With Thanksgiving approaching, Bailey Middle School eighth-grader William Wolf is counting his blessings, or, to be more precise, his points. This year, Wolf and other Bailey Middle School students are earning points for good behavior - points that can be traded in for rewards through a special on-campus store. Even better, according to Wolf and other students, is how the new program is changing the campus culture and making life - and learning - easier for everyone.
"Basically, to me, the point system is a better way to get your act together, and be able to earn something good for doing right," Wolf said. "It basically motivates you to be good."
Bailey administrators, including new Principal Shundra Brown, decided this summer to implement the nationally recognized Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system, along with the PBIS Rewards program to help staff and students track student progress and rewards.
The PBIS framework is multi-tiered, starting with a foundation of consistent, school-wide expectations for positive behavior. Once the foundational behaviors are taught and expectations are in place, students "caught doing good" receive PBIS points that can later be redeemed for rewards ranging from pizza with friends at lunchtime, to homecoming tickets or a Free Dress Friday pass, or even a positive call home to parents directly from the principal.
"I think it's a powerful tool," said Assistant Superintendent of LIFT 6 Middle Schools Dr. Miguel Perez, "one that's having a tremendous impact on building a positive culture within the school."
Teachers and administrators worked together to lay the groundwork for implementing PBIS at Bailey. When students arrived for the new school year, staff members communicated clear expectations for behavior and discipline. They also worked directly with students to determine what kinds of rewards would be most motivating.
"We try to make sure to get stuff that they're going to enjoy, or that they want, and not base it on what we think they might want," said Bailey's registrar, Jy'Syria Selmon, who developed the school's PBIS handbook and helps run the on-campus store where students can redeem points for favorite snacks.
"This is tangible stuff, but we do get kids who want the phone calls home or who want to do lunch with their friends," Selmon said. "Those are things that they want, that they can look forward to."
The data from the pilot program so far is telling, with disciplinary referrals down significantly. District administrators have been watching the PBIS rollout at Bailey closely, seeing it as a pilot program with the potential to benefit other Spring ISD campuses as well, including schools that are part of the district's Lift 6 middle schooltransformation initiative.
"The middle school years can be very challenging years for our scholars," Perez said. "Something like this helps them stay the course and stay focused on what matters most - getting an education."
Bailey students agreed. Lilly Olivari arrived at the campus this year as an eighth-grader. She had heard stories from friends that made her nervous about coming to such a big middle school like Bailey, but said the PBIS program was making a difference by transforming expectations.
"I think the school is better," Olivari said. "When teachers expect us to be bad, everyone's just going to not try to be good, and just do whatever they want, because that's what the teachers expect of us. But when they expect that we can be good, we're going to try to be good."
SIMS Clerk Kimberly Standley, who together with Selmon runs Bailey's PBIS store, agreed, saying that she loves seeing how excited the students get about earning and redeeming their points.
"I think that it gives them a little incentive to do right," Standley said, "that little extra push they need to make some good decisions."