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PBIS making BKW Elementary a “GRRR”eat place to learn

PBIS kick-off celebration 

PBIS kick-off celebration PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) activities such as mini-lessons and a PBIS pep rally on Sept. 13 helped students learn about the district’s expectations for positive behavior in various school environments.


This fall, elementary school students at BKW have a new way of meeting school expectations for positive behavior.

PBIS, or Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, is a school-wide approach to preventing and responding to school and classroom behavior. PBIS is now being used in BKW at the elementary level, and in hundreds of schools across the country, to help students learn to make consistently healthy choices for themselves in and outside of the classroom.

During the first week of school, students in kindergarten through grade 6 took part in mini-lessons led by BKW’s PBIS team of teachers and support staff. During these sessions, students learned about the district’s expectations for positive behavior in the various school environments: while riding school buses, in the cafeteria, on the playground and building grounds, in hallways and bathrooms and when gathering for assemblies. Classroom teachers are also helping set a tone for their students that will reinforce the PBIS principles of citizenship, respect, responsibility and readiness for learning throughout the school year.

PBIS team members began working over a year ago with trainers in the field of behavior management at Capital Region BOCES to prepare for the launch of PBIS at BKW this fall. Prior to the start of this school year, BKW’s PBIS team worked with the entire elementary school community—teachers, support staff, maintenance, bus drivers and cafeteria staff—to introduce PBIS and bring everyone together in support of this new approach.

“As a school community we were experiencing too many reasons to discipline students, which told us that we needed to try something different to manage behavior and create a school environment that was more positive and conducive to learning for everyone,” explained Lisa Scalzo, BKW school social worker. “PBIS is a very different approach—it sets clear expectations for positive behavior, and helps students understand what these behaviors look like and why they’re important.”

Scalzo explained that a goal of PBIS is to “catch” students acting in positive ways, and recognize and reinforce this type of behavior so it grows. One tool BKW staff is using to recognize positive behaviors—and which is now seen on walls, doors and bulletin boards throughout the school—are paper Bulldog paw prints, which teachers and other staff award to students who’ve acted in one of four ways that demonstrate “GRRR!”: being good citizens, respectful, responsible and/or ready to learn.

Each week, students are recognized for behavior that has helped make the school community a more positive and peaceful place. Students who have gone above and beyond to help make BKW Elementary a more positive place to learn will be recognized at the school’s “Bulldog Morning Show” assemblies. Another new activity that is reinforcing the PBIS principles of positive behavior and readiness for learning are all-school morning meetings led by Elementary Principal Audrey Roettgers. Roettgers said these these gatherings are helping set a positive tone for the entire school day.

Want to learn more about PBIS at BKW? Visit our new PBIS resource page.