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Ask the ‘TASC is a PBIS advice column from the RSE-TASC Specialists

Question: How do you get a ticket system to run productively in the cafeteria?

Response 1:

Sara Fienup, 

Behavior Specialist

PBIS is not meant to be in place of “regular” lessons or behavior plans but rather a part of them. First, it’s important to remember that if a student with a disability has a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) as part of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP), then the school must implement and maintain that BIP for that individual student, regardless of the status of their PBIS program. However, we know that when a strong PBIS system is place, fewer students should require BIPs.

We always want to make an effort to “work smarter, not harder”, an approach that Dr. George Sugai, co-director of the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, regularly espouses. In other words, when embarking on PBIS implementation, it’s important to look at other initiatives the school is currently implementing and see if PBIS can be aligned with them or if any should be eliminated. This helps to ensure that the school does not become overloaded with competing initiatives, which can make it impossible to be successful in any of them. Likewise, if your school has multiple initiatives targeting similar goals (e.g., character education and an anti-bullying campaign), it is crucial to align these with each other and with your PBIS program. Rather than adding something new to what staff may perceive as an already burdensome workload, the team will want to consider how PBIS can tie into these initiatives. This may be reflected in the language used in the matrix or PBIS lesson plans to ensure similar vocabulary is applied across initiatives. A guide and accompanying worksheet to help with aligning initiatives can be found here.

PBIS lessons are also meant to be relatively short in duration so that they do not take significant time away from other subject areas, while still recognizing that teaching social skills and appropriate behavior is equally as important as academic skills and deserves time and attention as well. (Remember, if a student can’t sit and appropriately participate in a math lesson, they aren’t going to learn the math concepts, so appropriate behavior is as essential to learning as the subject matter itself). Schools develop their own systems for when and how to teach these lessons. For younger students, they might be a part of “circle time” or there might be a social skills lesson built into the daily schedule. For older students, sometimes lessons are conducted during homeroom, or they are the main focus for all teachers for the first week of school, and then periodically throughout the year, or they are implemented at a set time once per week. The exact organization should be individualized to suit your school schedule and structure – the only requirement is that social and behavioral skills are explicitly taught to students and reviewed on a regular basis.

Response 2:

Fran Fernandez, 

Non District School Improvement Specialist

PBIS is a framework that is developed by multiple stakeholders in a school community. As a result, it becomes a part of the culture of the school and not just something else you do. Ultimately, PBIS is not in place of social-emotional lessons or behavior plans but it incorporates what you are already doing.

How can do this? Check out these three ways…

  1. What do your social-emotional lesson plans focus on? Connect them to the PBIS expectations, and ground them in the importance of students becoming independent & successful, both inside and outside of school.
  2. Connect your PBIS team and other staff/committees to share resources and lesson plans. Your greatest resources are those right next door to your classroom.
  3. Engage all staff in creating and reviewing the school’s matrix.  Ask staff to generate multiple ways to acknowledge positive behavior across all locations.

If you have a question you would like us to answer, please email your question to Dale Langley at with the subject line “Ask the ‘TASC”