Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting with several schools who are in the process of implementing PBIS. PBISAz was conducting a training conference for schools in their first year designing a school-wide system of positive behavior supports. Most schools had various components of PBIS in place, but few had a system in place to ensure that all components were aligned and working together. Without a system, change is not sustainable – no matter how hard a few dedicated people are working to put it in place.
One theme I see with every school is that there is a HUGE need for behavior interventions. Teachers want solutions, not systems. So, how can a team justify spending all their time on planning a system while neglecting the immediate intervention needs in their school? This is a dilemma I have a hard time justifying too. How can we tell schools to keep on planning for the future when the present is a plane wreck. How can we tell teachers that next year will be better, but we have nothing for you until then?
One answer to the question “why wait for a behavior intervention plan?” is that it is easier to rebuild an airplane on the ground then it is to rebuild the plane while in flight. We can give teachers simple behavior interventions and bits and pieces of behavior strategies but chances are, these pieces of knowledge will not be implemented or will not be used correctly. This is the equivalent of fixing the broken tail of an airplane when there is an engine on fire and the landing gear is stuck. Sure the tail needs fixing, but it won’t save the plane. A better solution, would have been to fix the tail, wings, engine, landing gear, and navigation system before we let the plane take off again.
The same holds true in schools. Individual interventions are much stronger when implemented within a system of supports. By spending time putting a system in place, everything will work better. In many cases, when a system is in place, there will be less problems in the school that need fixing. So, when behavior problems do pop up, they can be handled responsively, instead of in a reactionary fashion.