Happy December! As we move through December and into January, it is a great time to stop and review how your PBIS leadership team is doing and if the action plan is still on track to meeting outcomes. I like the months of January and February in Minnesota for reflection. It’s too cold to make me want to go outside, so I stay in, review data, read, and do some research. It’s a great time to check that your team is working smarter not harder. Use this winter time to reconnect, reflect, and renew your commitment to PBIS, even if you are in sunny Florida.
Is Growth Mindset on your mind like it is on mine? I have been hearing a lot about this term and was vaguely familiar with it; I sort of knew what it meant but didn’t grasp the deeper meaning of how to apply it to PBIS, if these two things were even similar. Well, it turns out they are very compatible and things that I have been telling my students over the past 20 years or so, have been Growth Mindsets. Acquiring new behavior and social skills can be a long learning process that is frustrating and sometimes exhausting. As a behavior specialist, I would offer students second chances, re-dos and re-winds. This is the Growth Mindset. I sometimes think of myself more of a coach than a teacher. I cheer kids on to victorious changes of behavior and social learning.
Here it is mid August and everyone is enjoying the remaining days of summer before the new school year begins. Some of you may already be in workshops or offering workshops at your school.
We wanted to offer some tips for a great start to the school year with PBIS. These suggestions apply regardless of how long you have been at it.
First, take a few minutes to recognize what you are grateful for this summer. Make a list of 2 or 3 things or more that you cherish and that have made your summer meaningful. They need not be great adventures though those experiences are memorable, but maybe it’s time with your family that you don’t easily have, time with special friends, time outside, sleeping in, reading for fun, walking, biking or whatever keeps you moving. Maybe you accomplished something this summer that you have really wanted to do. It’s very personal to you.
“Good job!” is a phrase often heard throughout schools. Indeed, one of the features of PBIS implementation includes a system to reinforce students as they learn, and generalize new behaviors and social skills. “Good Job!” has become a tired phrase some teachers use every time students do something. Or they might hand out a ticket to acknowledge a student’s good behavior. Neither of these things teach students to become more self-aware.
I have just completed my first year teaching abroad. I left Minnesota for the warm, tropical climate of Venezuela. The school where I am the behavior/climate specialist is international, meaning the students hold two passports in order to attend. Many students have a US passport, in addition to their Venezuelan passport, but other countries represented include Argentina, Colombia, Syria, Russia and China. I am thankful the classes are all in English (my Spanish is woefully inadequate). Many cultures are represented at my school, and I want to be respectful to the Venezuelans, I have spent this past school year trying to answer the question: How much of students’ behavior is based on culture and my perception of how schools should function?