Educator Excellence

Over 300 Minnesota schools creating positively great results with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

Eagles “SOAR?” Lake Benton Bobcats? Nicolett Jr. High’s “FIRE?” What is Tiger Pride and why in the world is that principal sleeping on the roof of his building?  

Apollo High School in St. Cloud, Lake Benton Elementary, North Elementary in Princeton … these are just a few examples of the hundreds of schools implementing School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SW-PBIS). Don't let the fun and playful names fool you, these are schools that have spent at least two years in team training to implement this work. The result? A comprehensive, data-driven and educational set of practices ensuring all students, staff and families are working from the same playbook when it comes to supporting positive behavior and academic achievement.

Key features of PBIS include:

• Setting clear, consistent positive expectations.
• Teaching and practicing those expectations throughout the entire school (including classrooms, hallways, lunchrooms, etc., even the bathroom).
• Systematically recognizing when the expectations are being demonstrated well.
• Being clear about the continuum of consequences.
• All of this work is supported and sustained with regular review of school disciplinary data to guide effective implementation.

What happens if we take that educational approach to social skills and behavior? When you walk into a school implementing PBIS, you're likely to identify the school’s positive expectations within five minutes. Maybe ask a staff member or student as they welcome you into their building to tell you about the expectations. 

It might be SOAR (Safety, Optimism, Acceptance and Respect) that you observe when visiting Apollo High School in St. Cloud. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to see Lake Benton’s Bobcat celebrating with students and staff for demonstrating their ground rules of “Respect Yourself, Respect Others, Respect Property and be Responsible for Your Own Behavior” throughout the school. Perhaps it starts to make sense when the principal at North Elementary in Princeton spends a chilly night atop his school to celebrate reaching a school goal for consistently demonstrating respecting themselves, others, community and property. Maybe you surf the school’s website and notice how Nicolett Junior High’s “Intervenciones de Comportamiento Positivos y otro tipo de Apoyos” made their expectations of Focus, Integrity, Responsibility and Excellence accessible to all students and families whose primary language is Spanish.

Currently 24 percent of schools in Minnesota are implementing PBIS. Each year, the number of schools applying for team training continues to increase. And for good reason — the data tells a story of reductions in behavioral problems and suspensions leaving more time for learning.

Minnesota SW-PBIS will start training in August 2014 for newly accepted schools. Applications for the next cohort are available now on the Minnesota PBIS website and are due by January 20, 2015.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), in partnership with National Technical Assistance Center on PBIS, regional implementation teams in the North, Metro and South as well as our evaluation partners have worked collaboratively and grown rapidly over the past eight years (view the National Technical Assistance Center on PBIS website, http://www.pbis.org). The growth of PBIS in Minnesota reflects the creativity, collaboration and hard work of a broad constituency of trainers, coaches, practitioners, parents, stakeholders, teachers, students, advocates, researchers, volunteers and administrators.

Training is conducted in partnership with the Regional Implementation Teams and evaluation partners, funded by MDE. Schools are required to identify a team, generate staff buy-in, demonstrate administrative support, commit to attend all nine sessions over the two years and regularly collect information on outcomes, implementation and effort.

For more information about Minnesota’s PBIS efforts, see the Minnesota PBIS website (http://www.pbismn.org) or e-mail mde.pbis@state.mn.us.