The Fletcher Elementary School has earned Exemplar status as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) School. The designation was awarded by the VT-PBIS Team of the Vermont Agency of Education and the UVM Center on Disability and Community Inclusion Collaboration at the annual PBIS Leadership Forum in Killington on October 11. Representatives from the school’s PBIS team accepted the award.
Exemplar designation represents the highest of three tiers of PBIS recognition and affirms the Fletcher School’s unwavering commitment to supporting a positive school climate and the social skills of students, which in turn bolster academic achievements and increase available time for academic learning.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports is an approach to creating proactive, school-wide systems that support students’ behavioral and academic success. It begins with the teaching, modeling, and practicing of school-wide behavior expectations with all students and staff and a formal system of recognition and supports when students meet those expectations. The Fletcher School has created clear and concise behavior expectations for each physical area of the school, on the school buses and for field trips. The school emphasizes respectful, responsible, safe and caring behaviors. Fletcher School is in its fifth full year of implementing PBIS.
These expectations are modeled and taught to students throughout the year. Individual classroom and school-wide successes are recognized and celebrated regularly. The school’s PBIS Team uses data from classroom and office behavior referrals to identify students, location around the school, times of day and other demographics needing additional support. Behavior data is provided to families throughout the year as part of parent conferences.
“We spend time learning what it looks like to be respectful, responsible, safe and caring,” sixth-grader Monica King said. “I like being recognized for my positive behavior. It makes me feel good and it lets me know that the adults care and are watching.”
Students are intermittently recognized when they meet school-wide expectations. The recognition comes in the form of small paper “falcon” tokens, representing the school mascot. The tokens are often customized to a particular theme, like fire safety month or to celebrate an upcoming event at the school. Tokens accumulated in classrooms and other locations around the school result in class and school-wide celebrations.
“Our celebrations are things like hat day or an extra recess,” King said. “We’ve also done face painting and other things. They’re really fun and make us want to follow the expectations even more.”
“Our PBIS system is completely data-driven,” Fletcher’s Instructional Coach, Denette Locke, said. “We track and analyze behavior information such as location, time of day, academic subject, suspected motivation and more to plan the best ways to support our students. When you have specific information about behaviors, you can more successfully target the problem areas with supports that turn behaviors around.”
The school also involves families in the PBIS approach. At last week’s Open House, families were given buttons to wear with the school-wide expectations on them. The school also sends home tokens before school vacations and encourages families to award them at home, keeping up the momentum of positive behavior across settings and when students are away from school.
“Fletcher’s designation as a PBIS Exemplar School reflects a tremendous ongoing effort on the part of the adults and students to create a school community where everyone is valued and respected, and where a positive climate clears the way for academic achievement for all learners,” FWSU Superintendent Ned Kirsch said.
In 2014, the Fletcher School was designated a Vermont PBIS School of Recognition based on its strategic use of data to support student behavior, celebrating school-wide and individual successes and working to support behavioral challenges, as well as noted decrease in behavior issues overall. In the following three years, the school received the PBIS School of Merit designation based on a continuation of that work, as well as receiving exceptional scores on its state-conducted school-wide evaluation of its PBIS implementation. This year’s Exemplar designation recognizes both a continued decrease in rule-breaking behaviors and an increase in academic performance and comes following a rigorous selection process that included documenting both improved behaviors and increased academic achievement.
“Fletcher is a ‘go to’ school for model PBIS practices and implementation fidelity. They are truly an exemplar school, and they should be very proud of the recognition for the work they have done on behalf of their students to ensure safe and responsive learning environments,” FWSU Director of Curriculum Linda Keating said.
More than half of Vermont schools – 160 – implement PBIS. That represents 91 percent of supervisory unions around the state.
Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon