Years ago you could ask anybody about the “3 R’s” in and around schools and I am sure they would tell you about Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic. Along with those core academic subjects, which are still taught in schools today, Vandalia-Butler students would most likely mention three new R’s; respectful, responsible, and resourceful.
Three years ago, the Vandalia-Butler City School District adopted Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as a pro-active approach to encouraging good student behavior. With PBIS, our students learn about behavior just as they do Reading, Math, and other subjects. At Vandalia-Butler, we strive to teach our kids social skills; including how to act in different settings, such as the classroom, on the bus, or with friends. Staff members at our schools regularly praise kids for good behavior, reinforcing behaviors we value. While students may learn through role-playing or actual lessons, they are presented with real and organic opportunities for practice throughout their school and home environments.
From Preschool through 12th grade, Vandalia-Butler has adopted the three common expectations that our students will Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Resourceful (our new “3 R’s”). These pillars of behavior guide our instruction and purpose. Each school has identified key locations within their building and developed expectations that align with the 3 R’s. By encouraging our students to be kind to each other, to be responsible for their own decisions, and by teaching them to solve their own problems, it is our goal to create a generation of students that are both academically and socially advanced.
Imagine a student; let’s call him Vincent “Vinnie” Barbarino, sitting in his classroom. Vinnie is the leader of his class, a heartthrob, and sometimes the class clown. Vinnie is well-liked but may not be the strongest student. In a non-PBIS school, if Vinnie were to sit back and throw a spitball, then Mr. Kotter (his teacher) may send him to the office, have a principal discipline him, and then Vinnie is sent back to class and viewed as a troublemaker. If the same behavior continues from Vinny, his punishment may increase. By contrast, in PBIS schools, we work to prevent the initial behaviors. Once taught their social skills and behavioral expectations, students are encouraged and rewarded for their choices. In Vinnie’s case, Mr. Kotter would be looking for minor issues and would work to prevent them so that they do not become more significant problems, such as spitballs. PBIS teaches the staff to look for behavior that demonstrates a student is craving attention or a student who might have experienced trauma before coming to school or the class. By addressing Vinnie’s need in advance, there is no need for a spitball! While my example may be a throwback to an age-old show, it is a clear example of the differences in ideology.
Recently Helke Elementary School and Morton Middle School were recognized by the Ohio Department of Education with a Bronze Award for our PBIS implementation. The Bronze Award is the highest award possible for first-year implementation. Additionally, the Helke staff presented its successes during a poster session at the National PBIS Conference in Chicago, IL. Helke was one of two schools from Ohio who presented. At Helke Elementary School, we believe that students genuinely value and are proud of correct behavior and that students do not purposefully choose bad behaviors when they occur. Instead, we consider the behaviors of our students as extensions of their current situation.
Feel free to contact your child’s school directly if you would like more information about PBIS implementation at each building.
Reach Brian Tregoning at (937) 415-3002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.