What are Positive Behavior Interventions?


Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are strategies schools use to improve the behavior of students. The proactive approach establishes the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are strategies schools use to improve the behavior of students. The proactive approach establishes the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Strong school values and consistent healthy practices ensure that teachers are able to maintain positive classroom culture with built in positive behavior interventions that ensure that all students succeed.

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Start the School Year with Positive Behavior In All Classes

Building a warm, welcoming classroom that runs efficiently is the first step teachers can take to promote positive behavior. Teachers set the tone for a student’s classroom experience and have the power to create a world where students can thrive. School leaders can strategically support teachers in planning to have a great start to the year. Here are a few strategies that get classrooms positive behavior ready.

First, Reflect.

Identify how you want students to feel and what you want them to achieve in class. Next, clarify the habits students will need in order to reach these goals. Research shows that targeting and positively reinforcing specific desired behaviors can help students be more successful. Then, think about how to set up classroom space, systems, and practices in a way that brings the vision to life.

Create a Positive Classroom Environment

Space matters. Systems matter. Where we are, what we have access to and what we do in a space can influence how productive we are. Our post 13 PBIS Strategies to Build a Welcoming Classroom To Promote Positive Behaviors helps teachers think about how to create a safe, efficient classroom that supports positive behavior.

Develop Systems that Promote Positive Behavior

We’ve already established that healthy systems can promote healthy behavior, but the question is: what are the right systems for each classroom? Teachers must be strategic about finding the right positive behavior systems to implement in their class so that they can use them with fidelity. Read 9 Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies that Improve Classroom Behavior to help you think strategically about systems from entering the classroom to taking bathroom breaks.

Build Relationships with Students

Before planning student behaviors that need to change, it’s always a good idea to step back and ask, “Do all kids have someone they feel they can trust?” Teachers should strategically work to establish positive relationships with students so that students are more likely to follow directions and work towards goals.

Use Tiered Positive Behavior Interventions That Support Positive Behavior

All positive behavior interventions aren’t made equally. The key is to distinguish which practices will work for all students and what adjustments can be made when some students are in need of more support.

Tier I Positive Behavior Interventions

Tier I PBIS supports are behavioral strategies that all students have access to. These interventions set the foundation for behavior in the classroom. Without them, teachers will not be prepared to incentivize positive behavior or respond to negative behavior. Here are a few PBIS interventions teachers can use to positively reinforce student behavior for all students:

Have a management ladder

Teachers often think about what consequences exist when students don’t meet expectations. That is called a consequence ladder. Instead, teachers should think about a management ladder where self regulation is in the middle. At the top of this ladder are the ways in which students who are behaving can advance. For example, if a student meets basic expectations, teachers might offer them an opportunity to have a classroom job, lead a part of class or offer some other level of independence or leadership.

Below the basic expectations are modifications of ways teachers can adjust to help students regulate behavior. If a student is struggling, a teacher might redirect the student, provide an alternative workspace or reach out to the parent for extra support if the behavior continues. Thinking strategically about this prepares teachers to reinforce behavior in a positive, productive and predictable way.

Give clear directions

While lesson planning, teachers should consider exactly what they want students to do. Thinking about how students should move, at what volume they should be speaking and what participation looks like will help prevent unwanted behaviors and ensure that students have clarity into the expectation.

Track daily class points

Teachers can give the entire class points when they are collectively meeting expectations. These points can be connected to classroom incentives such as extra break time or a night without homework.

Tier II and III Positive Behavior Interventions

Sometimes, students will need more specific behavioral supports to succeed. When that is the case, teachers should rely on Tier II and Tier III Positive Behavior Interventions to help students. Tier II interventions apply to a small group or students, and Tier III interventions are individualized.

Tier II Behavior Interventions

Behavior Contract

A behavior contract is an agreement between staff and a student where each party receives some benefit or payoff. It describes the behavior that is expected and outlines what students earn if they meet expectations. Teachers benefit from the improved student behavior.

Check In/Check Out System

This system appoints a partner to host strategic check ins at the start and end of the day with students who are struggling with behavioral expectations. Together, they track how effective a student is reaching their goal/s. Students get a daily rating as ongoing feedback which helps them adjust their behavior. These ratings may be attached to incentives for the student working to improve. Additionally, the peer is able to get leadership experience by working as a mentor.

Break Passes

This intervention is designed for students who exhibit disruptive classroom behavior that interferes with their and other students’ ability to learn. Students are given passes and are taught how to appropriately request a break. This helps students learn to identify their behavioral patterns and advocate for time to readjust. Ideally, overtime, students will be more aware of what influences their behavior changes and will begin to self regulate and adjust without a break.

If a student is in need of Tier III behavioral supports, this is usually decided in a Response to Intervention meeting focused on the student’s behavior. This meeting should include the parent, teachers and relevant service providers. Tier III behavioral supports can really improve student behavior, but they require intentionality.

Tier III Behavior Interventions

Individualized Behavior Plan

A behavior plan is a thoughtful, all encompassing plan that clarifies a student’s specific behavior that is impacting learning. A qualified staff member would assess what antecedents trigger the negative behavior. The plan will include an analysis of why the behavior may be happening and clarification of what behavior is desired. Additionally, it will break down a plan of what will need to happen and who will help support a student as they work to reach goals. Behavior plans include ways of monitoring progress and may also involve services, such as counseling or classroom modifications.

All staff that work with the student, including non-instructional persons, will need to review and execute a student’s behavior plan. Adjustments can be made to expedite growth. After a while, students may be able to operate without behavior plans if they continue to progress.


Consistent negative behaviors are often tied to a root cause that students needs to work through. Routinely meeting with the school counselor can help a student get the support that they need to improve their behavioral challenges. With parent approval, this can be very beneficial for the long term stability and success of a student.

Modified Schedule

After multiple interventions, teachers may learn that a student is in a need of a completely different type of school day. This can be created for a student in conjunction with the parent and the RTI team. It can look like strategically thinking about when a student gets a break, transitions from class to class and even where the student starts and ends their day. This individualized approach of looking at the school day can be the key towards helping improve a student’s school experience.

How Do Teachers Know If Positive Behavior Interventions Are Helping Students Achieve?

Schools should consistently be tracking student behavior to identify which students are meeting expectations, which students are exceeding expectations, which students may need more support and which students are improving due to extra support. Tracking student behavior with Kickboard is one way schools have been able to identify behavioral strengths and areas of growth on a student, grade and teacher level. Behavioral data helps educators think about what strategies are helpful and identifies opportunities for improvement. This type of reflection can help schools identify how to intervene and ensure that school and classroom culture is positive and supporting student success.

Here at Kickboard we have seen many schools turnaround student behavior by using our PBIS mobile app, web platform, and professional development services to support their project based learning initiatives. Kickboard helps teachers to track student behavior, identify cultural trends and implement systems to improve behavioral results.