Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Provides Clear Expectations and Consistency for Tecumseh Learners

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Provides Clear Expectations and Consistency for Tecumseh Learners

There has been a lot of talk about Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at Tecumseh Public Schools this year, but what exactly does that mean? PBIS is a framework for schools to determine how they want to teach social skills, establish expectations in all areas, prevent problematic behavior and reinforce new skills.

PBIS was developed in the 1980s by researchers at the University of Oregon who wanted to prevent unwanted behaviors and use research-based practices to reach new behaviors. When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was renewed in 1997, Congress established the National Center on PBIS. In 2004, resources were developed to guide people in how to implement PBIS in different settings, such as a school.

TPS uses its Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) program to provide the appropriate academic assistance for all learners. PBIS works hand-in-hand with MTSS, providing socio-emotional support. Tecumseh Public Schools began implementing parts of PBIS during the end of last school year, but this year the district will be using the framework for all learners in second through eighth grades. North and South Early Learning Centers are building their frameworks this year, with plans to implement PBIS for learners in pre-kindergarten through first grade next fall.


Learners in PBIS schools are 32% less likely to receive a discipline referral. 

Michigan's Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative


Compass Learning Center facilitators and administrators met weekly throughout the summer to develop the PBIS framework for grades two through six, a system that uses the acronym SAIL.

SAIL was developed by first determining what key characteristics should be demonstrated by all learners. The team decided that all learners should conduct themselves with Safety, Accountability, Integrity, and Leadership. They then provided a definition of each, along with the expected behaviors for each of the characteristics for for staff, learners and their families. These behaviors are intentionally taught to learners, and consistently applied across all areas of a learner’s day, from the bus to the classroom, hallways, cafeteria and playground. Check out the SAIL Matrix and behaviors for each area.

Lisa Shirk, Student Support Coordinator at Compass was instrumental in developing SAIL.

“Our focus is not to just manage behaviors, but to know where the learners are coming from,” said Shirk. “The mental health piece is so vital to really helping kids solve the underlying problem of the behaviors we see.”

Seventh and eighth grade learners at East and West STEAM Center practice the PBIS framework through ROLL Tribe. The focus areas for these older learners are Responsibility, Ownership, Learning and Leadership and operates similarly to SAIL, but with more age-appropriate language and expectations.

Tecumseh East STEAM Center PBIS Poster

“Our framework is in place to make sure that everyone is on the same page and all the expectations are consistent,” said Melanie Nowak, East STEAM principal. “This is rolling up with the ninth graders this year, and eventually we will have a consistent framework for learners in grades seven through twelve.”

East STEAM learners started their year with a ROLL Tribe unit where they learned what the expectations meant in the various areas of their lives.

“When learners know what their expectations are they are more likely to follow them or meet them, instead of starting with a negative,” explained Nowak. “When we set the expectation of ‘silently reading and reflecting on materials in class,’ instead of saying, “No talking. Don’t this. Don’t do that.” they are more likely to match the positive behavior.”

Recognition of the positive behavior then reinforces that expectation, rather than recognizing the negative behavior with punishments. Both East and West STEAM Centers have implemented Learner Advisory Committees, and learners meet with their principals to determine how to implement the positive reinforcements.

East STEAM’s committee decided to create Honor Tribe. Each month learners from each team are recognized as members of Honor Tribe, based on ROLL Tribe characteristics and academics. In addition, positive behavior tickets are used for a weekly drawing for rewards.

West STEAM’s committee decided to recognize positive behaviors by allowing learners to earn each letter of ROLL. Throughout the school year, learners can be nominated for an “R” for responsibility by peers or facilitators, an “O” for ownership by the custodial, cafeteria and maintenance staff, an “L” for learning based on academic goal setting, and an “L” for leadership based on community service projects. Each month they will be celebrated in their mentor classes if they have earned a letter, with a larger celebration at the end of the year for those who earned ROLL.

While each building has customized PBIS to meet the needs of their learners, the guiding principle behind the framework is that there is a consistent set of positive expectations being taught to the learners, with reinforcement and recognition of positive behaviors.

“PBIS has created a lot of consistency around the building, for our language,” said Deidra Thelen, West STEAM Center principal. “The kids and the facilitators are speaking the same way about what it means to show these different values. We are communicating in the same way, which creates consistency and clear expectations.”

  • Compass
  • East
  • west