Saturday, 1 December 2012

Both Sides of the Pyramid: Behavior & Academics

“It’s hard do the collaborative work of a Professional Learning Community if your school is struggling with student behavior and school climate issues”. This was a comment from a teacher at a recent workshop. We agree.

Co-author and friend, Tom Hierck and I recently hosted the “launch” of our 2-day workshops based on our book, “Pyramid of Behavior Interventions: Seven Keys to a Positive Learning Environment”The team at Solution Tree always does a great job of putting on these professional learning opportunities. Participants were actively engaged and their feedback was very positive.

What became clear to the K-12 educators in this session is what Tom and I (and our third author, Chris Weber) have been saying for years. In terms of school improvement, 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.

In our book, we have re-phrased 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?
In our workshop, we demonstrate how school teams can tackle the issues of behavior and academics at the same time.  By combining of the proven practice and structure of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model 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 school-wide Behavior Matrix
  • Collaborating on agreed-up 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 can be simplified into a few bullets in a single blog post.  What we heard from participants as they spent the 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. Participants also agreed that creating a pyramid of interventions that addresses both behavior and academics is critical for school improvement.