As we enter the fifth week of school, I am beginning to see all of the work we have been doing to establish a positive and predictable school environment begin to take shape. I notice students consistently demonstrating our school-wide expectations, staff members frequently using positive and specific language with students, and a variety of community building activities that foster relationships.


Building a positive learning community is an incredibly purposeful process.  At the Franklin West Supervisory Union, our schools use Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS) and Responsive Classroom (RC) practices to guide and support this important work.

No student comes to school intent on making inappropriate choices.  Our children come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We know that the ability to make positive behavior choices is key to being successful at school.  The foundation of both Responsive Classroom and PBIS stress the belief that positive behavior can and must be taught.


At BFA Fairfax we have found that together RC and PBIS practices have enhanced our ability to implement consistent expectations and support the development of community within all of our classrooms.  For me, PBIS provides the foundation and structures that make our school solid.  While RC provides the comfortable furniture, personalized decor, and warmth that makes our school a home.


There is nothing easy about implementing and maintaining our fidelity to these structures.  It requires shared leadership, ongoing training, examining data, and a collective commitment to our work.

Our staff is courageous and dedicated and I appreciate their ongoing efforts to make every student successful.  We believe that through establishing a strong sense of community and belonging, as well as developing common expectations and routines, we will support our students in academic engagement and the development of prosocial skills.  These traits will serve to decrease behavior issues and allow students to be successful in all areas of their lives.  I encourage you to explore both RC and PBIS practices as you work to support your students and staff.




Thomas Walsh is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @educatamount

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