160 – Positive behaviour for learning

I may have mentioned in a previous post that at school I am part of a group who are involved in the writing and implementation of a Ministry initiative being introduced at our school called PB4L – or Positive Behaviour for Learning. It has been rolled out at a number of schools over the past few years and the schools are reaping the rewards of a more settled cohort, safer and motivating learning environments and fewer serious incidents across the board. We as a whole staff had to agree to sign up for it in order to make sure there was buy-in before we could be approved for the attached funding and support. And because no two schools are the same there is no ‘one size fits all’ program so the first year or two is dedicated to actually collecting data to work with and putting in place the systems and protocols that your individual school need in response to the data.

It is really good stuff. At present I am part of a team who are going to the training days and figuring out how to involve staff in data gathering exercises, isolating areas of concern, deciding on desirable behaviour and what we want the culture of the school to look like. In working out how and when to actively teach the desired behaviours and how to put in place systems that positively reinforce the behaviour we want to see. As opposed to the more ‘traditional’ model of punishing the undesirable behaviours and issuing top-down edicts of behaviour required but with no active modelling or teaching of this expectation. Does that make sense?

In a school as diverse as ours, with a cohort that comes from all walks of life and cultural context, from all socio-economic backgrounds but mostly lower, from homes with a lot of boundaries to homes with almost none and with students who are products of vastly different environments in terms of safe and healthy relationships with adults – we are a school that needs ONE way of doing things and ONE accepted way to be at our school that is understood by everyone – Teachers and students alike.

And it all hangs off this idea that the way to achieve this utopia – this functional, safe learning environment for both students and staff – is to positively reinforce the good stuff and to pre-empt the negative with consistent, school wide conversations and taught behaviour.

We need to ask the staff what an ‘ideal student’ looks like, what an ideal learning environment looks like and what the main barriers are to achieving these ideals in our school. Then we need to show staff what they said to see if we are all on the same page. AND we need to ask students what their ideal teacher looks like. What a safe and engaging learning environment looks like – and what the current barriers to success are for them. We need to collect data to see if it backs up what everyone is saying/feeling. We might be surprised.

We need to look at our schools values and the current systems in place – we don’t want to re-invent the wheel but we might need to streamline it. And it’s a MASSIVE job but our coaches have people guiding them through, and the Ministry has an investment in the success of the program so there are checks and balances to make sure we stay on track and can measure our successes.

Man it feels positive.

So when I was thinking about what I could write tonight – because I didn’t write last night and I am trying to not miss too many nights as the cold winter nights settle in and all I want to do is hibernate…. Can I apply the same theories to my mission to heal my gut? By collecting data and making changes that pre-empt damaging behaviour? By not punishing myself when I make the wrong decisions in a moment of weakness/tiredness/contrariness. By putting systems in place that support the right decisions around food even when I am tired/pre-menstrual or just feeling bloody minded? Probably. Hmmmm.

My brain is full right now though.

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