Charlie Coleman

Charlie Coleman is principal of Cowichan Secondary School in Duncan, British Columbia. He has been a principal at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels in ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities.

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:

  1. How is it we want our students to behave?
  2. How will we know if each student has learned how to behave?
  3. How will we respond when some students do not behave?
  4. 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.

Comments

Ada Perez

I agree, I am part of the PBIS committee at my school. Like it is mention we already created a whole school matrix and this year we included the expectations of using ipads. What it is still the struggle is targeting those behavior pieces of some specific students that even with interventions of Tier 1 and Tier 2 it doesn't seem to ease the behavior.

I would love some feedback and new ideas to bring to the table and help our kids be successful academically and control their behavior.

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Ophelia Holloway

No doubt, behavior effect the academic progress of our students. I believe that there are many issues that must be addressed before we can take an effective proactive stance. first, we must examine what an effective program should consist of. Our greatest challenge is to model a program that is supported by the board of education, the administrative staff, and teachers. We must be mindful that poverty, drug abuse of young parents and students all play a major role that affect the educational system. It is important that we continue to foster programs that give our teachers a better understanding of how to handle behavioral and stress issues of our students. I enjoyed reading your post. It demonstrated two major issues that must be solved.

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daynakciwner

Behavior and academics are undoubtedly linked, also the school climate and community are an essential piece in excelling school wide in academics and behavior. I am a firm believer in a school wide behavior system, everyone has the same accountability and are on the same page. Same expectations for all students as well as teachers being held to an equal standard. My district has implemented behavior tools, all teachers and all staff have been or will be trained in this so that not only as a school but district we have the same expectations as students transition through the different stages of their education.

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claire

I agree with the statement, "Behavior and academic success are inextricably linked" one hundred percent. When students are having trouble academically, odds are their behavior will reflect that and vice versa. It is extremely important that teachers are able to address these issues for their classrooms to run smoothly. In the school I work in, we do not currently have a school wide behavior management system in place. Instead, it is up to each of our teachers to develop and put into place their own system. However, most of these behavior management plans only address and reinforce positive behavior. In order for these systems to become more effective, teachers must set goals in their classrooms that define how they want their students to behave and develop a strategy that collects data showing the results. This will determine how well their systems work in their classrooms with each specific child. It will also force the teachers to become aware of specific children in their classes that need behavior charts or that extra bit of positive reinforcement.

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kristamarie

I work in a title 1 school that has had a school-wide behavior plan in place for a few years now. This school-wide behavior management system works very well for positive behavior support. The one concern that I do have in order for this system to function, is one must make sure there is efficient collaboration and teaming among staff. We do have RTII committees and behavior teams that address the academic and behavior concerns that arise, but they are not structured in a way that functions the best that it can. Often time is limited, so students of lesser concern do not get addressed. Teachers are not included in the team meetings. The teachers communicate solely by their point-of-contact and this often only takes place via email. Also, a lot of data is demanded for anything to get done with this data driven system. This data gets compiled by teachers, but the teachers are not given planning time to do this. In effect, I have found that more and more burden is placed on teachers who are already stretched thin. This needs to be addressed for this kind of data driven behavior system to function correctly.

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rrthrowe

I also believe that behavior and academics are very reflective of each other. This issue is increasing through out many of schools all over the world. That is why I was very pleased to see this topic posted in the blog.

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kristamarie

I teach at a similar school (Title 1) in a first grade classroom as well. I like your district's idea of making a video that can be shown to each of the classes from year to year. We do spend quite some time and energy teaching the school-wide behavior rules from our behavior matrix at the beginning and the middle of the year as a refresher. A video sounds like a neat technology based solution to making the behavior lessons consistent for the whole school! Thanks for mentioning it!

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awlockhart

I agree with this post very much. You cannot have learning without behavior. You need to get both undercontrol to be able to do our job. It depends on the kids and the subject, but in the end the blame will lay with the tecaher. I think this is a great way to look at it, and this post offered a some great suggestions about approach the topic.

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afesta

I find that this is something I struggle with daily. I have a classroom of 18 preschoolers ranging in age from 3-5 years. I work in an urban area. They are all very different in their learning styles, personalities, and behaviors. I have a child who is extremely behavioral which in turn disrupts the entire flow of the day. I really liked the questions that were posed in this blog. It gave me a new way to think about how to handle behavior issues in my class. It makes me realize how important it is to have great communication and teamwork amongst all of the teachers in order to share different strategies and ideas. I am currently trying to implement some sort of PLC in my school. Hopefully I can be successful in doing so being as there is a huge lack of support from administration.

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mhatch

We also have character counts tickets that students can receive for any kind of showing of good character. The student from each class with most at the end of the 6 week period get to go to a pizza party. Sometimes this works but I know with my students 6 weeks is a LONG time to look forward to something and they need more instant gratification.

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mhatch

I work at a title 1 school so discipline can be an issue at times. Our campus is has the only principal and assistant principal that has not changed in many years so they are constantly pulling them to other campuses to speak or train. This can cause issues on our campus because with them gone there is no consistent discipline at times. Also, since we are title 1 we need as many students there as possible in order to get our funding so they try not to "step" on the parents toes. This can also cause issues because then the school at times will side with the parent instead of the teacher and it can be very frustrating. Last year our opened up a new position for someone to create a What do you think? committee. This committee went around and anonymously questions every single employee in our district, even facilities. Apparently the topic of there not being enough administrative support was on the list and it has gotten better this year, although it could still use some work.
As a team the second grade has decided to start trying out Fun Fridays. Students that do not receive a tally (write up) or a written warning home will be able to participate in fun and engaging activities that will center around our weekly content. Those who did earn a tally or written note home with go to the reflection room where they will have to discuss their actions, their choices, and decided what they could do differently next time. They will also be doing character training and "busy" work if needed during this time instead of the fun activities. We are hoping this form of reinforcement will help get the students back on track and keep them there through the rest of the school year. Our first grade team is also going to try this technique out in hopes that it will help student dynamics and behavior issues altogether.
With the lack of administrative support we were kind of forced to take things into our hands and try to find a way to make it all work.

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liss101231

This is my first year using the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In my district, during the 2011-2012 school year, several administrators and teacher teams worked together and prepared a Planning and Scheduling Timeline (PTS) to guide instructional practice using the CCSS. The PST is broken into our school year’s 4 report periods with different sections for the core subject areas. At the top of each quarter there are goal statements that identify what students will be able to do in the beginning of the quarter and the end. The PST gives us eligible content that should be taught, the PA CCSS that match that eligible content, what that will mean for the students, and how students can apply their knowledge and skills to show proficiency and advanced knowledge. Having this PST has really helped me be able to plan my instruction using the CCSS.

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Lesli

I am a high school teacher at a rural Title I school. I found this issue to be very interesting. We do not have a school-wide behavior plan; we simply have generalized expectations, then specific expectations from each teacher. Students have to be mindful of rule changes with each of the eight different classrooms they walk into. I think it would be very beneficial to streamline and unify a school-wide behavior plan, and then watch how a predictable environment could trigger feelings of security that would result in improved learning. Provided that all teachers utilized and implemented the plan together, it could lead students toward the freedom that comes with a structured environment, while preparing them for the universal set of rules by which our society lives.

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lhise

The school I work i is a PBIS school as well and we do somethig very similar to the "BARK" behavior that your school has. Our school has our students show "ROAR" behavior. ROAR stands for: Respect, On Task, Attitude and Responsibility. By showing ROAR behavior they can earn a ROAR ticket. The children get rewards in their classrooms for earning a certain number of ROAR tickets, that is up ot their teacher to deicde. Every marking period the school gives a reward to the students who have earned 20 or more ROAR tickects. For example this month was lunch with the principle. The ROAR incentive works very well in our school. The students really want to earn ROAR tickets and most of them work very hard and are very proud of themselves.

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anniebelle

I am also an educator at a Title 1 school. In order to address behavioral issues, we too offer positive incentives for the students. For example, one Friday each month, Reward Day takes place in the gym. We have bouncy houses and slides. Students who display good behavior for the previous month get to attend this Reward Day.
In order to achieve better outcomes, I believe that behavior must reflect some of what is done academically. Students should understand that good behavior equals more fun while learning. One example would be allow those who have displayed good behavior to go outside to do certain classwork, when appropriate.

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Yvette

It is completely true to say that academics and behavior go hand in hand. The four core PLC questions that were stated served as an excellent guide when collaborating. I however, find the last question most interesting- How will we extend and enrich the learning of those students who have demonstrated proficiency? I am faced with a situation where I have a very smart student in sixth grade. He seldom gets anything wrong and does not participate in discussions. On the other hand he has a very huge discipline problem and is always getting into trouble with other kids. He is easily agitated and often picks on other students. Teachers are presently collaborating to find out if something is really bothering this student.

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jmcintir44

We have purple tickets that ae hand out for good behavior. At the end of each quarter we pick tickets out and those students win a prize. The students really enjoy winning the prizes and they work really hard to earn the tickets.

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jmcintir44

I too work at a title 1 school in a 1st grade classroom. Our school has been a PBIS school for about 5 years. Having common rules throughout the school has allowed students to transition from teacher to teacher with little problems. One really neat idea we have done is make a video for all of the areas in the school. For example we have a video on bathroom behavior. We show the video at the beginning of the school year. It shows approriate behavior as well as behavior that is not excepted, followed by appropriate behavior. The kids enjoy the videos and look forward to watching them year after year.

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kittieux

I also teach at a Title I school (I teach 11th & 12th grade)in an extremely low poverty area. I am at a loss in how to inspire and encourage good behavior. The kids I work with do not respond to rewards--unless they are some sort of compensation, or a 'day off' from learning. I would welcome any ideas on how to improve behavior. I've spoken with my collegues, who have mostly recommended "putting your foot down" to "get out your gradebook & deduct points." Neither of these methods seem to be effective. These kids come from a very rough background & really only respond to threats (because that is all they know). Any suggestions?

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MalChambers

PBIS sounds like a good plan. However, what happens when/if the faculty, staff and administration is not on the same page and willing to work with each other to help the behaviors?

I teach special education at a high school in Maryland. Some of my students' behaviors are extremely aggressive and manipulative. There are multiple times where instruction must stop for a teacher to escort a student to the office or school pyschologist.

Does anyone else teach high school that might have a method for motivation to act appropriately? Stickers, pencils, etc. are of zero motivation like elementary schoolers. : /

Thanks guys!

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briburk

This post was very interesting to me. I like the idea of integrating a PBIS program into local schools where I live. It makes alot of sense, especially when schools are already following the PLC model. I am curious about how the results will turn out long term, in regard to overall behavior in the classroom.

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brattonm

We have a school wide behavior plan green days for good days then, yellow,blue,orange, and red. When they get on red they go to principal office and he calls home. They have to get at least four green days a week to go to fun Friday activities.

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brattonm

I teach in a title school in a the city. We have students from low poverty areas. I struggle with the parents not reading with them at home. I send lucky listener bags home but they don't read to their parents at home. I teach kindergarten which is a foundation for reading

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teachtheyoung1s

I too teach in a title 1 school. We have had a PBIS program for the last three years that I have taught. Our slogan is "Show BARK behabior". This means B-behavior A- attitude R-respect and K- Kidness. The students do well and it helps with some behavior issues. There are a few students though that do not show an interest in the program.

We have a committee now that is working on ideas of how to keep them interested in having good behavior. In the past we had a prize behavior assembly but students would be very upset if they didn't get anything. Now we have different people come in for presentations. Our first was reptile man and the students were so excited about it.

I have seen some improvement in students who used to not care about the assemblies because they now have no idea what they could be missing out on.

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Tina

I teach at a Title I school. Behavior problems are an issue. Last year we formed a "behavior committee." This group of teachers/professionals came up with different ways to reach students through positive reinforcement. We partnered with a local store and they agreed to donate items that students would work hard to earn. We have paw print stickers that are offered to students for demonstrating good behavior or taking care of the school. For instance, yesterday a student spilled his milk in the cafeteria. He got paper towels and cleaned up his mess. I automatically gave him a paw print for his "behavior."
Students are able to cash in their paw prints at Paw Mart. It is like going into a store and purchasing pencils, markers, homework passes, a day in the teacher's chair, or lunch with the principal.

Due to this committee, we are able to collaborate as a team and make a difference at our school. We are offering incentives for good behavior and just doing a "good job" at school. The success of our students is important!

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kindyteacher

I am teaching at an international school in Asia. The behavior is pretty decent from students of all grade levels, however, when there is a discipline problem the administration 'sweeps' the problem under rug as they don't want to upset the parents (Tuition is above $20K per year). Because of this high tuition the admin prefers to act as if the problem never happened. Unfortunately there is little collaboration with teachers in any grade as well as the admin. We have all requested more collaboration with each other. We want to be able to focus on the curriculum and our daily teaching as well as the students and the future of our school.

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HPeters

I have had experience being in a school where PBIS was newly being implemented. The teachers were hesitant at first, being that it was a K-2 school, not knowing whether or not the students would respond to the school wide behavior system. As time went on, it was amazing to see the change that occurred in the student's behavior and, therefore, their drive to learn and receive the positive feedback. It completely supported the idea of behavior and academics being linked. The school decided to develop a motto of "Be Safe, Be Responsible, and Be Respectful." This motto was displayed all over the school and repeated daily to (and by) the students. When the students were caught being safe, responsible, or respectful, they would receive a ticket to bring to the office. When the jar in the office was full of tickets, the school as a whole would get a special prize. We found that the kids really responded to the positive reinforcement.

During this process, the teachers, as a building, were able to discuss what they found to working and where they had concerns. This collaboration is what lead to the success of the PBIS system that was used in this school.

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