- One Team, Separate Experiences - July 5, 2022
- What Recent SCOTUS Decisions Mean for Education - June 28, 2022
- Which is More Important, Equity or Winning? - June 28, 2022
- Suddenly Teammates After a Decade of Division - June 21, 2022
- Can Sports Heal a Segregated School? - June 14, 2022
- I Left Teaching for a New Career. Here's Why I'm Still Mourning. - March 31, 2022
- You Don't Hate Teaching, You Hate the System - March 15, 2022
- The Dismantling of Public Education Part 4: Regression - March 4, 2022
- Teachers Who Teach in Schools in Lower-Income Communities Don't Get the Respect They Deserve - February 28, 2022
- The Dismantling of Public Education Part 3: Privatization - February 25, 2022
One of the most maddening parts about being in education is watching programs and systems be implemented in different school environments with absolute fidelity. Countless schools have attempted to and failed to bring PBIS, Restorative Justice, AVID, and even different LMS to their campus in an effective manner. While looking for the easy way out of particular problems, many schools fail to realize the truth about education: one size does not fit all.
Normally, staying faithful to the original program goals is what we want to strive for in implementation. This idea can, unfortunately, become the fixation of school leaders, who push for a strict version of new programs at their schools. However, we can tailor programs to our school environments without ignoring the original program goals - and doing so should be viewed as best practice. The biggest issue with the way many programs are applied to different schools is that teachers are ultimately the ones shouldering the burden of high expectations, pushback from students, and lack of support.PBIS, Restorative Justice, AVID: One Size Does Not Fit All Click To Tweet
A program like PBIS can be as successful in a rural school that struggles with classroom behavior as an urban school with completely different demographics but widespread classroom management issues. The difference is making the program work for the specific school and providing the necessary supports. When these programs fail because of poor implementation, schools experience more instability as they fall victim to trying out new trends every 2-3 years, rather than perfecting what they already have.
Unfortunately, many of these programs are viewed by districts and school leaders as a miracle or quick fix to problems. Rather than digging deep into where issues (such as classroom behavior) stem from, education often falls victim to buying the biggest and fastest bandaid and expecting the solution to run itself without intervention or support. I have seen countless schools throw the newest education solution trend at their campus, and just hope for the best. They are wrong to assume that implementation is a static or one-time action. Implementation is an ongoing process that requires leaders and teachers alike to reflect, adjust, and remain flexible to reach the right balance for their own school.
One of the best examples is PBIS. Many urban, alternative, and underserved community school systems turn to the program as a way to establish campus expectations and hopefully improve behavior. However, the program is often disliked by the teachers having to carry it out. This often happens at schools that have simply taken an example of how another school uses the program and replicated it.
But there is no school like your school: you will have different demographics, parental involvement, and students will be intrigued by different rewards systems.
For example, my alternative school uses PBIS and has for years. The way behavior has been tracked has evolved over time to best serve our campus. The currency and reward system has seen different options added and removed as our student population has ebbed and flowed. As a school that requires students to wear uniforms, we have found that making our highest tier reward (one that requires a minimum grade average and good behavior) one in which students can dress out of uniform for multiple days to be extremely attractive to our students. Additionally, it is something students see others have earned, which further encourages them to check their behavior and classroom effort in order to meet the reward requirements.
The same can be said for other programs that are often implemented incorrectly. One program that is often complained about is Restorative Justice, for these same reasons. Teachers need the autonomy to adjust programs as needed. What I often identify as the main issue of this one size fits all approach - is that ultimately the school is expecting the new program to run itself, which puts an undue burden on its teachers. While teachers are a critical piece of the puzzle, administrators and leaders need to take a decisive role in fixing behavior and academic concerns on their campuses. Doing so requires everyone to come together and adapt the program to work for their kids, only then will there be a positive change.