Teacher buy in is essential for a school’s PBIS program to be successful. Buy in is not a singular event or focus; it is ongoing and evolves depending on your staff and student culture throughout the year.
The Managing Complex Change Model created by Dr. Mary Lippitt shows the 5 elements to a strategic planning process; vision, skills, incentives, resources, and action plan. The visual below illustrates the negative effects and consequences that could happen if one of those elements is missing and leaders do not get teachers to buy into the PBIS Program.
Leaders must invest, train, and support teachers so it is easy and exciting for them to implement PBIS. If done well, leaders can bypass all of the negative emotions above to get staff to buy into their PBIS program. Below is a list of 5 ways leaders can do this effectively.
Sell Your Vision Well
As the leaders and drivers of the school, you must sell your PBIS vision to your entire staff. It is easy to define a new system or initiative to someone, but if the receiver of the information doesn’t understand the importance of it, or the “why” behind it, they are less likely to comply or follow through. It is important for teachers to understand how this new program or idea affects them and the positive impact it will have if they follow it.
To sell PBIS to their teachers, leaders must first build trustful relationships with staff members. For most teachers, before investing time and energy into a PBIS plan or any new initiative from administration, they want to know this isn’t just the latest educational trend or craze that will fizzle quickly. Teachers want reassurance that this is something that the administration is actively involved and invested in for a long period of time. Once relationships and trust are built, leaders can emotionally invest teachers with a powerful story or research linked to PBIS and its impact.
It is always beneficial to bring data into the conversation showing that PBIS can help lower referrals, detentions, suspensions, and lead to higher test scores. As with any new program, it is easier to get staff on board if they are emotionally invested in seeing your students succeed and know research supports your vision with proven results.
Invest in Teacher Skills with Professional Development
Teachers will be successful and will continue to buy into your PBIS program if they are being developed, coached and feel supported. Teachers should learn the basic parts of PBIS in summer training, but their professional development should not stop there. Leaders should continue to spiral PBIS content into teacher training throughout the year, each focusing on different aspects and skills. Leaders can scaffold PBIS knowledge and strategies during these PD sessions to meet all the needs of their diverse staff.
Incentive PBIS Utilization
One big way to ensure buy in is to incentivize the PBIS system for teachers. Just like with student point systems, you can do daily usage goals with your staff as well. Leaders can set a goal for how many points teachers need to input for PBIS each day and week. This communicates administration’s minimum expectations for the amount of points or dollars teachers need to log each day. Secondly, it reiterates the importance of PBIS within your school. You can create a game or competition to increase excitement and buy in from staff.
Sometimes, initiatives flounder and have to be revived because they lose steam, excitement, and buy in. This can be avoided by simple structures set up by administration to celebrate PBIS efforts. These can be easy structures that are consistent to your day or week like daily shout-outs in staff circles, shout out boards in teacher spaces, video shoutouts in meetings, mentor teachers chosen for other teachers to observe, daily points leaders announced or posted, highlight exciting classroom culture data in emails, and more.
Along with professional development, leaders need to provide teachers with proper resources so that they are supported and successful with PBIS. One of the biggest resources leaders can provide teachers are data analysis tools. Administrators must hold culture data as one of their most important pillars and ingrain culture data analysis and dialogue into staff daily habits.
You want staff to live and breathe data collection, analysis and action planning from it. This can be done in several ways like starting staff meetings with 5 minutes of data input or analysis time, professional learning communities during shared planning times, daily point games, and constantly analyzing and discussing culture data in coaching sessions. Teachers will buy into and continue to use the PBIS plan when they can analyze their strengths and weaknesses, create action plans, and see improvement in their classroom.
Lastly, as leaders, you can avoid false starts with PBIS if you create a clear action plan and clearly communicate with staff. Streamline your communication so staff members know what is important and what they should prioritize with PBIS at all times. Set clear processes and systems around PBIS for teachers, students, parents, stakeholders, staff training, and communication.
It is important for staff to have a safe and secure way to provide feedback to administration on how PBIS can be improved from their perspective. Staff must know that their input is valued and appreciated by the administration. Transparency is very powerful. Leaders can share survey feedback on what everyone voted was going well, what needed to be improved, and next steps for improvement. This will be a golden opportunity to involve teachers with revising the action plan and brainstorming solutions to any PBIS issue that may arise.
The Managing Complex Change Model helps frame the 5 elements that are important to get buy in and avoid resistance from staff. Make sure you continually assess the effectiveness of each and include teachers in the process.