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Pine River-Backus School Board learns of improved student behavior

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Pine River-Backus School Board members learned Monday, Nov. 18, how Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) is improving elementary students’ behavior.

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PBIS is a system that changes the way teachers prevent negative behavior in the classroom. First, staff define clear expectations for behavior throughout the school using common language. Second, the program focuses on rewarding positive behavior to reinforce those behaviors the teachers like to see. The third step involves informing staff and students about behavior expectations so there is consistency.

Noelle Johnson, Tena Odens and Denise Koring explained the program’s unique characteristics. Recognition of positive behaviors through “Tiger tickets” is one characteristic. Helping children to recognize and admit their own negative behavior is another.

“If a child doesn’t know how to read, reteach. If a child doesn’t know how to swim, reteach, multiply, we get it. But when the child misbehaves, what do we do? Do we teach or do we punish?” asked Johnson, an elementary school teacher. “So, why can’t we finish the last sentences automatically as we do the others? Students learn appropriate behavior in the same way a child who doesn’t know how to read learns to read — through instruction, practice, feedback and encouragement.”

Odens, also a teacher, said students still face consequences for negative behavior, but now reteaching is also used to reinforce the positive behaviors.

This reteaching can include proper handwashing, throwing away trash in proper receptacles and many other behaviors.

Current data is constantly being collected on student behavior so teachers can track changes throughout the year. Graphs presented to the board showed how behavior issues in the school have decreased or changed form. The graphs also showed that most misbehavior occurs in classrooms rather than in hallways or during recess, minor misbehaviors increase from 11:30 a.m. to noon, and kindergarten and sixth grade have the highest instances of misbehavior.

Data show the school has seen positive improvements in student behavior. Instances of physical aggression and defiance have been greatly reduced, and the majority of misbehavior consists of simple, minor disruptions in the classroom.

Pine River-Backus has been implementing this program for three years. Data will be incomplete until the end of the school year, but current data appears positive.

In other business Monday, the board:

• Learned the PR-B School won a runnerup award from the Minnesota Rural Education Association Profiles of Excellence for the school’s 2012-13 career day.

• Advised of modifications to be made to several school district policies. These policies pertain to video recording on school buses and video surveillance other than on buses. Modifications to the policies would make employees subject to discipline for negative behavior found on video.

• Approved the removal a policy defining principles for selecting and removing library materials and a policy about warning systems and plans after finding that both policies were already covered in other policies.

• Met representatives of the PR-B Elementary Student Council. Principal Rick Aulie hopes the council will be able to continue sending representatives to the board meetings.

• Heard from local resident Bonnie Lomen who thanked the board and those present for a more respectful board meeting compared to the October meeting.

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