How Our School Implemented BehaviorFlip:
Iroquois West High School (IWHS) adopted BehaviorFlip as our PBIS program at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. I had used the program with a middle school in prior years and wanted to bring the program to IWHS. The adoption and set up process was easy as we worked together with the BehaviorFlip team and our IT department to load students into the program. We also added the teachers and assigned a few administrators to help with the set up. As principal, I met with the entire faculty to come up with a list of desired behaviors as well as behaviors that we would prefer not to see in the classroom, at lunch, and in the hallways. Through consensus, the Dean of Students and I assigned points for behaviors and we were ready to roll out the program. For the first pilot period, we just had teachers have access to learn how to use the program and worked on decisions on what qualified as an event versus a referral. As a faculty, we have done a book study on Hacking Student Discipline to encourage and focus on restorative justice for students.
Following the initial rollout with teachers, we then introduced the system to students and families. Our goal was to ensure that students, families, and teachers had access. One of the great features for teachers was the ability to add specific classes. From there, we worked to create a decision tree and incentive program (seen below) focused on the use of BehaviorFlip. Our incentive program has greatly decreased incidents of gross disrespect, cell phone issues, and other negative behaviors. The best part of BehaviorFlip is the transparency and instant communication for all parties involved. The students got really excited to complete stars and earn rewards. We are exceptionally happy with the program and plan to continue using it in future years!
How BehaviorFlip Affected our School Culture:
Prior to implementing the incentive program for BehaviorFlip, I would say that 90-95% of the entries made were negative events. Very few teachers utilized the positive events, and the focus was strictly on negative behavior and events. There was also very little student involvement using BehaviorFlip prior to implementing our incentive program as well. Once we decided, as a staff, what behaviors we wanted to focus on in the second semester and what we would like to see as far as positive behaviors, we then created benchmarks for different star levels. For example, when a student filled one star, they would receive a candy bar. Two-star students would get a gift certificate, all the way up to five-star students receiving a free finals voucher and entered into a raffle for a free iPad. When we came back from Christmas break, we marketed the incentive program through fliers, student emails, and school-wide announcements.
Once students learned of the incentive program, it took off at warp speed. Students became very interested in what star level they were at and making sure they collected their prizes. As I said before, most entries made prior to the incentive program were negative events. Teachers really began focusing on the positive behaviors of students and students were constantly seeing what they could do in order to earn more stars. When I began looking at the data entries for each day, the script had flipped. I would say that 90-95% of the entries being made by teachers were now positive, with very few negative events occurring. I think it has definitely helped shift the focus from negative to positive. I think even with the success of the incentive program, we still ran into kinks that we want to change for the next quarter, as well as the next school year. We didn't expect kids to achieve as many stars as they did so quickly, and we realized that we probably set the point values of the categories too high. Students also did a lot of begging and pleading for stars, which is good that they want to do good things to get the stars, but we also want those actions to be genuine and not just about the reward. Teachers entering entire classes for the same positive event also skewed the amount of stars many of the kids would reach. So based on what we thought went well, coupled with the things we felt needed to change, we made adjustments that we think will help moving into the final quarter of this school year.
Erin Smith is the Principal of Iroquois West High School. Kristy Arie is the Dean of Students of Iroquois West High School.
Iroquois West High School is located in Gilman, Illinois, and is the only high school in the Iroquois West Community Unit School District #10.
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