July/August 2014

Justin Warnke is associate principal at Jefferson Junior High School, located in the Woodridge SD 68. The basis for this article was the subject of a panel presentation at the 2014 NSBA Conference.

The intention of this presentation was to share how the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) System has been a tremendous success in our school to achieve its goals. The mission statement of the school is to become a 21st century data driven school and meet the needs of all students. This program has assisted in reducing student discipline and increasing student attendance.

According to the Illinois PBIS network, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports is a proactive systems approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture and needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success.The system allows for data-based decision making by aligning curricular instruction and behavioral supports to student and staff needs. More information on the PBIS system can be found on their website, http://www.pbisillinois.org/getting-started/what-is-pbis.

The panel audience of roughly 100 school board members, educators and educational leaders heard personal stories of working with hard to reach students and staff members with varying levels of commitment to the program. Demonstrations, video clips of Jefferson students and staff and primary implementation documents were shared throughout the presentation to help participants develop a better understanding of the PBIS system and the work that Jefferson students and staff have done to make the program a success.

The highs and lows of implementation, creative celebrations, and interventions were shared throughout the presentation. Disciplinary and attendance data were also shared with the audience to emphasize the effectiveness of system over the three years of implementation at Jefferson.

I walked the audience through the implementation process of all three tiers of the PBIS System: Tier 1-Universal interventions, Tier 2-Secondary interventions and Tier 3-Tertiary interventions. I shared not only the steps that were taken, but also successes and struggles.

In addition, the process for tracking student discipline via the School Wide Information System (SWIS) was shared and included how data is used to make strategic decisions to improve student behavior. As defined by the PBISApps website, SWIS allows school staff to enter discipline referrals online and then summarizes the data into a report to provide information about individual students, groups of students, or the entire student body over a designated time period Additional information about the SWIS system and its functions can be found at https://www.pbisapps.org/Applications/Pages/SWIS-Suite.aspx.

Videos of explicit behavioral lessons were shared, including one example that Jefferson developed to promote the importance of arriving to class on time and prepared (http://youtu.be/kK_ch2V0Jz0). Videos also showed positive behavior incentives, such as the Jefferson Junior High PBIS store (http://youtu.be/xEQhi1wW3Io), and the execution of school-wide celebrations.

The presentation was concluded by communicating our school’s process for identifying and entering students into behavioral interventions, monitoring and responding to student needs and exiting students from behavioral interventions.

Having the opportunity to present at the National School Board Association Conference was a powerful experience. Though it was a fair amount of work proposing and preparing the presentation, it was an honor to be accepted to share our success with the PBIS System and to spotlight Woodridge School District 68. The opportunity to have conversations with the audience before, during and after the presentation was truly amazing. Hearing what other districts across the nation are doing in regards to improving student behavior and sharing successes and struggles built a bond between members in attendance at the presentation.

Receiving positive feedback from audience members currently involved in education about the presentation and Jefferson’s reduction in disciplinary incidents was reassuring and reinforced to me that all the hard work is worth it. I also appreciate the opportunity to network with educators beyond the conference. Sharing success stories and problem solving with other districts about unique situations that have arisen in their buildings has been very rewarding.