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Feedback for Behavior

Attending to student behavior allows for opportunities to provide feedback to students with the intended purpose of teaching behavior and increasing the likelihood of students demonstrating the expected behavior as well as promoting a positive school climate and culture.


Providing meaningful feedback as a part of school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) involves three components:

  • Monitoring of student behavior.
  • Acknowledgement system.
  • Corrective feedback.

Monitoring of Student Behavior

After school-wide expectations have been identified, defined in each setting, and explicitly taught, school staff must monitor student behavior in order to have opportunities to provide feedback. Monitoring student behavior involves active supervision with basic monitoring practices of movement, scanning, and positive interactions.

Staff are taught to move around in an unpredictable pattern while monitoring students in order to increase the contact with students and to be aware of any problem areas as well as students who may need more support.

Staff are also taught to scan the environment while monitoring student behavior. This includes watching and listening to what is going on in the setting.

Finally, staff are taught to create opportunities for positive interactions with students. This includes making an effort to connect with individual students and groups of students as well as reinforcing appropriate student behavior. The target is for staff to have a minimum ratio of four positive interactions to every one corrective interaction.

Acknowledgment System

Each school develops a specific school-wide acknowledgment system as a means of providing feedback to students on their behavior. An acknowledgment system is created to accomplish the following:

  • Foster a welcoming and positive school climate.
  • Focus staff and student attention on desired behaviors.
  • Increase the likelihood that desired behaviors will occur in the future.
  • Reinforce the teaching of new behaviors.
  • Provide a prompt for staff to recognize appropriate behavior.
  • Reduce the time spent correcting student misbehavior.

The school-wide acknowledgment system typically includes three types of acknowledgments:

  • Immediate, high-frequency predictable acknowledgments.
  • Intermittent, unpredictable acknowledgments.
  • Long-term celebrations.

School leadership teams develop an acknowledgment system that includes all three types of acknowledgments. When developing the acknowledgment system, the school leadership team seeks input and feedback from staff, students, and families to ensure the acknowledgment system is meaningful and authentic. The system should be designed so that all students have access to acknowledgments on a regular basis.

Immediate, High-Frequency Predictable Acknowledgements

Immediate, high-frequency predictable acknowledgements are used to shape and teach new behaviors as well as reinforce the expected behaviors. Many schools will use a ticket system to provide the immediate, high-frequency predictable acknowledgements. These tickets are linked to the school-wide expectations and provide a prompt to the school staff to provide specific feedback on the student’s behavior while providing a visible acknowledgment of the appropriate behavior for students. The use of a ticket system serves as a reminder to staff to provide acknowledgment for student behavior and to reach the goal of a four to one ratio for acknowledgments to corrections for behavior.

Intermittent, Unpredictable Acknowledgments

Intermittent, unpredictable acknowledgments are intended to bring surprise attention to certain behaviors or to be delivered at scheduled intervals. Once behaviors have been learned, we want those behaviors to be maintained. Intermittent, unpredictable acknowledgments can assist in ensuring newly learned behaviors stick. Things like raffles, using the tickets “out of the blue,” special privileges, and random positive calls or post cards from school staff to parents are all ways to use intermittent reinforcement to support the ongoing demonstration of expected behaviors.

Long-term Celebrations

Long-term celebrations are used to acknowledge accomplishments. These can be either specifically for students who have demonstrated expected behaviors or for ALL students and adults to celebrate a school-wide success related to behavior.

Staff Acknowledgment

Equally important in changing the climate and culture of a school is a plan for staff acknowledgment. Staff need feedback as they work to install and implement PBIS. The school leadership team will also create a plan for acknowledging staff behavior.

Corrective Feedback

Behavioral errors will occur. Part of teaching includes providing specific corrective feedback. To provide responses to behavioral errors, schools must have explicit descriptions of not only expected behaviors but also definitions of unwanted behaviors. This provides clarity to both students and staff and is the basis for building a continuum of responses to behavioral errors allowing staff to respond in an objective manner.

To develop the definitions of unwanted behaviors, the school leadership team will need to get input and feedback from school staff, students, and families throughout the development process. A part of this process will include gaining consensus among the staff regarding not only the definition of problem behaviors but also the classification of problem behaviors into three categories:

  • Minor - staff managed.
  • Major - staff managed.
  • Major - office managed.

Once the problem behaviors have been defined in such a way as to reduce ambiguity and classified into the three previously mentioned categories, the school leadership team provides opportunities to review and practice the applications of the definitions and categories to problem situations.

After problem behaviors have been defined and categorized, the next step is to develop a preplanned continuum of responses to the behavioral errors that begins with teaching or re-teaching expectations. The goal of the continuum of responses is to increase the likelihood that staff will be able to correct behavioral errors fluently. The goal is to correct behavior:

  • Immediately.
  • Consistently.
  • In a calm, business-like tone.
  • Briefly.
  • Respectfully.

At the school-wide level, the school leadership team is routinely collecting and reviewing data on discipline referrals in order to engage in proactive and preventative problem solving and action planning. The school leadership team also collects and uses fidelity data to inform their implementation efforts. These data are reviewed at least monthly and should be shared with school staff at least two times a year to provide feedback to the staff regarding implementation efforts and outcomes for students.

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