Schools take a new approach to
encouraging positive behavior
January 4, 2007
By Jill Sullivan Grueter
LONDONDERRY Last year, when
Matthew Thornton Elementary School Principal Carol Mack had her
staff trained for a new behavioral modification program, she never
could have predicted its instant success.
"I have seen so much more than I
ever expected," she said. "The program is amazing."
The program is named Positive
Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, and was created by
the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education. The
goal of the program is to give schools information and assistance in
school-wide disciplinary actions using positive reenforcement. By
next fall, all of Londonderry's elementary schools will be using the
Now in its third year of PBIS,
South Londonderry Elementary School has seen many positive affects.
"We had a specific reason for
(adopting this program)," said Linda Kettenring, principal of South
Londonderry Elementary School. "We had students who needed role
models, and we needed a consistent program to help us with that."
Kettenring explained the PBIS
program encourages identifying students for positive behavior with
recognition versus reward.
"We post three words for students
to see: respect, responsibility and safety," Kettenring said.
When students are recognized for
displaying one of the behaviors, they are given a large, colorful
sticker with that word on it.
The school also uses creativity and
entertainment to get positive messages out to students.
"Recently, the third grade
presented the rules of the cafeteria in a funny and entertaining
way," Kettenring said. "We keep ideas fresh and alive."
Mack explained that her school
modified the program a bit to fit with their "Tiger Mascot" theme.
"Just this morning, one of our
classes was presented with the Golden Paw' award," she said.
The award was given to a classroom
that had been given the most certificates for positive behavior.
"I was told the students were
walking so proudly down the hallway with their award," she said
Along with positive reenforcement,
teachers and staff are asked to fill out forms when a disciplinary
issue occurs. On a monthly basis, they are able to look at the forms
and take steps on how best to resolve consistent issues. When a
student breaks a more serious rule, Kettenring said, there is a
process they must follow.
"One of the principals will talk
with the student. We want (the student) to process what happened and
have them choose properly."
Even though the PBIS program is
voluntary, North Londonderry Elementary School will be using the
practices by next fall.
"We will be going to the training
in two weeks," explained Richard Zacchilli, principal of the school.
Zacchilli said that according to the PBIS guidelines, 85 percent of
the staff had to agree to use the program.
"We had 95 to 96 percent of the
staff wanting to take the training," he said.
According to Zacchilli, the
decision to use the program was a simple one. "It's a shift because
it's proactive. The rules are always clearly stated for kids," he
said. "Now kids will know the rule and the expectations."