August 13, 2015

The PBIS behavior matrix is a chart that clearly communicates your school’s expectations for positive behaviors in various school environments. It aides teachers and administrators in teaching, modeling, and reinforcing PBIS in the classroom, hallway, playground, cafeteria, and home.

The purpose of a PBIS behavior matrix is to identify and display positive behaviors that meet behavioral expectations across all school contexts and settings. Usually, a matrix features two axes: Expectations and Contexts. It is a shorthand reference that helps teachers, principals, aides, and parents consistently reinforce a set of key behavioral expectations during students’ daily routines. When it is visibly displayed in the classroom and other settings, it helps to increase students’ understanding of schoolwide expectations, and even offers specific examples of actions students can take to meet these expectations. For example, a PBIS behavior matrix may show that to maintain respect in the cafeteria, students should use inside voices, say please and thank you, and allow anyone to sit beside them.

Choose Expectations For Your PBIS Behavior Matrix

Expectations are the key behaviors that teachers and school administrators would like students to exhibit throughout the day, such as respect, responsibility, cooperation, and safety. The Expectations on a PBIS behavior matrix are not a comprehensive list of all positive behaviors and qualities. They are typically a succint and memorable list of the 3-5 most important qualities you would like to reinforce. For example, Snow Creek Elementary School—home of the Panthers—created an acronym for their PBIS behavior matrix: PAWS stands for Pride, Attitude, Wise Choices, and Safety.

Other examples of positive expectations you can choose from your school-wide PBIS behavior matrix include:

  • Positivity
  • Dependability
  • Preparedness
  • Effort
  • Productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Integrity
  • Kindness
  • Participation
  • Determination

Include expectations of the positive behavior you want students to exhibit in your PBIS behavior matrix.

Take Contexts and Environments into Consideration

Because you want positive behaviors to be exhibited everywhere students go, your PBIS behavior matrix should take each daily school environment and context into consideration. Most commonly, students will spend the majority of their school hours in the classroom, hallways, cafeteria, playground, athletics fields or gymnasium, auditorium, and administrative offices. For each of these areas to remain safe, peaceful, and positive for all students, the expected behaviors must be exhibited in context-specific ways. Preparedness can be demonstrated in the classroom by arriving on time with homework completed, but in physical education it is demonstrated by wearing proper gym attire.

Common locations and contexts schools include in their PBIS behavior matrix include:

  • Classroom
  • Hallway
  • Cafeteria
  • Restroom
  • Lockers
  • Computer Labs
  • Parking Lots
  • Playground
  • Administrative Office
  • Auditorium

List Measurable, Positive Behaviors

A PBIS behavior matrix is not very useful or effective if it does not include guidelines for various locations and contexts. Instead of simply asking students to participate, show them what participation looks like in each environment with clear behavioral instructions they can easily understand.

Each box in your matrix should contain several positively stated descriptions of what each of your behavior expectations looks like within the given context. For example, if you choose Safety as one of the key Expectations in your PBIS behavior matrix, here are some ways you can break that down into positively stated, measurable expectations across contexts:

  • Safety in the Classroom:
    • Use class materials for their stated purpose
    • Keep all four legs of your chair on the floor
    • Keep your desk and floor area clear and organized
  • Safety in the Hallway:
    • Walk on the right side
    • Take stairs one step at a time
    • Keep backpacks and belongings off the floor
  • Safety on the Playground:
    • Stay in supervised areas
    • Walk on the blacktop
    • Use equipment properly

The behaviors stated in the matrix should be measurable, so that students can easily evaluate their own success and adjust. When creating a PBIS behavior matrix for young children, graphics, pictures, and colors can be used to communicate expectations in a visual and captivating way.

Behaviors stated in the PBIS behavior matrix should be measurable, so that students can easily evaluate their own success.

Strategies For Creating Your PBIS Behavior Matrix

One strategy is to go through each environment a student encounters in their daily routine, and envision how you would like students to behave. Look for consistent themes in your behavioral expectations so you can identify the most essential behaviors you want to reinforce. Then ask yourself what students can do, specifically, to accomplish those behavioral expectations in each particular context.

A second strategy is to use previous data you have collected on student behaviors across multiple contexts. Not all schools have recorded data available to analyze. If you don’t, consider starting to collect behavioral data now,  it is extremely helpful in identifying short and long term PBIS goals and strategies for your unique school environment. If you do have data to review and learn from, use it to identify the most common problem behaviors affecting your school.

Beside your list of undesired behaviors, write a contrasting, positive behavior that you would like to replace it with. For example, if an identified problem is that too many students are running in the hallway, a contrasting positive behavior would be for students to always walk on the right hand side. Once you have a list of desired behaviors, look for overriding expectations that each behavior can fall under. Walking on the right hand side of the hallway may fall under Cooperation, along with sharing equipment on the playground and working together to clean up learning stations in the classroom.

How to Implement Your PBIS Behavior Matrix

Once you have created your PBIS behavior matrix, share it widely with all school staff and administration, as well as parents. Post the matrix visibly in your classroom, and even distribute copies to each individual student. You may find it helpful to verbally review the matrix as a class, walk through each environment and demonstrate the behaviors, or even quiz students on expectations. The most important component of PBIS behavior matrix implementation is consistent reinforcement of the expectations from all authority figures a student encounters throughout the day.

Team(You) is an easy-to-use digital incentive program that can be used to motivate positive classroom and school-wide behaviors. Contact Team(You) today to learn how our classroom PBIS software can help you reinforce positive behaviors schoolwide.

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