Focusing on the positive

Focusing on the positive at Mexico Schools
Posted on 09/23/2020
From Mrs. Melissa Chastain, Assistant Superintendent

When I think back to the teachers who made a difference in my life, I realize they were all positive people.  Think about your favorite teachers.  Why do those teachers stand out in your mind?  What did they do that made a difference for you as a student?  Studies show that students who love school have healthy relationships with teachers and, because of that, have a strong sense of belonging.  Educators who focus on the positive are more likely to foster meaningful relationships with students.     

At Mexico Public Schools we understand focusing on the positive fosters better academic and personal outcomes for students.  We use a proactive, consistent approach to school-wide discipline through Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS). PBIS is implemented at Eugene Field Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary, and McMillan Early Learning Center.  The purpose of the PBIS support plan is to create a positive climate of mutual respect, responsibility, academic excellence, and safety within our school community. 
What is PBIS?
PBIS is an approach we use to improve school safety and promote positive behavior. PBIS is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success. The purpose of school-wide PBIS is to establish a climate in which appropriate behavior is the norm. 
PBIS has a few important principles:
*Every child can learn proper behavior.
*Stepping in early can prevent more serious behavior   problems.
*Each child is different, and schools need to provide many kinds of behavior support.
*How schools teach behavior should be based on research and science.
*Following a child’s behavioral progress is important.
*Schools must gather and use data to make decisions about behavior problems.
Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support is a way for schools to encourage good behavior. With PBIS, students learn about behavior, just as they learn other subjects like math or science. The key to PBIS is prevention, not punishment. 
How is PBIS proactive?
PBIS is proactive in that discipline data is used to identify patterns and possible causes of inappropriate behavior. This information is then used by a team of teachers to develop effective interventions to decrease inappropriate behavior and increase desired behavior throughout the building. The use of yearly, monthly, or more frequent data comparisons helps to prevent the same patterns of inappropriate behavior from reoccurring and assist the team in adapting the school-wide PBIS plan.
How is PBIS positive?
The positive refers to a change in focus from reactive (focusing on what students do wrong) to proactive (teaching and recognizing what students do right). It refers to an overall change in the school climate to a learning environment where students and teachers feel appreciated, safe, and respected. 
Although we focus on the positive, PBIS does not ignore inappropriate behavior. Consequences are more than “punishment” and serve to either increase or decrease inappropriate behavior. PBIS views appropriate consequences as those that are effective in changing the student’s inappropriate behavior. 
Why is it important to focus on teaching positive social behaviors?
In past years, schoolwide discipline has focused mainly on reacting to specific student misbehavior by implementing punishment-based strategies.  Research has shown that the implementation of punishment, when used inconsistently and without positive strategies, is ineffective.  Introducing, modeling, and reinforcing positive social behavior is an important step of a student’s educational experience. Teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is a much more positive approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur before responding. According to several studies, PBIS leads to better student behavior. 
Thank you for supporting the staff at Mexico Public Schools as we strive to make a positive impact on our students.  This year we will continue to focus on the positive in order to build strong school communities that respect students and teachers alike.