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Diagnostics & Behavioral Services » PBIS/Behavioral Intervention Information and Resources

PBIS/Behavioral Intervention Information and Resources

Key Components of a Positive Behavior Intervention Supports Program

Step 1 - Behavioral Expectations - Tier 1 supports of positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) consists of rules, routines, and physical arrangements that are developed and taught by school staff to prevent initial occurrences of behavior the school would like to target for change.

For example, a school team may determine that disrespect for self, others, and property is a set of behaviors they would like to target for change. They may choose the positive reframing of that behavior and make that one of their behavioral expectations. Respect Yourself, Others, and Property would be one of their behavioral expectations.

Research indicates that 3-5 behavioral expectations that are positively stated, easy to remember, and significant to the climate are best. At the end of the year, a researcher should be able to walk into the school and ask ten random students to name the behavioral expectations and 80% or better of the students should be able to tell the researcher what they are and give examples of what they look like in action.



Step 2 - Labeling Appropriate Behavior in Actions The school team would then build a matrix (graph) listing the behavioral expectation in a horizontal row. There would be column labels above the behavioral expectations listing all the areas in the school where this behavior could be:

  1. Taught
  2. Modeled
  3. Practiced
  4. Observed

For example, in a middle school the columns might include: 1) commons area, 2) cafeteria, 3) gymnasium, 4) bus, 5) hallway, 6) restroom, and 7) sidewalks. The building leadership team would choose two or three examples of what respecting self, others, and property would look like in each of these areas. For example, respecting property in the bathroom would be to "Use the amount of paper towels needed. A good amount would be two." Another example of showing respect for others in the bathroom might include "Be sure to flush the toilet when finished."

Similarly, within each classroom, teachers would create their own matrix with classroom routines used as column labels.  For example, in a middle school classroom, routines might include: 1) entering/exiting classroom, 2) teacher-lead instruction, 3) collaborative-group work, 4) independent work, and 5) transitions. Each teacher (or teachers in grade-level or department teams) would select two or three examples of what respecting self, others, and property would look like within each routine.  For example, respecting self when transitioning may look like 1) checking the smart board for instructions, 2) getting the needed materials, and 3) quickly and quietly shifting between tasks, activities, or locations.


Step 3 - Teaching Appropriate Behavioral Actions - The building leadership team would then decide how they were going to teach these behaviors to the students.

  • Some schools choose to have stations and rotate all the children through various locations where the adults act out the appropriate behaviors relevant to each area.
  • Some schools choose to show a non-example first and then the appropriate example last. After adults model the appropriate behavior, students emulate the new behavior before they rotate to the next learning station. Adults give feedback to the students on their performance during the training, to alleviate any misrules they may begin.
  • In addition, each teacher explicitly teaches students how to engage in expected behavior within each classroom routine. For example, a teacher may explain how to be respectful during cooperative group work, ask a group of students (who have been pre-taught) to model respect during a role-played cooperative group, play a quick thumbs up/down game to have students identify examples/non-examples of expected behavior, and then assign students a cooperative group work assignment and monitor students’ behavior. While monitoring, the teacher can provide immediate feedback to students who are and are not engaging in respectful behavior and quickly take data to assess how well students’ responded to the instruction.

Step 4 - Observing and Praising Appropriate Behavioral Actions (e.g., rewards/incentives) - The building leadership

team would also determine how they intended to "catch" students exhibiting the appropriate behaviors. Specific praise is extremely important in increasing the reoccurrence of appropriate behavior.

  • Some schools decide to give out small pieces of paper labeled as "gotchas".
  • All staff hand the gotchas with specific praise to students as they witness appropriate behaviors in the common areas.
  • Within classrooms, teachers would also use specific praise to recognize students engaging in expected behaviors within classroom routines. 
  • If the school has adopted a gotcha, ticket, or token system, the teacher would also incorporate that system into his or her classroom to recognize appropriate student behavior.