know of some issues in the classroom, they can ask the teacher – proactively – how things are going with a particular student.
Rose Becerril
How can school counselors support classroom teachers in managing their classroom? What type of PBIS interventions can we assist with?
Andrew Krugly
Usually we let our counselor help out with Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions, as they often require more time and more intensity. We established a time during the day when each grade level got 45 minutes with ALL the support staff (speech, reading, counselor) and we used that time for Tier 2 and 3 interventions (and kids from different classes would attend). The kids that were not getting Tier 2 and 3 interventions stayed with the teachers for Enrichment (i.e. Jr. Great Books), which is something that made our parent population very happy.
Matt Drewette-Card
What are the most important first actual (not ideological, academic, or theoretical) steps a high school needs to take to develop and implement a system of PBIS?
Andrew Krugly
The first actual steps would be to create a team - a cross section of the school to be the Universal Team. The principal should be a part of this team. The team needs to get trained by the PBIS Network or by a consultant. The team will create the 3-4 behavioral expectations and the behavior matrix. There are many things that will occur next - staff buy-in (answered in other questions), etc. It takes a few months to get started, and I would suggest only starting with Tier 1/universal implementation.
Karen Neifer
Please provide suggestions for schools that have not successfully "braided" their RTI and PBIS inititatives. That is, the school has kept the initiatives separate.
Andrew Krugly
PBIS IS RTI. Academic RTI consists of the same things as behavioral RTI. If you have seen a graphic of the RTI triangle ( or you can see that PBIS is RTI. I would suggest using these graphics to help you. Also, you might find the series of articles Integrating Academic and Behavior Supports Within an RtI Framework helpful.

Deborah Carter
What would you consider to be the "first steps" to begin the process of implementing a PBIS approach in a middle school?
Andrew Krugly
I think the first steps to beginning the process in either middle school or high school are the same. And they are the same as the steps taken for an elementary school. A Universal (Tier 1) Team needs to be established and the principal really should be a part of that team. If the PBIS Network is doing the training, they usually will not even begin if the principal is not present. That team ought to be trained by the PBIS Network or someone well versed in PBIS (a consultant). The team will first come up with expectations and a behavior matrix, then move into the rewards and consequences, and finally lesson planning and data collection. But the steps are the same regardless of the age group. The lessons and activities just need to be created so that they are age and developmentally appropriate.
How are parents kept informed about PBIS in the classroom and what are the best practices for involving parents in the PBIS process?
Andrew Krugly
Usually most schools have some sort of “code of conduct” booklet. We re-wrote ours so that it reflected PBIS. It talked about our expectations, cool tools, rewards (at Dewey they were called Tiger Tickets), and Office Discipline Referrals. The booklet had the behavior matrix and expectations in it. Additionally, in grades 3-5 our students had assignment notebooks. We have the school-wide expectations printed in the assignment book and there was a space for the children to write the classroom expectations as well. Additionally, teachers were to discuss PBIS as part of “Curriculum Night" or "Back to School Night,” which is an evening for just the classroom parents and the teachers. Lastly, I always devoted one PTA meeting to PBIS. Sometimes, it was to explain it to new parents, often it was to share data with parents so that they could see its value. You can download the Dewey Code of Conduct Booklet from the Dewey Elementary PBIS web page. Also on the OSEP Technical Assistance on PBIS website, there is a “family” tab that offers information on positive behavior support for families.
Lenoa Great Smith
Please supply some resources for tiered interventions that we could use to support students.
Andrew Krugly
Unfortunately, I cannot offer interventions without knowing what the issue is. However, the key to effective interventions is that they match the issues that the children are having. First I would go back and make sure your universal tier is firmly in place and in addition that you have increased the frequency of your rewards/gotchas. I will say that the most effective Tier 2 intervention that I have used for a group is Check In/Check Out also referred to as CICO. Here are links to several very good resources about CICO:Check-In/Check-Out Systems“Responding to Problem Behaviors in Schools,” by Deanne A. Crone, Leanne S. Hawken, and Robert H. Horner, is a very good book. It is available at  And the DVD – “The Behavior Education Program: A Check-In, Check Out Intervention for Students at Risk,” is a fantastic resource and staff training tool. It is also available at 
Kim Riley
What types of assessment tools may be used to ensure fidelity of PBIS implementation in an inclusive classroom setting? One or two ideas would be helpful, please.
Andrew Krugly
The Illinois PBIS system uses something called the Benchmark of Quality (BOQ) to address fidelity. It is a tool that allows you to evaluate where you are as a school with your implementation of PBIS. It also allows you to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie, so that you can improve your systems. Go to the Illinois PBIS Network site and take a look at the first three PDF files: BOQ Scoring Form, BOQ Rating Form, and BOQ Scoring Guide. You may also find the School Assessment Survey (SAS) located near the bottom of the Evaluation page helpful as well. Whether you are an inclusive setting or a non-inclusive setting should not make any difference in the fidelity of implementation.
Todd Jones
As we continue with our PBIS and RTI, how do we blend our RTI in the areas of Math and Reading with our PBIS?
Andrew Krugly
Academic RTI is the same things as behavioral RTI: A solid core curriculum, benchmark data, progress monitoring, a problem solving team, and the matching of interventions to the learning issues students face. If you have seen a graphic of the RTI triangle, then you can see that PBIS is RTI. There are academic systems and behavior systems, and they both operate in the same manner. There are three tiers. The object is to be proactive rather than being reactive and to find interventions that work for children to make learning (academic or behavioral) easier for them. Both sides of the triangle should have a problem solving team and collect data. The academic data is used to determine which students need more than the core (the regular curriculum). The behavioral data is used to determine which students need Tier 2 interventions that require more time and intensity than the core (the universal tier to PBIS and behavior curriculum). If you do not have a solid core curriculum on both sides of the triangle, you will see more and more kids moving to Tiers 2 and 3. A solid core can eliminate this. Math and reading are handled exactly the same way as behavior. There are additional resources in the Behavior Supports section of the  RTI Action Network website that you may also find helpful.
Todd Jones
In our school we have been implementing PBIS with good success at the Tier 1 and 2 levels. We are looking for help with our Tier 3 interventions for students needing intensive supports. What is out there and available to help us at this level?
Andrew Krugly
When you get to Tier 3 supports, you are often going to be looking at wraparound services. You will not be able to manage a child that needs Tier 3 supports only at school. You will need to have a series of meetings with ALL of the key players in the child’s life and work on a 24/7 plan for the child. The OSEP Technical Assistance Center on PBIS offers a great article that talks about wraparound services, Wraparound Service and Positive Behavior Support. Once you have a child who needs this much time, energy, and intensity of service, you cannot do it alone. We have had huge success with wraparound services. We have not only brought in the whole family (we got the siblings from other schools) but we have also brought in neighbors, a YMCA big brother, and in one case a local art therapist (as the student loved art), and involved everyone there in the plan.
Kim Riley
For at-risk students in Title I schools, including those with disabilities, what are the 5 top PBIS strategies to improve their behavior?
Andrew Krugly
PBIS should look the same whether you are a Title 1 school, in an inclusive setting, or working with students with disabilities (as would academic RTI). You are going to have the same components in Tier 1 – define, teach, remind, reward/celebrate, re-teach. That means expectations defined, behavioral lessons taught, pre-corrective and school-wide language that is proactive vs. reactive, celebrations and rewards, and re-teaching if necessary. You need school-developed criteria that move children from tier to tier, and you need a school problem-solving team. You might have a different team for each tier depending on the size of your staff. Specific strategies used, truly depend on the nature of the behavior issue. That is why it is so important to collect data (and why I like to much to help with that data collection as it allows you to really analyze that data). Once you determine the nature of the issue, then you must select a strategy that will match the issue. (Just as you would not give vocabulary exercises to a child that still needs to really focus on how letters and sounds go together.) The one thing I would say is that if you are not using Cool Tools – lessons that actually TEACH behavior to kids and use role playing, then you have a hole in your core or universal tier. We often make the false assumption that children know how to behave in school, when in fact many of them need to actually be taught how to behave in a school setting.
What are some ways you can recommend to easily track data on behavior?
Andrew Krugly
I know that there are others, and you can use Excel as well, but I used SWIS the entire time. It allows you to track, sort, organize by teacher, time, student, and date, basically anything you want. It allows you to customize any search and create customized reports and is VERY easy to use. AND….It makes wonderful graphs. It also has a section for your Tier 2 students as well. I think a year subscription to SWIS is around $200 and it is about $50 more for the Tier 2 portion. It is money well spent. You can see a free demo of it at: (NO, I do not work from them – just a fan!)
Brenda Stover
Is there a specific behavior plan/chart that seems to work better than any others?
Andrew Krugly
The best ones are tailor made for each student to specifically address his or her needs. I think the behavior charts that work the best are ones that are positive, have short intervals of time, have a very attainable goal that can be changed, have a reward the student selected (so that he or she is invested in the incentive), and only focus on one or two behaviors at a time. They also should not be cumbersome to the teacher and must be used consistently.
Brenda Stover
How can we effectively approach classroom teachers regarding possible changes in behavior monitoring/classroom discipline techniques?
Andrew Krugly
First, when starting PBIS, I would let the team that was trained talk to the staff. They will be excited, and then the excitement is coming from the team of peers. Second, our team decided (and I, as principal, reinforced) that each staff member (not just teachers) were to give at LEAST 10 gotchas a day. We monitored this, as our pads of tickets had 30 tickets in the pad, and they had a calendar (that was turned in) to mark when they started a new pad. This was not so there would be a repercussion, but so that we as a staff could monitor ourselves. We know that research says that teachers tend to only make 1.5 positive comments per hour per day to kids. (We shared this with the staff.) The rest is not negative, but it is just neutral. So we needed to change that and self monitor it. We did that only for the first year. Then when I both formally and informally observed in classrooms, I would collect DATA on positive comments made and to whom, the number of tickets given out during a lesson, how the children were behaving and how the teacher was interacting with the kids. (If you are using the Danielson Framework for Teaching, this is all in Domain #2.) It would become part of the teacher’s post-observation conference and final evaluation. It was an expectation, not a choice.
Maryann Martinez
What do you do when a student will not stop talking as a teacher is presenting a lesson?
Andrew Krugly
What makes this question such a good one is that it is isolating a specific behavior that you want to stop vs. talking about a bad student or even a student that talks too much. It is great that you have isolated it to the student talking when the teacher is talking. First, you must try and figure out what the child is seeking by talking while the teacher is talking. Is he seeking help of some sort? Is he seeking negative attention from peers? Or positive attention from peers? Is he seeking negative or positive attention from the teacher? Is he avoiding work? Is he doing it so that when it becomes time to work, he can say he does not know how to do it?

So, there are still a lot of questions to answer, as you do not want to reward the wrong thing. However, in the short term, I would try the following, it sounds like a lot of work, but it is going to be positive energy expended, rather than negative. I am assuming if you are involved in PBIS you have some reward system in place – some type of gotcha or ticket. You need to literally set a timer. Every 5 minutes, stop and reward two children for not talking while you are talking. Don’t include him every time, but include him more often, especially the first few times he is able to not talk while you are talking at the start. I do mean literally every 5 minutes that you are talking. When the tickets/gotchas are given, a very clear “thank you two for being so respectful and remaining quiet while I was talking,” needs to be given. This is positive language and will reinforce what is expected of this child (and the others). You might need to do this for an entire two weeks, but you should see results if you are consistent, remain calm, and only focus on this one behavior with this child. I am assuming other behaviors will bother you too, but focus only on this one first. There does need to be some cash-in for the gotchas/tickets regularly, so that he is earning a reward and has an incentive to meet the expectation.
Glenda Juarez
What resources are available in the community that parents can use to improve their children behavior?
Andrew Krugly
There is a tab on the OSEP Technical Assistance on PBIS website marked “family” that offers information on positive behavior support for families. There are some great suggestions and even sample parent letters there. I would also suggest to families that are struggling with a child at home, that they set up a behavior matrix of expectations similar to the ones you have in schools. 3-4 expectations, and different settings: morning before school, right after school, dinnertime, etc. This should be done with all positive language just like your school matrix. Then the parent can use some type of ticket/gotcha at home as well. I would suggest the parents use a different gotcha/ticket and not copy what the school is using. (I had a mother bring her son in at 4:30 one day and ask me to help her because he was being so disrespectful to her at home. After I got over the initial shock of her bringing him to me at 4:30 with a home issue, I helped them create a matrix and system. It worked wonders as now home and school were all using the same language with this child.) I would also use a PTA meeting forum one month to really discuss PBIS with parents, so that they truly understand it.
Caridad Gonzalez-Valdes
How can the teachers help the students when their parents are anxious?
Andrew Krugly
If parents are anxious, what would they be anxious about? If they are anxious about the Universal Tier (Tier 1), I think it needs to be made clear that it is for all students. If they are anxious about Tier 2 interventions, then I would suggest that the parents speak with either the principal or the social worker, who should both be a part of both the school-wide team and the Tier 2 team.
Kim Riley
Why are using PBIS strategies important for managing behavior in an inclusive classroom setting?
Andrew Krugly
PBIS strategies are just as important in an inclusive setting as they are in any setting. It is best if the entire school is involved so that everyone is speaking the same language to children and the expectations of children are the same in every setting within the school. PBIS emphasizes positive behavior through positive interactions with kids. Children need that in any setting.
Vance Sims
A pre-K student has become very defiant and can display aggressive behaviors. He will only work for that which he wants in that moment and has not been willing to work for a menu of reinforcers. The classroom is disrupted 10-20 times a day due to his behaviors. He has also run out of classroom 13 times this year. Do you have any suggestions for how to handle this situation?
Andrew Krugly
I am going to try and address the different situations here as best I can. That said, this is probably a child that needs Tier 2 supports meaning he will need more than just the core or universal tier of PBIS. You might consider having a problem-solving, team meeting about this child as well.

 I think it is great to have a menu of reinforces, however a pre-K child might be too young for a menu. I might only offer two choices and I might make one of the choices a bit distasteful to create a forced choice situation. The child still thinks he is in charge, but actually you are taking control back.

Are the reinforcers on the menu things that you have selected or things that the child has selected? You might try having him select one thing for the first hour and a second thing for the second hour (kids are fickle and what they want and like can change very quickly). You can also think of it this way…..what is most important to YOU - to have the child do his work, or for you to be in control of what he gets for doing the work? Right now he is very young, if it is more important that he do the work, then the “intervention for now” is that you give him what he wants for doing the work. Then you slowly make changes in the intervention. You give 2 choices--one that he will like and one that he won’t--nd he can make a choice. But the idea of an intervention is to avoid the power struggle and have him learn. If it means giving in to what he wants to work for – if he’ll work (and the request is within reason), then why not?

This child also probably needs a behavior chart of some sort. There should be very small time intervals, so he can get frequent rewards. It sounds like you should only have 2 behaviors on that chart – doing what is asked of him and staying in the room. No more than those two things at the start. You might start with 5-10 minutes intervals for reinforcement. Then work toward more time. This child needs more frequent rewards and reinforcement and those can be tiered as well. You can give him tickets or pennies for each interval so there is an immediate reinforcement. He can use those tickets or pennies to exchange for bigger rewards mid-day and at the end of the day. It is going to take time to work and it is going to take consistency on your part to bring the disruptions down. Use the same language and the same two behavior expectations all the time.

Now, the running out of the room does seem like an issue of safety. How many children do you have in the class and how many adults? If you are alone in the room, then I would suggest to your administrator that you might need another adult just to monitor the safety of him running out of the room, as there could be a liability issue. However, where does he go? Does he go far, or just outside of the room because he knows it pushes your buttons? If he is doing it just to push your buttons, and you have a second adult, I would always make sure someone knows where he is, but chasing him will probably give him positive reinforcement and cause him to run more. Is you administrator helpful with this student? In addition to the behavior chart, when he runs, you offer two choices: you come back and do your work and keep earning tickets, or you will have to see the principal. And, what happens right before he runs out of the room – knowing what the antecedent is will help you a great deal.

Are his parents involved? If not, they must be. You could even ask the parent to stay one day and help monitor his safety. Or if he runs, you immediately call home, so he sees a consequence.

I know I have written a great deal here, but there are so many things that I do not know, so I am trying to offer you a menu of things to try. Best of luck!
Srijaya N Char
Certain students tend to develop a negative attitude towards learning a second language. In our country there is compulsion to learn 3 languages (1) The medium of instruction in which they study (2) Our national Language (either as a third languge or second language) (3) Our regional language. The third language is dropped when they reach the 8th grade. The Second Language continues until they reach the 10th and is compulsory at the Board level. A number of students resent this compulsion and misbehave in the language teachers' classes. The medium of Instruction is our country is usually English in private schools. They are all good at it and it causes no problems. This negative attitude towards the regional language creates problems for the Second Language teachers. How do we go about it?
Andrew Krugly
This is a tough question to answer, because as I am thinking about it, I could see why children might resent the compulsory education of these three languages. I have two suggestions. First, if you are using PBIS, you need to ramp it up in the classes in which the children are not behaving according to your expectations. That means the expectations need to be even clearer and there ought to be rewards at more frequent intervals for the behaviors that you do want to see. Second, it might be really important to share with the kids WHY they have to learn these three languages and what the importance of each of them is. You might possibly set up some problems-based learning situations that force the children to work in all three languages in order to succeed and solve the problem. The more kids understand the reasoning behind what they are learning, the more invested they become.
What are you using as a universal screener for emotional-behavioral concerns in the classroom?
Andrew Krugly
That is a tough question, because there is really not a universal screener that I am aware of that you can administer to all children to benchmark their behavior. (There might be one that I am not aware of.) There is the BASC-2, but that is usually administered during a formal case study. We used two things at my school. First, we did take teacher recommendations into account when looking at kids that might need Tier 2 interventions. Secondly, we used our ODR (office discipline referral) system. After about 6 weeks of school we run a report from the School-wide Information System (SWIS) called “Referrals by Student.” After looking at the report you can very clearly see your kids needing Tier 2 and possibly Tier 3 supports. Kids who show up as having no ODRs or just one or two are clearly getting what they need from the universal/core curriculum that is in place for behavior.
James Moore
What do you do if PBIS Strategies don't seem to work?
Andrew Krugly
I look at this situation the way I look at a child who is having difficulty reading. First, is the universal tier being implemented with fidelity? Are all the parts in place? (When a colleague said to me, “we are doing PBIS, but we decided not to use Office Discipline Referrals or Cool Tools, and it is not really working. Can you help me?” My response was, “you are not really doing PBIS.” If you don’t implement they way it was intended with all the pieces of the universal tier in place, then you won’t get the intended results. If you do have everything in place, then the group of kids that it is not working for might be 20%-25%, and that would be normal. Those are the students who need "something else" in the form of Tier 2 and 3 supports. They need more time, more intensity, and interventions that are very specific to their areas of difficulty, just like the group of kids for whom the general reading curriculum does not work.
Stephanie Thomas
What strategies do you suggest to use with teachers who do not want to or have a hard time using PBIS in their classrooms?
Andrew Krugly
The first year was certainly rough. Some were really involved and others took a back seat. We had to feel our way through it. We also had to be open to making changes. We made a few changes to our matrix and also to our ODR (Office Discipline Referral). We had times when teachers could question each other for strategies. One teacher said it took too long to write out the tickets, so another teacher shared that she filled out and dated 10 tickets in the morning. This helped her to make sure she did 10. Then she would tell the children why they earned the ticket and just hand the ticket to the child, and the child was responsible for adding his/her name. That took her no time. One teacher shared that the top of our ODR took too long to fill out. The 4th and 5th grade teachers told that teacher, that they just had the children fill them out. So we had to be open to changes. However, after year one, it was an expectation, and when I was in rooms observing or evaluating, teacher/student relations, how discipline was being handled, and positive feedback to children were all a part of my observation feedback and eventually evaluations. See also answers to questions by Greg Nelson and Kris Kaase for more on this topic.
Sue Beres
What are the first steps one needs to take when implementing PBIS in a middle school?
Andrew Krugly
Middle school is an entirely different breed of its own, however, PBIS can and should work there in the same manner it does in an elementary school. The gotchas/tickets need to be more appealing to and developmentally appropriate for kids of that age group--as do the rewards and celebrations. I would start by showing some positive data that you can get from one of the feeder elementary schools that shows a change in behavior over time. You cannot argue with data! Then I would create a universal team – and make sure that it is a very representative team, so that this group can be the ambassadors to the rest of the school. Someone from your local or state PBIS office, or an outside consultant should train that team. Then that team should begin by coming up with the 3-4 expectations and starting to create the behavior matrix.
Stephanie Hamed Borowy
Given the multiple tasks already completed by the classroom teacher prior to instituting RTI, please explain what this classroom looks like...
Andrew Krugly
This classroom should look no different than any other classroom. There should be high quality instruction going on, learning should be active vs. passive, and kids should be engaged. The difference might be in the relationships and respect level you see in the room. Instead of reacting to situations that arise, the teacher would be proactive and using pre-corrections (which sounds very easy, but does take some time to get used to). So if children were going to start a “center type rotation" (just as an example), you would hear the teacher say, “before we start our centers today, let's have a reminder of what behavior looks like during this time. We are going to be respectful by ……, we are going to be caring by……, etc.” The language used would all be positive. It would not contain what the teacher does not want to see, but what the teacher does want to see.

Additionally, during transitions or even during instruction, the teacher should be handing out “gotchas,” tickets, or whatever is the school-wide reinforcer. In order to make the most impact and be meaningful, the teacher must tell the child what expectation he/she met in order to earn it, and the teacher must be as specific with that language as possible. (The gotcha or ticket is really window dressing – the explanation is the meat of beginning to change behavior and having children meeting the teacher’s expectations.) In this room you would see a matrix of behavioral expectations.

Once a week in this room you would see a behavior lesson. At my school every teacher in the building taught the same lesson on Monday or Tuesday and that was our focus for the week. Our universal team wrote the lesson, following a template, and the topic of the lesson was selected based on our analysis of the behavior data we had been collecting. So, to go back to the question – the classroom does not look different, but the language between the teacher and students and the language from student to student should be what changes. You would also NOT see any power struggles between teachers and students, as all of the consequences should be spelled out and be consistent throughout the school.
Greg Nelson
How do you manage to keep the buy in with staff given such a paradigm shift?
Andrew Krugly
That is something that everyone has to do together. It is a language change. I think it must be MODELED FROM THE TOP. We created a matrix for appropriate behavior at staff meetings. I used the language at staff meetings. I even gave “teacher tickets” one year at staff meetings. These were good for Starbucks cards that I asked the PTA to purchase for me. It was not about the Starbucks card, it was about being recognized. The teachers started to see that in themselves. Then we saw children not spending their tickets on rewards, but students setting goals for themselves. One student punched holes in his tickets and kept them on a ring. His goal was not to spend them; he just wanted to have 100 tickets by the end of the year. It was really cool to see the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic rewards. Also see the answers to the questions by Kris Kaase and Stephanie Thomas for more on this topic.
Joy Geraci
How can support staff sway disagreeing teachers that PBIS will alter their classroom for the better?
Andrew Krugly
As a principal we talked and talked about it. I let everyone have input into the expectations, we wrote our cool tools as teams, and we discussed our reward system together. However, our universal team that received the initial training had one person from every grade level team and every department (fine arts, PE, etc). Then team of staff members did the initial presentation to the entire staff, so that it was coming from their peers. That is VERY powerful. Then at some point, I (as the principal) said that it was not an option it was an expectation. When in classrooms, it became part of the observation process. (If you are using the Danielson Framework, it fits perfectly in domain 2.) Lastly, after everyone took a leap – we (The Universal Team) constantly shared data with the entire staff. As the staff started to see referrals go down and academic scores rising because more time was spent teaching and learning, the naysayers had to give in.
Kris Kaase
How did you get faculty buy in to implementing PBIS?
Andrew Krugly
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS REGARDING TEACHER BUY-IN. I am going to address them all here. First, as with anything, there are always going to be those who do not agree or buy-in. The hardest part of the buy-in that we had was about the reinforcement. Teachers felt as if we were paying children to behave. My response was "Yes, we are giving an extrinsic reward. But eventually the reward will become intrinsic. But part of this reward is changing OUR behavior and US learning to be more positive." Secondly, I would tell them, “so, we are giving kids a ticket and they are behaving to get it. You have these children six hours a day. Isn’t it just easier to have them behave for a ticket, than you expending so much negative energy reacting, reprimanding, and disciplining kids?” But perhaps the most powerful thing that I use is the information that strict behavioral theorists use. Everyone does everything to either get something or to get away from something. Sure, we are all here teaching because we love kids and it is filled with intrinsic rewards, but would you do it for free? We are all getting the extrinsic reward of a paycheck. Further, letting the team that was trained, that should be a good cross-section of the school, do the presenting is very, very powerful. In a way, it puts peer pressure out there. The team that is trained already has worked through the tough issues themselves and therefore can present answers to the questions the staff at large will have, as the small group has already grappled with the issues. A trainer from the PBIS Network, or a private consultant trainer, in my opinion, is the best way to go with your universal team. Showing positive data is also something that really changes the opinion of people. At first you can use data from other schools, but then start sharing your data with the staff monthly. When they see the efforts paying off, more buy-in occurs.

Related Reading from

Related Reading
  • Crone, D.A. & Horner, R.H. (2003). Building Positive Behavior Support Systems in Schools: Functional Behavioral Assessment. New York: Guilford Press.

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