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Strengths & Weaknesses of Positive Behavior Supports

Instructor: Joelle Mumley
Are you considering using positive behavior supports (PBS) in your classroom? This lesson will explain the PBS system, the pros and cons of using it, and provide some real life examples.

Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

The positive behavior support (PBS) system is a model that's designed to manage behaviors in the classroom through the use of research-based strategies that increase desired behaviors and decrease inappropriate or disruptive behaviors. To decrease problem behaviors, PBS looks at the function of the behavior and what the student is getting out of doing it.

For example, Jimmy is a student who shouts out answers to questions without raising his hand. As his teacher, you determine that the function of the behavior is to get attention and that you, therefore, need to teach Jimmy how to get attention in an appropriate and non-disruptive way.

The other side to PBS is increasing desired behaviors by rewarding students for acting appropriately. For example, instead of punishing Jimmy for shouting out his answers, you could praise Jane for raising her hand to ask for help. This serves to encourage those students who are demonstrating the desired behaviors. Those who aren't, have the opportunity to see what's expected of them and that those behaviors are rewarded.

In addition to verbal praise, most PBS models include a token economy system where students earn rewards. A token economy system is a reward system that uses tokens (gold stars, paper dollars, and stickers) to encourage students in positive ways. Students earn these tokens by demonstrating appropriate behaviors. They can later use these tokens to purchase items like school supplies, small toys, or snacks.

Behavioral Assessments

As the classroom teacher, you can easily conduct your own 'unofficial' behavioral assessment using the information you already have about each student. This will save you a lot of time and energy, and help you best determine how to help your student get on the right track.

To conduct this behavioral assessment, follow these four steps:

  1. Define the target behavior, or the behavior you wish to change.
  2. Collect your data, or the when, where, who, and what related the behavior.
  3. Determine the function of the behavior. Usually, there are two functions for behaviors: to get or seek something desired or to avoid or escape something undesired.
  4. Teach a replacement behavior by modeling and instructing the appropriate way for students to do what they need to do.

PBS Strengths

The use of the PBS system can help improve classroom climate because you'll no longer be spending as much time redirecting students for 'bad' or undesired behaviors. Use positive language as you encourage students to display good behaviors. Incorporate simple statements of praise (such as ''Thank you, Jill, for following directions the first time'') rather than highlighting poor behaviors and potentially embarrassing a student (for example ''Vinnie, I've told you three times to put that book away.'') can make a big difference in classroom morale.

PBS can also increase academic performance because students know what's expected of them. A token economy system is a PBS strength because it encourages students to behave appropriately. When you reward students for doing what you want them to do, their peers learn by example. Students who follow the rules and procedures become positive peer models by demonstrating the desired behaviors.

PBS Weaknesses

PBS can be time consuming to institute. The data collection process can be long and student behaviors will continue to be disruptive in the meantime.

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