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Intervention

Guide to PBIS Training for Teachers and Staff 

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Because the success of your school’s positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) program relies on effective implementation, it’s essential to provide educators with the necessary tools and support. PBIS training for teachers and staff bolsters your PBIS framework by educating staff and empowering them with the foundation needed to use PBIS in their classrooms and throughout the school.

In this article, we’ll review the important components of PBIS professional development, including a sample curriculum to guide your own program. PBIS goes beyond a single presentation. The most effective training program leverages incremental instruction with regular follow-up support, check-ins, and data-driven decision-making. Whether you’re new to PBIS or already have an existing framework in place, this article will help you develop a PBIS implementation plan that empowers educators and leads to better outcomes for students. 

Who Participates in PBIS Professional Development? 

A successful PBIS program relies on teamwork and varied avenues of cooperation. That’s why your training shouldn’t be limited to teachers only. A strong PBIS framework involves all levels of your school, from counselors to support staff and leadership.  

The staff members in your training program can include: 

  • Teachers 
  • Counselors 
  • School staff 
  • Principals 
  • District personnel 
  • Janitors, cafeteria personnel, bus drivers, and office staff 

There is no set rule for who can and cannot participate effectively in PBIS. The only rule to PBIS involvement is that a strong framework depends on collaboration. 

Importance of Buy-In 

When embarking on your PBIS journey, it’s critical to get PBIS teacher buy-in. There may be educators who are resistant to change. Your teachers and other faculty members might be wondering if they can make PBIS work. Your staff is likely accustomed to a certain way of doing things—like disciplining and referring students—so a large part of the success of your fledgling PBIS initiative depends on your ability to help them adapt to this new method.  

Fortunately, creating a solid PBIS training and development plan will go a long way to help your teachers and other staff feel at ease. Confidence often stems from competence, so if your faculty members know they’ll be supported throughout your ongoing implementation of PBIS, they’ll be far more likely to support it, which, naturally, increases its chances of success.  

Benchmark Your Current PBIS Implementation 

The first step is for you and your appointed leadership team to assess where you currently are with PBIS. This will help you determine your goals so you can formulate a step-by-step plan. Here are some common tools that can be used as part of your evaluation: 

School-wide Assessment Survey (SAS): This helps you evaluate your school’s behavioral support systems in four key areas: 

  1. School-wide discipline systems 
  2. Non-classroom management systems (cafeteria, hallways, etc.) 
  3. Classroom management systems 
  4. Systems for individual students with chronic, challenging behaviors    

School-wide Evaluation Tool (SET): Similar to the SAS, this is used to measure the effectiveness of your school’s current behavioral support systems across each academic school year. 

Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI): Used to determine how well your school is implementing each tier of PBIS. 

Structure Your PBIS Staff Training Sessions  

When structuring effective PBIS staff training sessions, consider: 

  1. Outlining goals for the training session (what do you want staff to learn today?) 
  2. Defining and describing the core components of the given PBIS tier or feature 
  3. Giving examples of the core components 
  4. Allowing time to answer questions and provide additional clarification or examples 
  5. Defining the next steps and outlining how to measure successful learning and implementation 

Follow Best Practices  

Here are a few ways to ensure your staff and teachers receive a comprehensive and supportive training program that sets them up to perform at their best. You can implement all or some of these best practices. Like everything else in PBIS, the end result will vary depending on your school’s individual goals, needs, and resources. 

  • Break it down. Don’t overwhelm your staff by trying to teach every detail of PBIS in a single session. Break your curriculum into smaller modules and give staff time to master each one. 
  • Link training to your district’s overall plan. District-wide goals could be increased attendance and/or instruction time, fewer referrals, or higher grade-point averages. It’s here that you’ll justify each part of your PBIS training plan to ensure it fits your district’s scope and objectives.  
  • Invest in PBIS coaches. Implementing new PBIS strategies can sometimes be overwhelming for teachers and staff when they’re already presented with other responsibilities for students. Give them support through PBIS coaches that provide professional support like in-classroom feedback.  
  • Foster collaboration. In addition to outside PBIS coaches, peer-to-peer collaboration can hugely support your PBIS training program. Encourage mentorships, sharing of tips and best practices, and other collaboration among your staff. 
  • Measure outcomes. Consider how you will measure the outcomes of your training sessions and in which ways you can iterate on the training plan for the future.   
  • Provide ongoing support. Ensure that there is an ongoing professional development support for your staff as they implement this framework going forward.  

An Example of a PBIS Training Curriculum 

We’ve broken down a sample PBIS training curriculum. Each school or district will have a different curriculum to meet its own school cultures’ goals, needs, and resources. However, the pbis training modules below will help you get started.  

PBIS Tier 1 exploration and readiness 

This module gives teachers and staff an introduction to positive behavioral interventions and supports: what it is, why it’s important, and how it works. This is a crucial time to foster staff and teacher buy-in for your PBIS initiative, so it’s important to highlight how PBIS can help them in their own roles at your school. In this module, you’ll review Tier 1, the foundational tier of PBIS where all students receive the same essential support. 

Desired outcomes for this module 

  • Foundational knowledge of PBIS and Tier 1 
  • Understanding of the “why” for implementing PBIS 
  • At least 80% buy-in among staff and teachers 
  • Development of leadership teams at school and district levels  

Training content for this module 

During this training session, you can expect to cover: 

  1. The definition of PBIS 
  2. Data and research supporting the efficacy of PBIS 
  3. The core features of PBIS: 
  • Outlining the expected behaviors for students (classroom rules, schoolwide behavioral matrix) 
  • Teaching the expected behaviors and giving concrete, real-world examples 
  • Recognizing students who exhibit desired behaviors  
  • Discouraging negative behaviors 
  • Making data-informed decisions 
  1. The “why” behind using PBIS at your school 
  • Review current weaknesses at your school and district 
  • Outline how PBIS will help alleviate those issues 
  • Discuss the overall benefits of PBIS for students, teachers, and staff 
  • Identify the desired outcomes of your PBIS framework 

PBIS Tier 1 implementation 

This module reinforces training from the last module and builds upon it with actionable plans for implementing PBIS Tier 1. At this point, you should already have a schoolwide PBIS goal, behavioral matrix, and other outlined expectations. Additional tools to help PBIS training for teachers and staff include PBIS lesson plans and example schedules, and defined responses to behavioral issues (like a flow chart outlining what to do in response to specific behaviors.) 

Training content for this module 

During this training session, you can expect to cover: 

  1. A review of information from the last module 
  2. The science of behaviors 
  3. Effective classroom practices: 
  • Outline and teach classroom rules, procedures, and expectations 
  • How to recognize positive behaviors 
  • Strategies to prevent negative behaviors 
  • How to implement active supervision 
  • How to use opportunities to respond appropriately  
  1. Best practices for student, family, and community involvement  
  • Why it’s important 
  • How to foster communication and buy-in 
  • Define steps the school or district will take to promote communication 
  1. Related PBIS practices and strategies for academic performance and other initiatives 
  • How are you creating an interwoven, streamlined, related framework? 
  1. Processes and procedures 

PBIS Tier 2 Exploration and Readiness 

Once teachers and staff have successfully mastered Tier 1, they’re ready to explore Tier 2. This PBIS training session builds on the previous modules and explores the foundational principles of Tier 2 (targeted supports).  

Training content for this module 

During this training session, you can expect to cover: 

  1. A review of Tier 1 and how it relates to Tier 2 
  2. Importance for Tier 2: 
  • Prevention of new negative behaviors 
  • Lowering the rates of current negative behaviors 
  • Providing targeted support for students who don’t respond to Tier 1  
  • Why we need Tier 2 (prevention of new negative behaviors) 
  1. The Tier 2 process: 
  • Identify the student 
  • Collect and review data to clearly define the negative behavior 
  • Choose and implement the targeted intervention 
  • Monitor student progress and make data-supported adjustments 

PBIS Tier 2 Implementation 

This PBIS training session builds on the previous modules and gives actionable steps, best practices, and tools to implement Tier 2 interventions. 

Training content for this module 

During this training session, you can expect to cover: 

  1. Research-informed interventions (small groups for social skills, check-in and check-out) 
  2. How to effectively communicate with students and parents 
  3. How to use an information management system to: 
  • Track behaviors, targeted interventions, and outcomes 
  • Match interventions to student behaviors 
  • Evaluate program success and make necessary changes 
  1. Processes and procedures in place to identify students: 
  • What tools are available 
  • How teachers and staff can use them 
  • Procedures for using tools (where to submit a teacher nomination form or a standardized screening tool) 

PBIS Tier 3 Exploration and Readiness 

Once teachers and staff have successfully mastered Tier 1 and Tier 2, they are ready to explore Tier 3. This PBIS training session builds on the previous modules and explores the foundation of Tier 3 (intensive support).  

Training content for this module 

During this training session, you can expect to cover: 

  1. A review of Tiers 1 and 2, and how they relate to Tier 3 
  2. Importance of Tier 3 
  • Prevention of new negative behaviors 
  • Lowering rates of current negative behaviors 
  • Targeted support for students who don’t respond to Tier 2 
  1. Process of Tier 3 
  • Identify the student 
  • Collect and review data to clearly define the negative behavior 
  • Design an individualized behavior support plan (BSP) according to school climate 
  • Choose and implement additional targeted interventions and individualized supports 
  • Monitor student progress and make data-supported adjustments 

PBIS Tier 3 Implementation 

This PBIS training session builds on the previous modules and gives actionable steps, best practices, and tools to implement Tier 3 interventions. 

Training content for this module 

During this training session, you can expect to cover: 

  1. How to maintain Tier 1 and Tier 2 systems with fidelity 
  2. How to foster communication with parents and support specialists 
  3. How to write behavioral support plans (BSPs) or functional behavioral assessments (FBAs) 
  4. Review processes for: 
  • Identifying students (screenings, nominations, data tracking) 
  • Defining negative behaviors with teachers and family 
  • Submitting BSPs and FBAs 
  • Using information management systems to monitor data and progress 

Bonus: your training or support team can also give additional guidance and coaching to staff who currently work with students receiving Tier 3 interventions. This support can either be additional training during the module or follow-up coaching. 

Finalizing Your PBIS Training for Staff

Putting together a training and professional development plan can seem daunting at first, but it’s an important aspect of successfully implementing your PBIS initiative. A strong plan helps keep everything structured and gives your staff a clear roadmap.  

The above is just a general idea of how to model your PBIS training for staff. However, you should customize the curriculum to meet the needs and goals of your school. Plan your modules based on the number of professional development days on your academic calendar, and tailor the curriculum to your staff’s existing PBIS knowledge. Even if it’s not initially perfect, your plan can be a source of reassurance and an excellent way to galvanize your staff and make your PBIS initiative a success. Good luck! 

 This article was adapted from a blog post initially developed by the education technology company Classcraft, which was acquired by HMH in 2023. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

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Find more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.

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