Active Adult Supervision and Corrective Feedback

Clearly, the classroom teacher plays a critical role in organizing classroom time and space and in teaching and reinforcing expected behaviors. However, the teacher also actively supervises and provides redirection and corrective feedback to students who may not be exhibiting the expected behaviors. In order to effectively do so, the teacher needs to hone the ability to be aware of what is happening in all parts of the classroom by moving around and visually and auditorily scanning frequently and systematically. This ability, coined as “withitness” by Kounin (1977), enables the teacher to notice students’ nonverbal and verbal reactions. It also allows them to see if students are maintaining interest and involvement in the class’s activity, and identify if one or more need assistance, reminders, or encouragement to continue. Moreover, the teacher is able to respond quickly to unexpected events. Whenever a teacher does need to redirect or correct a student, it is important for the teacher to provide positive reinforcement as soon as the same student follows the direction or rules. For example, if a student is redirected for calling out instead of raising her hand, the teacher will want to be sure to call on her as soon as she does raise her hand without calling out.

A classroom teacher can use a variety of strategies to respond to minor disruptive problem behaviors that may be expected and occur on a regular basis, such as minor rule infractions or disruptions and off-task behaviors (e.g., whispering, calling out, passing notes, doing other work, etc.). Larrivee (2009) referred to these strategies as “surface management techniques” that serve to redirect a student’s behavior before escalation and in the moment without interrupting the flow of instruction. These techniques may include, but are not limited to, the following: a) planned ignoring—do not respond to certain behaviors, particularly if the behavior is not likely to escalate or spread to other students and is attempting to get attention from the teacher and/or peers; b) signal interference—use a non-verbal cue, such as clearing one’s throat, making eye-contact, or using a hand gesture, to redirect the student and communicate expected behavior; c) proximity control—stand near the student who is exhibiting the problem behavior to help student control impulses; d) interest boosting—when a student is showing signs of boredom, disinterest, or restlessness, engage in a conversation about a topic of interest to the student or display interest in the student’s work; e) use of humor—make a funny comment to ease a tense situation and make students feel comfortable, but be sure it is not perceived that the student is the focus of the comment; f) hurdle help—assist a student who may be overwhelmed, frustrated by, and/ or unmotivated to help them get started on a task (i.e., remove the hurdle); g) removal of distracting object—politely ask the student to put away a distracting object (e.g., small toy, cell phone); and h) antiseptic bouncing—find a way to have the student go to another setting (e.g., deliver a message to another classroom or the office; take the lunch count to the cafeteria) for a short time to give the student time to regroup, but not to be seen as a punishment.

Planning and Implementing High-Quality Instruction

Another essential part of classroom PBIS is the use of effective, high-quality instructional practices that create varied, motivating contexts and maximize the active engagement of all learners (Scheuermann & Hall, 2016). When developing units and lesson plans for literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, the arts, or physical education, teachers will want to ensure that all students have ways to access the curricular materials, to engage with the materials and information, and to show what they have learned. These instructional practices may include providing individualized accommodations or modifications to learning materials, environment, and/or expectations based on the needs of students and possible barriers that might exist. The particular interests, motivations, and cultural backgrounds and experiences of the students in the classroom should also be taken into consideration. In short, teachers should follow the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to ensure that all students have access to learning content and instruction (see Chapter 9 for further discussion of UDL).

Box 2.2 Common Core: Linking PBIS to Academic Common Core Standards

At times, teachers may feel that they are too occupied with teaching their students the Common Core English language arts (ELA)/literacy and mathematics curriculum to focus on teaching social-emotional skills and other prosocial behaviors. However, these skills are often essential for students to engage in academic work and, thereby, reach the high expectations of the Common Core standards. For example, a number of social, emotional, and behavioral skills can be seen in ELA Standards for Speaking and Listening (SL) across the elementary school grades. The Kindergarten ELA Standard for SL includes the following expected social behaviors for students: “participate in collaborative conversations with [a] diverse partner,” “follow agreed-upon rules for discussions,” and "listening to others and taking turns speaking.” In the Grade 5 ELA Standard for SL, students are expected to “engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions,” “come to discussions prepared,” “follow agreed- upon rules for discussion and carry out assigned roles,” and “pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.” Therefore, teachers need to be prepared to teach and reinforce these behavioral skills along with the academic content and curriculum since students may lack these appropriate behaviors or inconsistently display the behaviors. The school- and class-wide behavioral expectations that are established, taught, and reinforced through SWPBIS include self-management and -regulation skills and resilience which in turn support students in accessing academic content and engaging in productive academic work to meet Common Core State Standards. In short, positive behavioral support in schools and classrooms is not implemented independently of academic instruction.

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