By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Entries with keyword: PBIS
Posts 1 - 10 of 10

Thursday, March 8, 2018

PBIS and Tardies

One of our customers told us about a surprise success. They had purchased Behavior Manager mainly because they had a big problem with tardies. They had started using our tardy station and enabling teachers to do one-click tardies when a student walked into class late. They had also implemented tardy rules so students were warned or automatically assigned consequences immediately.

A couple of weeks after starting to use the system, one administrator encountered another in the hall between classes. He asked, "Did the bell ring? I didn't hear it." The other admin answered, "No, not yet." The first asked, "Where is everybody?" The second answered, "They're in class."

The main benefit from Behavior Manager's tardy system is that it's easy and consistent. Students quickly learn that they aren't going to get away with tardies so they make it a priority to get to class.

Another benefit of equal importance is that the tardy system doesn't add any more lost instruction time than what the student has already lost by being late. It doesn't make sense to tell a student arriving late to class to march down to the office to get a tardy pass. That's just more lost instruction time. Rather, the teacher taps a link, the student is marked as tardy, the tardy rule fires based on the number of tardies recorded and assigns the student a consequence such as a warning or detention. But he doesn't miss additional instruction time.

Here's how we recommend you use Behavior Manager most effectively for reducing tardies.

  • Teach the school expectations for attendance and on-time and ready arrival.
  • Assign consequences consistently and automatically. Do not automatically apply serious consequences such as suspensions. They should be handled face-to-face.
  • If you're having tardy-to-school problems, talk with the parents. Stress the importance of on-time arrival at PTA meetings as well as individual meetings. Also stress that on-time student attendance is essential to student success.
  • If you're having a lot of late-to-class problems, look for systemic problems like crowded hallways, traffic jams or delays associated with lockers.
  • Try hallway sweeps where admins and planning period teachers walk the halls encouraging students to get to class on time or citing tardiness through their phone immediately in the hallway.
If taking these steps still leave you with too many tardies, it's time to gather some data. Why are these students late? Have students caught tardy fill out a form to learn more about the reasons. An example form is shown here.

Have the student indicate all reasons that they are tardy to class


    • Talking with Friends 
    • Trouble with peers 
    • Overslept 
    • Illness 
    • At locker/cafeteria 
    • Trouble at home 
    • Don’t sign in 
    • Off-campus lunch


    • Late leaving class
    • Don’t like class 
    • Class too difficult 


    • Day of week 
    • Transportation 
    • Parking 
    • Location of class 
    • Passing time too short 
    • Bathroom 
    • Bells/clocks 

Other: __________________________


Typically, the majority of your tardy problems will be effectively handled by setting expectations and having a system that's easy and consiistent for dealing with tardies that does not cause an ever greater loss of instruction time, i.e., Behavior Manager.

See our One-Click Tardy Station in action

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Keywords: tardies, Behavior Manager, PBIS


Friday, March 2, 2018

Success Story: Darden Middle School

We noticed in the Behavior Manager statistics that Darden Middle School has seen significant improvement in office referrals over the past two years. I asked Assistant Principal Edwina Lucas about that.

Edclick: We saw your office referrals were down 33% from 2016 and 54% from 2015. Are doing something new to see such dramatic improvements?

Edwina Lucas: Yes, we’re doing a number of things. We’re doing PBIS, teaching expectations monthly, celebrating positive behavior. Also, some of the staff members we lost had high referrals. It’s a conglomeration of different things.

There is a typical signature in office referrals when a teacher needs to improve classroom management skills. The combination of disrespect, disruptive behavior and insubordination suggests disorder. When a new teacher experiences this in his classroom he may think that he's just not cut out to be a teacher. But it's simpler than that. There are a collection of classroom management skills that the best teachers master. To the uninitiated, it almost seems like a magical power. But it's not. It's a set of skills that can be learned and practiced. Darden Middle School addressed it with teaching coaches.

Edclick: It seems that the misbehaviors that were reduced the most were in the areas of disrespect, disruptive behavior, inappropriate language and insubordination. We ordinarily see improvements in those areas when there’s an improvement in classroom management skills. Are you doing anything specifically to improve classroom management skills?

Edwina Lucas: We have been doing classroom management sessions. We have two coaches. One works mostly with new teachers and the other works with teachers across the board. There’s a lot more support in that area this year that we didn’t have last year.

One of the foundational ideas of PBIS is to make evidence-based decisions. The data collection and reporting capabilities make it possible to see what's going on in the school and to see the effects of interventions. One of the things that differentiates the most successful schools from the rest is that they make the effort to learn what the data is telling them.

Edclick: Are there any other ways that Behavior Manager could be more useful for you?

Edwina Lucas: It’s doing everything we need it to do. We study the reports regularly to tell us where the hotspots are. We look at kids who don’t have referrals. Kids that have high referrals. We do extra work with the students who are high flyers. We have a lot of things going on that are positive.

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Keywords: success story, Behavior Manager, PBIS


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Success Story: Oxford Middle School

Our Behavior Manager statistics for Oxford Middle School showed extraordinary improvements this year.

  • Referrals down 25% from last year
  • Out-of-placement consequences down 51% from last year

I called Neil Burton, Assistant Principal at Oxford Middle School about their success.

Edclick: We noticed that referrals were down by 25% from last year and out of placement consequences were down by 51%. Are you doing something different to get these improvements?

Neil Burton: We have tried to move toward a PBIS model. We still include the punitive model in some respects but we have tried to shift toward that PBIS model as much as possible.

Oxford Middle School is not alone in this. Many folks assume that once they adopt PBIS, there will be no more misbehaviors. Not so. Misbehaviors are often significantly reduced but they don't disappear. Schools still need consequences when required.

Edclick: How did you do that? Are you teaching expectations early in the school year and rewarding positive behaviors?

Neil Burton: Exactly. We’ve always done that but not with the fidelity with which we tackled it this year. We can quickly give a child points for behavior…helping out someone or being responsible or accountable. That’s made a big difference.

There was also a change with out of school suspension. We changed our code of conduct. We try to keep every child in school unless it was a violent act or there was blood drawn, charges pressed or there was a knife or drugs…otherwise, instead of sending them home, we use ISS.

Improved behavior not only improves the atmosphere in classrooms making them more conducive to learning, it it reduces the amount of instruction time that students miss. This is a big benefit. Students who are out of class rapidly deteriorate achievement. This applies both to students who are sitting in the office waiting for a tardy slip and to students who get suspended. In addition to reducing the number of suspensions, schools can use innovative consequences which keep students in class. One example is Check In/Check Out.

Edclick: Do you use Check In/Check Out? We see that being used as an alternative to OSS. It has the benefits you’re talking about where you keep the kids in school yet you’re addressing the problem.

Neil Burton: We have used it with a few students.

Beware of the trap of simply mandating that teachers solve their own classroom behavior problems. They still need backup.

Edclick: Sometimes we hear a complaint from teachers where administrators are doing PBIS and they’re telling us that they can’t do referrals any more.

Neil Burton: We addressed that with the teachers getting started. We explained that we’re adding a carrot in front of the child. We’re not taking away the stick. We’ll still use the stick if needed…metaphorically. We’re just adding to the arsenal that the teacher can use.

We see that a lot of the teachers are really good at reinforcing positive behavior. At the end of the period they take the time to note that kids are responsible, accountable, working hard. They’re giving them points right then and there.

Keep in mind that when you're adopting proactive behavior methods, you're making a culture change and that it takes time. At Delay Middle School, the school that Behavior Manager was originally built for, the proactive behavior teaching got easier each year. After three years, when all of the original students had moved on, behavior management was much easier. It had become part of the culture. New students picked it up from the current students.

Edclick: We’ve seen that there’s a culture change in the school when you start using these techniques. Sometimes it takes time for the kids who aren’t of the new culture to move on. In the meantime, you’re teaching the new culture to each new incoming class.

Neil Burton: Yes, even though we’re using PBIS, kids are sometimes going to misbehave. We talk about above the line and below the line behavior. We have high expectations for our teachers. And we expect them to lay out high expectations for their students and follow them throughout the year. If they do, great. And rewards are appropriate. If they’re not, we empower teachers to address it. If they can’t, then we will. We do try to make sure that the teachers know that they have the autonomy to deal with the parents, make those phone calls, give their own detention. If that doesn’t work, of course, send them our way.

Congratulations to students and staff at Oxford Middle School for the great improvements this year!

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Keywords: sucess story, Behavior Manager, PBIS


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Success Story: Fike High School

Our Behavior Manager statistics for Fike High School show a dramatic improvement in office referrals this year. I asked Assitant Principal Timothy Messer about that.

Edclick: We noticed your referrals were down 67% compared to last year. Have you done something different?

Timothy Messer: We sure have! We made a change in the culture. We increased accountability and consistency and set expectations.

Edclick: How did you do that?

Timothy Messer: Training on expectations at the beginning of the school year. And a new rules matrix. We required consistency among teachers, administrators and students. There’s no more “this teacher says this” and “that teacher says that.” With training it’s now consistent across the board.

Edclick: I see that most of your improvement was in disrespect, disruptive behavior, inappropriate language and insubordination. Improvement in these areas are typically the result of improved classroom management skills. Did you work on that?

Timothy Messer: We did a lot of training on what defines a misbehavior. We made it clear what should be handled in the classroom and what requires an office referral.

Edclick: Is there any way we can improve Behavior Manager to better support you?

Timothy Messer: I don’t think so. Behavior Manager is an excellent program. It’s easy to use. And it does just what we need.

Randy St. Clair, Principal of Fike High school, added: It's been the result of buy-in from both teachers and students. The staff and administration are working hard to be consistent in handling discipline but also rewarding positive behavior We're just getting started. I know it can be better than what it is. I am excited and thrilled to see that the things we've put in place are having a positive result in our building. Thanks for your support.

It isn't easy to make such a significant change in a school's culture in one year! But the folks at Fike have demonstrated that it is definitely possible. A complete culture change, the transition for proactive behavior methods to fully take root, typically takes several years. With so much progress in the first year, we're looking forward to the results over the next few years.

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Keywords: success story, Behavior Manager, PBIS


Monday, November 27, 2017

PBIS capabilities in Behavior Manager

Research shows that the most effective approach to student behavior is carrots and sticks: a balance of positive supports with mild punishments.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an approach to student behavior that is getting a lot of attention. PBIS is a reaction to traditional student discipline which typically translated to punishment for misbehavior. And if the misbehavior is repeated, punishments will be increasingly severe. And the biggest problem with traditional discipline is that it isn't very effective. It's not effective either for schools or students in the ultimate goal of improving student achievement.

Here's an example of traditional discipline run amok. A student is tardy to class, so he's sent to the office for a punishment. We don't want students to be tardy to class because they miss instruction time and their late arrival is somewhat disruptive. But when the student is sent to the office because he's tardy, he's missed even more instruction time. If he's been tardy several times, he may now be given a severe punishment of suspension from school. With the suspension, he may miss three entire days of instruction. Now you have a student in serious risk of falling behind. Repeat this in several classes over several years and you have a student who is at serious risk of dropping out. Without even a high school diploma, his job prospects are poor. The student is not well served. The school is not well. And the community is not well served.

Does this actually happen? Yes. We see in our discipline data that it happens all the time.

PBIS is a positive approach to student behavior. It's goal is to avoid student misbehaviors, avoid missed instruction time and keep students in school through completion. Here's how it works.

Teach expectations. PBIS assumes that students must be taught what is expected of their behavior, practices these skills and get frequent feedback on whether they're doing it right.

Reward students for appropriate behavior. This is the "positive" part of PBIS. Teach appropriate behavior by rewarding it rather than just punishing unwanted behavior. You will find products on the market for which tracking positive points for appropriate behavior is all they do. Yes, that's "positive" but PBIS is much more. We have a component in Behavior Manager, One-Click Merits, for easily rewarding students for proper behaviors but we certainly don't consider it as a total PBIS solution.

You will also encounter teachers who will object to rewards for appropriate behavior. They object that they aren't going to give students rewards for things they should be doing anyhow. Two things about that. First, it may not be clear to the students what they should be doing. That's why they need to be taught. Second, you don't have to keep the rewards coming forever. It's not like a paycheck. The positive rewards are a teaching tool to reinforce the lesson of expected behaviors. As with any reinforcement plan, the rewards can be faded over time as the expected behaviors become routine for the student.

Reteach expectations. After you've taught expectations and provided positive feedback and then a student misbehaves, now do you punish him? Well, what would you do in math class when a student gets the wrong answer to a division problem? Punish him? Or do you reteach him, give him more practice and try again?

One way Behavior Manager helps to reteach expectations is through our Behavior Questionnaires and Character Builders. These are fairly lengthy questionnaires that encourage students to reflect upon their behavior and consider its effect on themselves, fellow students and parents. Behavior Questionnaires focus on specific behavior issues and Character Builders focus on positive character traits. Behavior Questionnaires and Character Builders are often used as interventions for misbehaviors but notice that they are not punishments. They are a form of reteaching expected behaviors.

Function of behavior. When a student misbehaves, why did she do it? Is she looking for attention from the teacher? Is she in a power struggle with the teacher? Does she seek attention from her peers? Is she hoping to escape having to do something that she's not prepared to do? Each of these is a different possible function that may be behind an act of student misbehavior. Different interventions should be applied to match the function.

In Behavior Manager we have Motivations which are a set of student motivations or functions of behavior that may be behind a student's actions. When the teacher selects a Motivation, interventions that are appropriate to that motivation are suggested to the teacher. Choosing an intervention that is appropriate to a student's motivation can help avoid escalations, power struggles and attempts to escape stressful situations.

Nonpunitive interventions. Some students will need more attention to thair behavior than the rest. Is this the time for punishment? Some interventions have been shown to be effective for troublesome students which do not involve punishment. One that has been extensively researched is Check In/Check Out (CICO). It involves rating a student's behavior in each period of the day, reviewing it at the end of the day and having the parents sign the day's rating card that night to be returned the next morning. In other words, CICO involves a lot of personal attention to a student regarding her behavior in each period of each day. These ratings are tracked over weeks looking for improvements in the ratings scores. Does goal setting and lots of personal daily attention help improve student behavior? Yes. And it is far more effective than a suspension.

That's why Behavior Manager provides extensive support for CICO tracking, goal setting and signature tracking. Behavior Manager also provides support for other nonpunitive interventions such as Restorative Justice, Mentoring, Social Skills Club and others.

Improve teaching skills. A teacher who has not mastered classroom management skills or who presents lessons in a boring or confusing way is likely to have trouble in the classroom. Often, new teachers are left to their own devices to develop classroom management skills. Often they are not successful. An inability to manage a classroom is one of the most commonly cited causes of leaving the teaching profession.

Behavior Manager addresses the critical need for improving classroom management skills in the aptly named module Practice Classroom Management Skills. It gives a teacher deliberate practice in a specific skill to apply each day. If an administrator notices a pattern of referrals suggesting classroom management skills in need of improvement, she can assign the Practice to the teacher and see that the teacher is checking into the module daily.

PBIS goes a long way beyond giving students recognition points. And Behavior Manager has it covered.

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Keywords: PBIS, one-click merits, behavior questionnaires, character builders, motivation, Check In/Check Out, restorative justice, mentoring, social skills club, Practice Classroom Management Skills


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How can behavior be improved?

The traditional view of school discipline is that punishment will serve as a deterrent. If a student is not deterred, step up the punishment. The extreme case is to expel an incorrigible student.

The traditional approach works for most students. But for the students who do not respond, there may be serious consequences. Missing school through suspensions and expulsions leads to poor academic performance and often to dropping out. It also leads to negative attitudes toward shool when the student does return. Further, for students who may not have learned the rules of behavior and socialization in their home life, teaching through catching mistakes and punishment is a brutish way to teach.

As a result, positive behavior supports (PBIS) continues to gain support as a better alternative. I treats school misbehavior as primarily a knowledge and skills issue. Teach behavior expectations, provide frequent feedback, emphasizing positive feedback and keep track of students' mastery of the knowledge and skills. When a student misbehaves, try to figure out why. Lack of knowledge? Desire for attention? Escape from a situation or responsibilty? Tailor the response to the motivation.

A few things are left out of the story.

With both the carrots approach (PBIS) and sticks approach (traditional discipline) the assumption is that the misbehavior should be corrected by the student. But take tardies. They may be caused by crowded hallways, malfunctioning lockers or classes being too far away from one another.

Another common trigger of student misbehavior is poor teaching skills. Boring, unengaging teachers are likely to see students invent new ways to engage their minds in the classroom. Teachers who lack "withitness" skills often miss opportunities to nip off task behavior in the bud, then things get out of hand.

A third issue is parent's attitudes. If parents are casual about school hours, for example, tardies may be common. Again, not exactly the fault of the student.

So, what's to be done?

First, recognize that conditions that are not under the student's control can contribute to infractions.

Second, gather data that gives you insight into what's going on. Are there teachers with abnormally high rates of office referrals? Why? Are there systemic problems like crowded hallways that cause problems? Fix them.

Third, set goals for improving student behavior with a strategy for how you'll make the improvement. Then watch the numbers. If the improvement isn't coming, figure out why and try something new.

Remember, student achievement is highly correlated to student behavior. It's worth the effort to make it better.

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Keywords: PBIS, carrots and sticks, continuous improvement


Monday, November 13, 2017

PBIS for teachers?

PBIS is being widely advocated to improve student behavior in schools. The basic outline is

  • Teach behavior expectations
  • Give frequent feedback on whether the expections are being met
  • Reteach the expectations if they aren't being met
  • Have more intensive interventions for the few students who don't respond to the above steps by exhibiting the expected behaviors

Why should PBIS be limited to students? Why not extend it to teachers, too? For that matter, why not extend it to any organization where behavior expectations exist?

Here are some objections.

But teachers are professionals. They shouldn't be micromanaged.

True, but they should be managed. Some (all?) teachers would benefit from feedback on how they're doing. It mustn't be overdone but it should be done.

New teachers especially benefit from guidance on teaching skills that they never got in their traing. The more common error is that teachers who would benefit from guidance typically get too little of it rather than expert teachers get too much.

But there's no time for all that monitoring and feedback. We've got work to do.

Guess what? That's exactly what you hear about PBIS for students. If the program is effective, time is saved in the long run by more smoothly running classrooms.

But teachers won't respond to rewards.

Oh yeah? Everyone likes to be recognized for their work. And not just during Teacher Appreciation Week. Recognition throughout the year will make a happier workplace and more enthusiatic teachers.

Make the recognition regular and frequent. And just like student recognition, keep track of who is recognized when. Find ways to spread the recognition around.

But what are the expectations?

If you don't know, you're not leading the team. You're just hoping thigs go right. And just as you involve students in defining class rules, it makes sense to involve teachers in setting the expectations for themselves and their colleagues.

But what are the rewards?

There's no reason that teacher recognition cannot be redeemed for teacher rewards in just the same way that student recognitions are. 

But is there that much to learn?

Professional feedback is about two things. One is about the learning and practice of critical skills. The other is about relationships. Relationships are important in any organization and they need constant attention.

The ideas an motivations behind PBIS aren't just for students. The whole school can benefit from them.

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Keywords: PBIS


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Can you improve student behavior?

There is often a problem hidden behind a question like, "Can you improve student behavior?" The question seems to imply that it's the student who needs to be "fixed." That's not always the case.

I remember when I was in ninth grade my homeroom teacher was Mr. Posthuma, a first year teacher. The poor guy had absolutely no control in his classroom. I'm sure he must have been miserable throughout the day and must have been reluctant to return each morning. He must have been so disappointed to have spent years preparing to be a teacher, only to find this as his daily experience. Classroom management is often cited as the reason that teachers leave the profession.

But classroom management is a set of skills. Skills that can be learned. And once learned, the newly skilled teacher finds that his students' behavior has improved. So, were the students "fixed" or was it the teacher?

Our Behavior Manager product does a great job of helping make the processes of PBIS and traditional discipline work more easily and smoothly. But we felt there was something missing. Were we doing enough for poor Mr. Posthuma?

We recently added some new capabilities to Behavior Manager for Mr. Posthuma. First, when a teacher creates an office referral, the system now pulls up articles related to the student's behavior problem. If Mr. Posthuma is feeling exasperated or is just looking for some new ideas, he can browse through these articles that are specific to the immediate problem he's facing. It's sometimes called just-in-time training.

Another new capability in Behavior Manager is called Practice Classroom Management Skills. It's a gamelike system that teaches the skills of classroom management. But as any teacher knows, you don't master skills by reading about them. They must be practiced. And that's what Practice Classroom Management Skills does. It provides a way for deliberate practice in these skills with real students in real classrooms.

The system is gamelike in that it introduces skills in small steps and, as each is mastered, moves the teacher ahead in experience and levels. But the deliberate practice is not conducted in a simulation, it's conducted in the teacher's own classroom.

I'll bet Mr. Posthuma would have appreciated it.

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Keywords: PBIS, Behavior Manager, classroom mangement, Practice Classroom Management Skills, deliberate practice


Monday, November 6, 2017

Why do people hate their software? Why do people love their software?

We work with a lot of people who usually have strong opinions about the student information system (SIS) in their school district. The consensus: they hate them.

Why would that opinion be so widespread?

I've got a theory: they hate their SIS because it doesn't work as they expect it should. I think the root cause is that SISes are made mainly to satisfy the requirements for state reporting. They aren't made to make life easier for the user, unless that user would have been the one to do state reporting without an SIS! (Good luck!)

That's exactly the reason why we at Edclick have an opportunity which we serve with Behavior Manager. Dealing with issues of student behavior both through carrots (typified by PBIS techniques) and sticks (traditional consequences for misbehavior) involves a lot more steps than simply reporting student out-of-placement days to the state. And that's what customers like about Behavior Manager...it covers the entire process. It does what they expect it to do.

Is Behavior Manager perfect? Nope! And here's an example. Yesterday I got a call from a school where a teacher had used Behavior Manager to assign a student out-of-school suspension for nine days. And for out-of-placement consequences, Behavior Manager has a mechanism to collect the classroom assignments from the student's teachers that the student should work on during the suspension. Makes sense in the process of a suspension, and it's in Behavior Manager and people like it. So far so good.

But what the call was about was that the system had not emailed the assignments directly to the student and/or her parents. The collected assignments are available to faculty online but the student hadn't been informed. The software didn't work as expected and the teacher was unhappy. And you know what? The teacher was right. Despite the fact that assignments are usually collected for students with IN-school suspension where they are distributed to students by the faculty, sometimes they're collected for students assigned OUT-of-school suspension. Direct delivery to the student and/or parent makes more sense in that case.

They were right, we were wrong, so we fixed it last night. Class assignments can now be emailed to any suspended student with a simple click.

If software doesn't do what the user expects and if you care about making your customers happy, fix it. At least, that's what we do.

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Keywords: PBIS, Behavior Manager, discipline, carrots and sticks, process improvement


Monday, October 2, 2017

Behavior reinforcement: Is it personal?

Two strong principles of PBIS are to provide positive personal feedback for appropriate behavior and to collect data for databased decision-making. Sometimes these two principles are at odds. Recording data must be as unobtrusive as possible. We don't want to take the teacher's attention away from class or seem to diminish her engagement class.

One of the solutions for recording data is to do it all off-line. The teacher counts tick marks or behavior token tickets when the students aren't there. But that takes more time for the teacher. And the more time that's required for collecting data, the less likely it is that the data will be collected. If data collection can be integrated in with the teacher's activity during class, it's much more likely that the data be collected.

To minimize the time requirement for recording positive student behavior, we developed one-click merit points. This allows the teacher to give any of the students in her class a merit point for any of several expectations simply by clicking a box by the students name.

Behavior Manager includes a star chart that can be on display for the class throughout the class period. By viewing the live star chart, students can immediately see that they have been recognized for specific positive behaviors.

Consider an alternative. A teacher could hand a ticket to a student for positive feedback. By walking over to the student's desk and handing him a ticket, possibly along with a word or two of encouragement, the teacher has made a personal contact with that student. The personal contact enhances the positive feedback.

But with the ticket method, there is no record of the positive feedback. To make a record, the students might check in with a teacher at the end of class when the teacher could enter into a spreadsheet the number of tickets that each student received. But it's additional work taking additional time.

Can clicking on a button on a tablet be made personal? Sure. The teacher can do it through eye contact, a smile, a wink, a thumbs up or a positive remark. Or, like a paper ticket method, the teacher can walk over near the student, click the tablet, and pat the student on the back.

Making positive feedback personal is important. But collecting the data is too. Luckily, you can have it both ways.

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Keywords: PBIS, star chart, positive feedback, merit points, Behavior Manager

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