As the song “Celebrate” pulsates in the gymnasium, Bush Elementary School Principal Dan Bracey “high-fives” students’ hands on their way into their weekly pep rally. Once inside, students recited the Bush School Pledge: “I am respectful. I am responsible. I am peaceful.”
“Good morning students! Last week we talked about classroom rules. This week I want third graders to come up and tell me different rules for hallways and the cafeteria,” said Mr. Bracey.
Suggestions like, “Don’t run in the hallway,” “Be quiet when the lights are off,” and “Listen to your teacher or other adults” were some of the suggestions. Each student who gave a suggestion received a Twistin’ Good ticket. Mr. Bracey then announced the gold, silver and bronze classrooms at each grade level for the school’s “Twistin’ Caught Being Good” Program. The winners were met with loud cheers from the entire school.
“It’s so exciting when you get a Twistin’ Good ticket because you can go home and tell your parents,” said first grader Anne Conroe. “It makes me feel proud to do something good.”
The school-wide program is part of Positive Behavior, Interventions & Supports (PBIS), which every Jamestown elementary school is implementing this school year. PBIS is not a set curriculum, each school determines its own program, but a decision-making framework that guides selection, integration and implementation of the best evidence-based academic and behavioral practices for improving important academic and behavior outcomes for all students.
Bush School is in the all-school, or universal phase, of PBIS that stresses preventative measures, frequent assessments to make sure it’s working and evidence-based practices. Their committee, which includes staff and parents, developed the Twistin Good Program, which includes the Twistin’ Good tickets that can be given to any student who is caught doing something good like standing quietly in line, Twister Team Tickets given out when an entire class is good and Positive Behavior Gold Certificates for special deeds that go beyond expectations such as showing kindness, setting a good example and improving in their school work. Each ticket is worth points and the totals are announced at the weekly pep rallies. There are no “prizes.” The prize is the satisfaction of being noticed doing the right thing.
Much planning and though went behind Bush’s program. There are specific procedures when tickets are handed out; how often, how many and where. The committee developed lesson plans that each teacher uses in conjunction with the program including Hallway, Restroom, Auditorium, Cafeteria, and Bus lesson plans. In each, the Twister Pledge is emphasized with, for example, in the Bus Lesson Plan “We are Peaceful” equates to “Keep your hands and feet to yourself and remain seated.” Teachers discuss and model positive behavior like waiting quietly in bus line in the designated area and they also discuss and model negative behaviors.
“PBIS is a proactive and preventative approach to a school-wide change,” said Mr. Bracey. “Eighty to 90 percent of the students will always do the right thing. Another 10 percent will do the right thing most of the time while the remaining might need intervention for their behavior. By implementing the Twistin’ Good Program we are positively and proactively rewarding good behavior. There are many students who everyday do the right thing and sometimes get lost in the shuffle. We want to show those students that we appreciate and see that they are doing the right thing. We are also establishing a common language in our building regarding how students should behave and reinforcing that with positive outcomes, in our case the Twistin Good slips. It’s been overwhelming positive. The students and staff love it.”