PBIS Tools for Teachers

What is PBIS?

PBIS stands for positive behavioral interventions and supports and is also called positive behavior support. The definition of PBIS is a system that involves reinforcing and teaching desired behaviors as a way of gradually eliminating more negative ones.

Teachers can start with positive behavior support by using a functional behavior assessment, which can give a sense of what behaviors to target via PBIS. Teachers will then be able to focus on students' strengths as they work toward teaching and reinforcing the desired behaviors.

Like any behavior system, PBIS has strengths and weaknesses. The pros of positive behavior support include the increase in morale and academic performance due to emphasizing positive behaviors in the classroom. Cons include the amount of time it can take to implement and a potential lack of uniformity across the school.

PBIS can be very useful in special education classes, where student benefit from explicit instruction in desirable behaviors. When it comes to PBIS and special education, teachers need to consider students' strengths as well as any behavioral goals in their IEP.

PBIS looks at discipline as a tiered system. First, students learn desired behaviors as a whole group, and then, as needed, they are targeted for more individualized intervention plans. The PBIS tiers are defined as follows:

  1. Students receive behavioral instruction and support within the classroom as a whole group.
  2. Individual students are targeted, as needed, for support from the classroom teacher in developing desired behaviors.
  3. Students who continue to struggle get additional support from specialists, like a guidance counselor or social worker.

Positive Behavior Support Plan

Teachers implementing PBIS can start by coming up with a positive behavior support plan useful to students or an individual student in the classroom.

Begin by completing a behavioral assessment, which will help you pinpoint the student's strengths and weaknesses. This will also help you zoom in on the target behavior you are hoping to address via an intervention plan.

A teacher's behavior intervention plan should focus on a clear, achievable, and positive goal. Teachers will look for the target behavior in concrete periods of time, and then reinforce it positively. Gradually, they will start to see overall changes in student's behavior. If relevant, the teacher might then transition to another target behavior.

What is the meaning of PBIS as it applies to schools? Usually, using PBIS plans works better if it is incorporated into a schoolwide mission and philosophy on behavior and learning. Teachers can ask for the support of counselors, specialists, and administrators in devising a positive behavior support plan for any number of students. Family support can also be helpful, especially if similar behaviors are cropping up at home.

PBIS Strategies for Teachers

When it comes to using PBIS in the classroom, teachers can use specific strategies to help them work consistently and positively with students.

The first step is deciding on PBIS strategies that target the behaviors students are exhibiting. One essential strategy is the consistent and explicit modeling of positive behavior. Teachers can show students how to behave using their own actions and communication.

Another important strategy is to enlist as much support from families and others in the school as possible. Drawing on families and specialists can be particularly helpful when it comes to PBIS and students with autism. Students should have consistent expectations for behavior wherever they are in the school.

Teachers can also think about different PBIS strategies for both teaching and reinforcing behaviors in the classroom, all while keeping pace with planned curriculum. For example, teachers can have clear and usable charts for documenting student behavior and have a plan in place for what to do if behavior is getting in the way of good instruction.

Finally, PBIS usually requires an effective PBIS reward system, so teachers can think about how to authentically incentivize students toward showing the kind of behavior they want to see. Examples might include a pajama day, a special read aloud, extra recess, a free pass from homework, or a chance to lead the class in a special activity or song.

Positive Behavior Support Teacher Grant from
Receive $1000 to spend on the resources and training you need to implement PBIS in your classroom.
  • Receive $1000 and a 12-month membership to supplement your teaching
  • Must be a full time preschool to 12th grade teacher
  • Apply today!
Congratulations to our recent winner! Jennifer Tice, Science Teacher; West Lafayette, IN
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Positive Behavior Support Resources