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3 ways technology can support positive behavior in schools

How technology can help you apply Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in your schools

behavior-positiveAccording to the federal Education Department, more than 19,000 U.S. schools are using School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), an evidence-based framework to reduce disciplinary infractions, improve the school climate, and increase student achievement.

Similar to Response to Intervention (RTI), PBIS takes a three-tiered approach to instilling positive behavior in schools. Tier 1 focuses on interventions used on a school-wide basis for all students, such as actively teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. Tier 2 applies more targeted approaches to students who need additional support, while the third tier is for students who have significant behavioral problems and may require an individual behavior plan and perhaps wraparound services.

In Arizona, I’ve helped create an event called the Behavior, Education, Technology Conference (BET-C), which explores how technology can help with PBIS. We just held the fourth annual BET-C in early March.

Based on the sessions from this year’s conference, here are three ways technology can support the implementation of PBIS in schools.

Better data use

PBIS relies on using data to identify the behavioral needs within a school, so you can focus your efforts and resources where they will have the greatest impact. This is one key area where technology can help significantly.

Next page: How data collection and analysis can help

Using a data collection and analysis tool enables you to identify the students who have the highest number of disciplinary incidents, for example, so you can plan more specific Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions for these students.

Besides looking at individual students, you can use technology to identify areas of the school that might be “trouble spots.” For instance, if you determine that you have a high number of office referrals from the cafeteria, you might consider adding more staff to monitor lunches.

One of the pre-conference sessions at this year’s BET-C focused on the use of PBISApps, a suite of applications developed at the University of Oregon that helps educators make better decisions to support PBIS.

For instance, the School-Wide Information System (SWIS) is a web-based system for collecting and analyzing student behavior data. The reports available within SWIS allow PBIS teams to review school-wide referrals and understand behavior patterns in greater detail. Users have the ability to drill down to specific incidents and then visualize the data with SWIS to share with administrators, counselors, and parents.

Another program, Pearson Review360, helps educators report on student behavior in their classrooms, analyze these observations to identify key trends, develop intervention plans for individual students, and track the progress of these efforts. It also includes universal screening tools to identify students who have special behavioral needs.

Streamlined professional development

One of the challenges to sustaining a PBIS initiative is staff turnover; when the teachers and administrators on the original PBIS team leave, are there systems in place to make sure these efforts will continue?

Staff development is critical to sustainability. Review360 includes a library of professional development videos to support PBIS implementation.

Another professional development service for PBIS comes from KOI Education, which is one of the co-sponsors of BET-C. It’s a series of multimedia books available for the iPad through iTunes. These digital manuals, which are also available in print format, help guide teams through the PBIS implementation process.

Deeper student engagement

When students are engaged in learning, they are less likely to act inappropriately in class. Boredom, on the other hand, frequently leads to a disciplinary problem. And when students tune out, it’s often because the content is either too challenging or not challenging enough.

Technology can help personalize the learning for students, by adapting the level of instruction to students’ needs or allowing them to work at their own pace. And that, in turn, can reduce the number of behavioral issues that teachers see in class.

Odysseyware, which is another BET-C co-sponsor, is one of many online platforms that can help personalize instruction for students. Incorporating a mix of grade-appropriate text, direct instruction videos, learning activities, and games, Odysseyware’s online content can be used in a blended-learning environment for either whole-class instruction or self-paced learning.

When implemented with fidelity, PBIS can result in a more positive school climate, with fewer class disruptions—which can lead to improved learning. And technology can play a key role in that success.

Karen Gifford is director of the Behavior, Education, Technology Conference (BET-C) in Phoenix, Ariz.

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