Communication, partnership with parents and community is key to personal, social development

I wanted to share with you how we work with students to enforce positive behavior in our schools. In the past, we called this "discipline" but what we have learned is that reinforcing good behavior is much more effective than punishment.

COURTESY PHOTO - Woodburn Supt. Chuck RansomOur schools use a program called the Positive Behavior Incentive System (PBIS). This program was created by researchers George Sugai and Rob Horner at the University of Oregon in the late 1990s. It starts from the premise that children need to be taught appropriate behaviors for different settings, such as the classroom, a theater, restrooms and public events.

In these teachings, our schools emphasize four key behavior models for students to emulate: respect, kindness, safety and responsibility. The end result is better student academic performance, increased safety, a decrease in problem behavior and a positive school climate.

Students are still held accountable for their behavior if positive reinforcement is unsuccessful. The district considers the age of the student and his/her past pattern of behavior prior to suspension or expulsion. These decisions are made in a consistent and fair manner without bias.

As part of PBIS, each school in Woodburn School District has developed school-wide procedures to accomplish the following:

Define Behavior Expectations

A small number of clearly defined behavioral expectations are defined in positive, simple rules.

Teach Behavioral Expectations

The behavioral expectations are taught to all students in each building and are taught in real contexts. The general rule is presented, the rationale for the rule is discussed, positive examples ("the right way") are described and rehearsed and negative ("the wrong way") are described and modeled. Students are given an opportunity to practice the "right way" until they demonstrate fluent performance.

Acknowledge Appropriate Behaviors

Once appropriate behaviors have been defined and taught, they need to be acknowledged on a regular basis. Each school has developed a formal system that rewards positive behavior.

Proactively Correct Behavior Errors

When students violate the behavioral expectations, they are informed that their behavior was unacceptable. Clear procedures are used to redirect students to appropriate behavior.

Another key element to PBIS is the analysis by the school team of discipline referral data. The team-based approach allows the school to identify the problem areas, brainstorm interventions, access needed support for a child, acknowledge the students exhibiting the expected behavior and communicate the findings to staff, students and parents.

PBIS is another way we partner with parents and community members. Reinforcing positive behavior in children outside of school is important to their personal and social development. Please contact your child's school if you would like to learn more about the program and its proven effectiveness.

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