Have you heard teachers or staff refer to PBIS? PBIS stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. It’s an evidence-based three-tiered framework we use to establish our school culture and support each other in becoming the best version of ourselves. It works by gathering data and using that information to improve our systems and practices.
Who Participates in PBIS?
PBIS is for everyone, not just students! We established a Tier 1 PBIS team of six staff members with different roles on campus. This team just completed the first year of Tier 1 training which focused on developing the systems we will need to launch PBIS with consistency and fidelity next year. Many of the components of PBIS are already implemented at AACA. However, the team is excited about launching PBIS with renewed enthusiasm in the fall.
Why Are Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Important?
Positive interventions and supports are essential because they create an environment that fosters growth, learning, and progress. When we encourage people to focus on their strengths and accomplishments rather than their weaknesses, we empower them to reach their full potential and improve their self-confidence. Positive interventions have a ripple effect on improving social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes for all students.
How Is PBIS Implemented at AACA?
At AACA, our behavior expectations are based on five character traits; Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring. We have defined what it is to be “TeRRiFiC” across all school settings and contexts.
Our goal is to prevent behavior problems rather than react to them. Expectations need to be explicitly taught, modeled, practiced, and reinforced. That means all adults must be familiar with and model the behaviors we want to see in students. All staff uses the same lesson plans to teach behavior in the hallways, playground, quad, etc., not just in the classroom. Expectations are taught creatively using videos of staff doing the wrong thing, then the right thing.
While there is a heavy emphasis on behavior expectations at the beginning of the school year, we regularly re-teach throughout the year, especially when returning from extended breaks. This is important for any students who arrive later in the school year and serves as a reminder for those who may have forgotten.
Reinforcements range from simple, non-specific feedback like a high-five or thumbs up to behavior-specific feedback to tangible rewards. Research indicates that you can improve behavior by 80% just by pointing out what someone is doing correctly. Simply telling a child “No!” doesn’t teach them proper behavior. Giving someone clear expectations in a firm, fair, and friendly way makes a big difference in how they receive and respond. It helps us shift from being reactive to being proactive.
PBIS is a tiered model of support. Most of our students and staff respond well to the Tier 1 efforts we have described in this post. Some need additional Tier 2 support, and a few need more intensive Tier 3 support. Tier 2 and 3 interventions are evidence-based, positive, and restorative. There are many steps to integrate this process entirely, and we are working with the County Office of Education to ensure that we meet each step
How Can Families Support This Effort at Home?
Look for our PBIS launch party (aka Meet-the-Teacher Night) at the beginning of the school year! We plan to teach families about this process, what it looks like, and how they can implement it at home. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider.
Work as a family to define what Trustworthy, Respectful, Responsible, Fair, and Caring look like in your family. Be specific about your common places and activities; the dinner table, the car, public places, chores, AM and PM routines, etc.
Remember, relationships thrive with a 5:1 positivity ratio!
Specific positive feedback does wonders. Recognize the behavior explicitly and connect it to the expectations. “Fred, you brushed your teeth without any reminders tonight. Good job being responsible.” or “It felt great not to be rushed this morning. Thank you for being ready on time.”
It takes a village to raise kids; we will be most successful when we work together to grow great kids!
Connie Pillsbury is an independent opinion columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While parents and local school boards bicker over curriculum, masks, and mandates, a quiet and profound educational pivot is occurring behind the scenes in San Luis Obispo County. “Necessity is the mother of invention” applies here, as exponential numbers of parents are generating new and novel educational programs outside of the public school system.
Just a few of the expanding options on the leading edge of this shift are the county-wide Heartland Charter School, Almond Acres Charter Academy in Paso Robles, Learn Academy in Atascadero, Christ Classical School, and SLO Classical School in San Luis Obispo.
Heartland Charter School is a tuition-free, public independent study charter school serving kindergarten through 12th grade in nine California counties. The Heartland community is composed of homeschooling families under the guidance and direction of credentialed Heartland teachers. Its unique educational funds make it a popular choice for local parents. Each student has funds which can be applied to various local approved ‘vendors’ in the areas of fine arts, music, educational and physical activities. There are over twenty vendors just in North County, including horseback, swim, martial arts, and dance lessons along with sewing, piano, art, guitar, and tutoring.
In Paso Robles, the brand new and beautiful Almond Acres Charter School, made possible through the vision and support of its founders and local parents and donors, is open on Niblick Lane for full classroom learning for K-8 students. Focused on complementary academic instruction across all grade levels, math, science and technology focus, leadership, and fine arts, Almond Acres’s goal is to “incite a passion and desire to learn.”
Almond Acres Charter Academy opens for classes Monday at its new campus on Niblick Road. The City of Paso Robles gave the charter school permission Thursday afternoon to occupy its new building.
Almond Acres students will attend one week of school at the new campus, then go on Christmas break. They will return in early January to their new building near the intersection of Niblick and Creston Roads.
Constructions crews have worked all year to prepare the buildings for occupation and instruction. Principal Bob Bourgault hoped to get the school open in the fall, but work continued into early December. Bourgault says the floor is not complete in the gym. They hope to finish the gym by mid-January.
The $15 million dollar Almond Acres Charter Academy campus will accommodate 450 students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. Previously, the school was located at Lillian Larsen Elementary School in San Miguel. So far this academic year, the students attended classes at Centennial Community Center and Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation.
Staff and teachers assembled desks and other equipment in the new building this past week to prepare for opening day on Monday.
Bougault says, “We’re thrilled to finally move into our own campus. After weeks of waiting for completion, we have nearly reached our goal. It’s very exciting.”
Local businesses, families, teachers, staff, and individuals worked together to raise over $23,000 for Almond Acres Charter Academy by hosting their, Wild, Wild West Drive-Through BBQ and Online Auction. The school, which will be breaking ground this fall for their new school facility in Paso Robles, will use the funds to benefit their Project Based Learning, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), and Athletics programs.
“We typically host an annual in-person auction, but due to COVID, we decided to switch gears and hold a smaller-scale fundraiser that was safe for everyone to participate,” said event coordinator, Jenn Phillips. “What we didn’t expect was the generosity of local businesses. We know this has been an incredibly difficult year for businesses, and we feel so honored that they wanted to support the students at Almond Acres in whatever capacity they could.”
The main sponsor for the event that took place on Oct. 3, was Roots on Railroad, an eatery that opened on 13th Street and Railroad earlier this year. Other top-level sponsors included The Backyard on Thirteenth, Engineered Power Solutions, G & H Autobody, The Partridge Family Olive Company, Mechanics Bank, and Tractor Supply Company, who hosted the event in their parking lot.
Following the great success Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) experienced with its recent distance learning program, the school is excited to announce that it will be enrolling students in a new At Home Academy program beginning in the Fall of 2020. Being a small school allows AACA to respond to changes in the needs of their families with swiftness and AACA’s distance learning program demonstrated a strength in designing education that truly is outside the box of traditional school programs.
AACA has been providing a site based instructional program since the school began in 2012. When COVID-19 forced districts across the state to close their doors and transition to a distance learning model, AACA recognized an opportunity to expand its program offerings. When survey results reported 95% of families felt the distance learning program exceeded or greatly exceeded expectations, the AACA team felt confident in once again implementing a programmatic change.
During the distance learning program, parents were surveyed several times to gauge their feelings on the possibility of a at home option moving forward. Multiple families reported they were interested in exploring an at home option and their reasons were varied. Some expressed a long term desire to do distance learning but they were reluctant to forego the school culture and climate offered at AACA. Other families shared concerns about possible restrictions in the form of health and safety guidelines that may be in place when schools reopen. The administration examined multiple options for an at home program and created the Almond Acres At Home Academy.
The AACA At Home program will consist of instruction happening in the home while families maintain the close family/school connection that is special to AACA. Parents will be provided with comprehensive curriculum guides, training opportunities, and regular school collaboration to provide the primary instruction. Parents will also have the opportunity to participate in the Program Site Council (AACA’s equivalent to a PTO/PTA) and attend AACA’s Growing Great Kids webinars where they will learn strategies to assist with a variety of parenting scenarios.
Students in the At Home Academy will not only be using the same curriculum as their peers in the traditional model, they will also be given self directed versions of the various Service and Project Based Learning units that are a core component to AACA’s academic program. Additionally, students will be encouraged to participate in the many field trips and guest speaker presentations connected to those units.
All of the school-wide activities offered at AACA will include the families enrolled in the At Home program. Some of these include annual events such as Maker Faire, musical theatre production, 8th grade promotion, Kinder Celebration, Read Run Relay, and talent show. The families will also access a daily virtual Shared Start assembly where they will receive instruction on the Habits of Mind, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the positive behavior expectations that grow citizenship traits in all AACA students. Families will also be encouraged to attend the new Friday celebration events (awards assemblies, positive behavior reinforcer events, etc) being held twice monthly. AACA has successfully held several of these events virtually during distance learning and will continue to do so if required by safety guidelines.
In addition to these program components, families would be encouraged to participate in outside of school events. AACA hosts a Meet the Teacher Picnic before school starts and the At Home families will be introduced to the various grade level teachers, support staff, as well other AACA families. Back to School Night, Open House, and the annual Art Show will also include these families and showcase student work completed as part of the At Home Academy curriculum.
“As a small charter school, we have the ability to quickly respond and affect change. This At Home Academy will allow families to be part of our school, implement the framework and philosophy, receive guidance from staff, and still have flexibility based on their individual needs. We are able to use much of what we created and implemented during distance learning to then create this additional option.” stated Amy Baker, Program Director.
Almond Acres Charter Academy is designing this At Home program to meet the needs of its current families and any future families. If anyone is interested in exploring the At Home program now available through AACA, information can be obtained by emailing email@example.com. Since AACA is a charter school, and therefore a school of choice, no interdistrict transfer is required to enroll.