8 Steps to Implement a Positive Behavior Management (PBIS) System


A positive behavior management system, or PBIS management system, is a proactive approach used by schools to help all students be successful. Schools focus on prevention of negative behaviors by teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors. Here are 8 important steps to ensure successful implementation of a schoolwide system and platform.

 Create a Cohesive Classroom Layout 

Having a strategic student seating chart and classroom layout will help teachers implement their positive behavior management system effectively. Teachers should have a fluid chart and move students to different seats when needed for all students to be successful behaviorally and academically. The classroom layout is important to make sure the teacher has a visual of every part of the room at all times. Try to avoid creating blindspots where students could congregate or misbehave that cannot easily be seen. 

→ Learn more about how to improve Behavior in your school

In addition to the classroom layout and seating chart, teachers should use circulation and scanning techniques. Students will know that their teacher is focused on them and the lesson as they move around to support behavior and assignments. 

 Define, Teach, and Monitor Classroom Behavior Expectations 

First, teachers need to create behavior expectations for their class that are positively stated and focus on key values of the school. Once the teacher is clear on their expectations, they must decide how they will teach and model these expectations for their class. Explicitly teaching behavioral expectations is what sets a positive behavior management (PBIS) system on the right track. This will look different based on student ages but all teachers should teach students what each behavior looks like, sounds like, does not look like, and does not sound like. This will help students become crystal clear on what is expected of them at all times in the classroom. 

 Implement the Schools’ Behavioral Matrix

If your school has a school-wide behavior management system, a behavioral matrix is important so that every staff member understands the expectations for behavior throughout the entire school like hallways, auditorium, cafeteria, bathrooms, and the playground. Having expectations with examples posted in common spaces will help both students and staff understand and adhere to the expectations. 

All staff should also be aware of the layout of the common spaces and best ways to circulate, scan with their eyes (especially in blind spots), monitor, and respond to behavior in these areas. There should also be set and practiced transition routines within these areas to minimize negative behaviors when a large number of students are moving through these areas. 

 Acknowledge and Reward Positive Behaviors 

Teachers should first distinguish the difference between acknowledging and rewarding behaviors and how to best do this in their classroom. Students should not be rewarded every time they follow directions because that is a basic behavioral expectation. Using positive narration, recognition, and praise will help students know that their positive behavior is being recognized and to continue that behavior. Rewarding positive behaviors should be used for above and beyond behavioral excellence and students that are making better behavior choices than before. 

 Respond to Behavior Issues

A PBIS management system should have a plan for off-task behaviors. It should detail what each off-task behavior looks and sounds like, what the steps to correcting that behavior are, and what the consequences will be. It should also be clear about which staff member is to deliver the consequence. For example, when a student blurts out, that is something the teacher can easily tackle using non-verbals, reminders, and possibly consequences. If a student starts physically fighting another student, that should be handled by an administrator or dean so learning can continue for the rest of the class while the students involved can have a deeper discussion to understand and take responsibility for that decision along with a logical consequence for that behavior. 

 Record Behaviors and Act Upon that Data

It is very important when implementing a behavior management system to collect behavior data, analyze the data, and respond to the data. That will inform teachers about students who are excelling, on track, or struggling, as well as classroom trends like behaviors during specific times of day, and how to tweak implementation for improvement. 

On Kickboard, teachers can log and track behaviors in real time, parents can see their child’s behavior and messages in the app, and different reports are easily accessible for analysis by teachers and administrators. Leaders can help all teachers, especially new teachers, learn best ways to track behaviors in Kickboard during their lessons, how and when to analyze their data, and best ways to action plan and respond to their data. 

 Be Aware of Your Own Emotions and Master Them

Haim Ginott was a school teacher, a child psychologist, psychotherapist, and a parent educator who developed strategies and techniques for how teachers should converse with students. One powerful quote he stated is;

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”

This quote illuminates how a teachers’ emotions and attitude affects their classroom and implementation of a positive behavior management system. Teachers set the tone and climate in the classroom every day with their attitude and how they respond to situations. Teachers who have more elevated feelings may jump quicker to consequence or use harsher consequences than the behavior management system calls for. Building emotional constancy is very important to teaching and using a positive behavior management system consistently for all students.

One strategy teachers can engage in is using calming and meditation activities each morning with their students. This will help the teacher effectively model how to identify current emotions and how to reset their mind and body for better behavior. 

 Partner with Families 

Families are co-teachers with the educators in their children’s education. Schools must work to engage families in authentic ways and create a true, trusting partnership. For example, parents should not only get calls from the school and teacher when their child is misbehaving. Teachers can create a communication schedule where they contact families regularly and share positive behavior and academic news. 

Inviting parents safely into the school to help is a great way to build partnerships. For example, family members can be invited to school for special days, parties, activities, recess help, field trips, do a read aloud to the class, or present on their career. 

Focusing on these 8 key things will help teachers and schools successfully implement a positive behavior management system. Schools that implement these well will create a more positive, fun, and successful learning environment where all students can be successful.