Both Sides of the Pyramid: Behavior and Academics
“It’s hard to do the collaborative work of a professional learning community if your school is struggling with student behavior and school climate issues,” commented a teacher at a recent workshop we conducted. We couldn’t agree more.
Behavior and academic success are inextricably linked. Students struggling academically often act out with negative behavior. Students with behavioral challenges often struggle with academic success. The challenge for educators is in finding a way to address academics and behavior. Both are important.
So in our writings and workshops, we have rephrased the core PLC questions to also consider behavior:
- How is it we want our students to behave?
- How will we know if each student has learned how to behave?
- How will we respond when some students do not behave?
- How will we extend and enrich the learning for those students who have demonstrated proficiency?
We demonstrate how school teams can tackle the issues of behavior and academics at the same time. By combining the proven practice and structure of the PLC at Work™ process with the research-based concepts of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS), school teams can create the systems and interventions required to improve student behavior and learning simultaneously.
The PLC structures that support this work include:
- Collaborative teams
- Collective inquiry
- Data-driven dialogue
- Targeted, results-oriented interventions
The PBIS practices that support this work include:
- Creating a schoolwide behavior matrix
- Collaborating on values, priorities, and essential outcomes
- Targeting instruction based on evidence or data
- Generating a tiered approach to intervention
Of course, there is more to this work than a few bullets in a single blog post. What we heard from workshop participants as they spent two days making the connections between behavior and learning was that creating a school climate that is conducive to a collaborative focus on student learning is important work. They also agreed that creating a pyramid of interventions that addresses both behavior and academics is critical for school improvement.