How Breckenridge Elementary’s Principal used Kickboard to revamp PBIS with key stakeholders
About Breckenridge Elementary
Breckenridge Elementary is a K-5 school in Breckenridge, Colorado. They are committed to academic and social emotional development, as well as building students’ cultural awareness. In the 2018-2019 school year, their students outperformed the district and state test averages in every content area and grade level. They also had the highest growth in English Language Arts and Math out of all elementary schools in Summit County.
At Breckenridge Elementary there is a sense of community, with teachers, parents, school leadership, counselors, and a school psychologist all collaborating to support students. Parent involvement is multi-faceted, with two separate parent organizations designed to support the school community.
Breckenridge Elementary School
PUBLIC SCHOOL K–5
- 13:1 Student: Teacher Ratio
- Top 20% of schools in CO
- International Baccalaureate (IB) program
Khristian Brace became Breckenridge Elementary’s principal in 2017. Over the last 3 years, she developed and implemented robust PBIS practices by working with the school psychologist, counselor, and staff to change school culture and create a safe, happy learning environment for students. Kickboard has been a crucial tool for Ms. Brace’s team to implement PBIS, and has helped facilitate their impact on schoolwide culture.
Here are the key steps the Breckenridge team took to improve school culture:
- Prioritize PBIS, and implement Kickboard to support that work
- Identify, teach, and track positive behaviors
- Implement incentives for positive behaviors
- Develop and implement a clear discipline matrix and consequence flow-chart to address corrective behaviors
- Incorporate trauma-informed restorative approaches
- Hold staff accountable for consistent behavior tracking
- Foster collaboration and open communication among staff and families
- Analyze data and provide targeted support
Step 1: Making PBIS a priority & Implementing Kickboard to support and enable that work
When Khristian Brace became principal of Breckenridge Elementary, Summit County’s school district was starting to focus on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Ms. Brace brought in Kickboard as a foundation for Breckenridge Elementary’s implementation. Kickboard is a website and app that enables schools to track various student behaviors, and easily manage positive and negative consequences tied to those behaviors. Ms. Brace saw an opportunity to foster a culture of joy and celebration, and made that a priority from the start, advocating for resources to support students.
Step 2: Identify, teach, and track expected behaviors
Once Ms. Brace and her team made PBIS a priority and decided to implement Kickboard, their next step was to identify and define which positive behaviors they expected from students. Specific behaviors were identified in a behavior matrix, organized by how to be safe, respectful, and responsible in various school environments. These behaviors were clear, actionable, and written in student-friendly language. In the cafeteria, for instance, students can be safe by keeping their food to themselves, can be respectful by recycling and composting, and can be responsible by cleaning up. Defining these behaviors helped remove ambiguity around what students should be doing at any given time, and also created opportunities for students to be “caught” doing the right thing. Teachers and other staff were able to explicitly name and teach these behaviors.
In the 2017-2018 school year, Breckenridge Elementary focused on common areas like the lunchroom, hallways, recess, and assemblies. The following year, they extended this to classrooms, and defined what it looks like to be safe, responsible, and respectful in a learning environment. They intentionally differentiated these behaviors by developmental level, teaching different behaviors in Kindergarten than in 5th grade. Each grade level has their own age-appropriate behavior matrix visually displayed so that expectations are clear to students.
When students at Breckenridge Elementary behave safely, respectfully, and responsibly, staff members celebrate their choices, and document those behaviors in Kickboard. Ms. Brace explained “Kickboard was so helpful because we were tracking those specific behaviors and naming them for kids,” which reinforced the expectations and removed ambiguity and uncertainty for students.
Step 3: Implement incentives for expected positive behaviors
When students at Breckenridge Elementary make choices that are respectful, responsible, and safe, they show that they are being “Bulldog Strong,” and they earn “Bulldog Bucks” in Kickboard for their good choices. As students earn Bulldog Bucks for exhibiting specific positive behaviors, they also have the opportunity to earn positive incentives like participating in end-of-month celebrations. Being rewarded for doing the right thing provides tangible motivation for students.
There were also leadership opportunities tied to these positive behaviors and Bulldog Bucks. The student in each class with the highest number of Bulldog Bucks at the end of the month became the “Bulldog Ambassador” for their class. Ms. Brace explained that those students got “their picture taken, an award during a community meeting…everyone stands and claps, and then they get different leadership opportunities throughout the month.” Since this is a monthly opportunity, it feels attainable for many students and fosters a growth mindset.
Step 4: Develop and implement a clear discipline matrix & consequence flow-chart for addressing corrective behaviors
Paired with positive incentives for safe, respectful, and responsible behaviors, Breckenridge Elementary developed a clear plan for addressing less desirable behaviors as well. Their robust discipline matrix lays out which behaviors should be proactively taught to students, which behaviors teachers should simply redirect, and which behaviors are minor or major and require a more involved response.
For an example, in a classroom learning environment teachers are encouraged to teach skills like “contributing appropriately to class discussions” so that students know exactly what is expected of them during lessons. If a student engages in “attention-seeking behaviors (silly answers, class clowning, bugging others, etc.)” the teacher should respond with their own discretion, and re-teach the expected behaviors to the student.
Minor Behaviors: If a student shows a “repeated pattern of disruptive behaviors,” the teacher documents this minor behavior in Kickboard, and the student reflects on how to “make it right.” This is paired with re-teaching of expected behaviors, guided practice, and additional strategies, depending on the frequency of the behavior. See the flowchart to the left for details.
Major Behaviors: If there is a major behavior that “stops the learning in class,” the teacher documents that in Kickboard, which also sends an automatic text to Ms. Brace. For a student’s first major behavior, they meet one-on-one with Ms. Brace, who teaches a “replacement behavior with guided practice and supervision of its use.” The student also receives a consequence and their parents are notified. If a student exhibits a major behavior for a second time, Ms. Brace works to implement a “more developed plan to correct the behavior”.
This system of accountability helps to reinforce expected behaviors, by prioritizing replacement behaviors and focusing on teaching and reteaching skills to students.
Step 5: Prioritize trauma-informed restorative approaches
Breckenridge Elementary has taken a trauma-informed approach to behavior management, instead of leaning on a cut-and-dry “if, then” consequence structure. This approach enables staff to look at each situation from all sides, and focus on restoring relationships instead of implementing consequences. Ms. Brace explained that “every case needs to be looked at through the lens of the child” and “the experiences that they have and what they’re coming with.” The processes of reflection help students to “see the impact that they’ve had on others.”
This reflection process is guided by worksheets that students can use to plan how to “Make it Right” and restore relationships to move forward. Like positive behavior matrices, these reflection forms are also differentiated by age. The primary form focuses on identifying feelings, owning actions, and determining next steps.
The intermediate form is more involved, and prompts students to identify the specific value that wasn’t followed, explain what happened in detail (including triggers & results), reflect on what harm was caused, plan for how to make it right, and identify how to prevent this behavior in the future.
Breckenridge Elementary has also dedicated time each morning for community building circles, which create safe spaces for students. Ms. Brace and the school counselor hold restorative circles when there is behavior and conflict, and they’ve even brought parents into these conversations. With these restorative approaches, there’s always a focus on the impact students have had on others, and how they’re going to fix that and move forward with their team.
Ms. Brace mentioned that students feel heard with this approach, and they’re not afraid to talk to her or the counselor. They’re not being treated like machines or simply receiving consequences; there’s a space for genuine conversation and problem-solving to restore relationships.
Step 6: Hold staff accountable for consistent behavior tracking
Successful implementation of these various strategies for addressing positive and corrective behaviors required consistency across Breckenridge Elementary’s whole staff. Kids need to know exactly what to expect in order for the system to have value, and that comes back to teachers’ implementation. If teachers weren’t consistently tracking behaviors in Kickboard, and celebrating students for their successes, it would ultimately have a negative impact on students.
Ms. Brace explained that consistency was a struggle at the beginning. She would pull data the day before each end-of-month celebration, and any students with less than 20 Bulldog Bucks wouldn’t attend the celebration. If there were a whole class of students who fell in that group, it wasn’t their fault. “It’s not because they’re not showing the expected behaviors. It’s because the teacher isn’t tracking them,” Ms. Brace explained. Even if the teacher assured her that the students should all participate, that wasn’t founded in any actual data. Ultimately, students were either being penalized because their teacher wasn’t recording their Bulldog Bucks in Kickboard, or they were being allowed to go to the celebration without qualifying, which completely devalued the system.
Consistency across classrooms, common areas, support staff, and leadership was key to successful implementation. Inconsistency among teachers would negatively impact students. If a paraprofessional tells students “I’m going to take your Kickboard bucks away” for a minor behavior, the students don’t see the impact if their classroom teacher doesn’t use the system anyway. If a parent has two children in two different classes, and one child comes home with 52 Bulldog Bucks while the other child comes home with 10 Bulldog Bucks, the parent could potentially get upset with that child. They have no way of knowing that it was a difference in implementation, not a difference in actual behavior.
To address this Ms. Brace grounded her coaching in this impact on students in order to support teachers with their implementation of Kickboard and PBIS strategies. She was able to show how fidelity impacts the success of the system, and impacts students. Ms. Brace understood that ultimately this system was in place to benefit kids, and that the strength of the system relied on the consistency of implementation. With consistent implementation, students feel supported.
Step 7: Foster collaboration and open communication among teachers, school leadership, and families
Along with consistency, communication was a key driving factor in the success of Breckenridge Elementary’s PBIS implementation. Communication among staff members enables collaboration and provides a foundation for supporting students. Staff members are also communicating directly with parents, which has improved relationships. Implementing these PBIS strategies with Kickboard has “created more contact time [for parents] with specials teachers, with paras, and with me,” Ms. Brace explained. Parents are hearing from all staff instead of just the classroom teacher. Parents are also able to check Kickboard daily to see their child’s Bulldog Bucks, and to see how they’re being earned or lost. This automatic communication with parents has opened up collaboration between school and home, which has also helped teachers to feel more supported. It has created opportunities for parents to celebrate all of their children’s successes, instead of waiting until a phone call or conference to hear what’s going well.
Ms. Brace and Breckenridge Elementary’s school counselor have worked closely together to support their teachers and students. They’ve facilitated trainings on trauma-informed practice and restorative approaches, and they are involved directly in restorative circles and teaching moments for students, as well as communication with families. This direct involvement by school leadership has further helped to foster a supportive and predictable environment for students.
Step 8: Analyze data and provide targeted support
With all of the positive and corrective behaviors being consistently tracked and communicated in Kickboard, there is an opportunity for intentional analysis of that data. This analysis can be done at a high level:
- Look at teachers’ implementation to ensure fidelity; comparing data across different classrooms and grade levels
- Identify “hotspots” where students are losing Bulldog Bucks (like recess) and changing supervision habits accordingly
- Identify which months of the year and days of the week have the most behavior infractions, and use that data to proactively plan for additional support
- Analyze major negative referrals on a long term basis to see the impact of Kickboard on student behavior
There’s also an opportunity to track data on a more individualized level to provide targeted support for students. Ms. Brace and her team are currently focusing on students in Tier II who need an extra level of support. They’ve implemented a check-in, check-out system grounded in individual student data. With a check-in, check-out system, students have specific goals they’re working towards. They can earn points toward each of those goals throughout the day, and earn rewards for meeting those goals.
In order to identify each student’s goals, Ms. Brace and her team look at behavior reports in Kickboard. They first identify the student’s strengths. If it’s being responsible, then staff can make sure to continue to praise and reinforce that. Next, they look at what the most common and consistent negative behavior has been for that student. If it’s disrespect, then the work to break that down to specifics: What does disrespect look like? What does it sound like? Ms. Brace and her team then take those specifics and turn them into an individualized behavior plan for that student. They track that data on a daily basis for a few weeks in order to see whether the student is meeting their goal. Strategically increasing the goal over time continues to support that student in changing their negative behavior choices and continuing to exhibit positive behaviors.
Ms. Brace is excited to take data analysis to the next level moving forward, and plans to create more strategic opportunities in the coming year for analyzing and responding to schoolwide and individual student data from Kickboard.
Results: Implementation of Kickboard & PBIS positively impacted school culture
Ms. Brace explained that one of Breckenridge Elementary’s biggest successes is that kids “like being there and they tell us that all the time.” The Breckenridge Elementary team has fostered a warm environment, where students feel supported and celebrated.
Before Kickboard and a streamlined PBIS system were implemented, there was not much celebration of students for their successes, and the environment was rigid and inconsistent. There was a communication gap among staff, and between staff and parents.
Now, everyone “talks about how much different the school feels, and it’s so much warmer and fun and filled with more joy.” The team is “celebrating kids’ successes and creating this place that kids really want to be.” At the same time, negative referrals are decreasing. From the 18-19 to 19-20 school year, Breckenridge Elementary saw a 27% decrease in negative referrals.
Teachers also appreciate having a system in place. Ms. Brace explained that “Kickboard has been a big relief for classroom teachers” and they “feel more supported” as a result of the streamlined system. With open communication between home and school, parents have no surprises when it comes to their child’s behavior. There are opportunities to celebrate successes on a daily basis, and there is a communication channel that goes both ways.
Ultimately, Ms. Brace and her team are transforming school culture at Breckenridge Elementary through implementation of Kickboard to support PBIS structures. Their collaboration and trauma-informed approach have led to a supportive school environment for kids, who are excited to come to school each day!