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PBIS at Copperview

Solving the Behavior Puzzle

At Copperview, we have done a lot of neat things to help our students improve their behavior. When I started at Copperview, people that worked there told me that there would be lines of kids at the principal's office every day after lunch. For the first year, my days pretty much consisted of dealing with behavior issues nearly all day. I was drowning. And it was not very motivating to only be dealing with the difficult students, with no end in sight.

When we looked at the data, and saw that over 400 students received Office Discipline Referrals (ODRs) we knew we had to make some major changes. We did a lot. PBIS Initiatives at Copperview is just a brief overview of all that we did, but each little thing we did added up. Our ODRs were down the second year to about 270. We are on track to have less than 200 for the 2013-2014 school year. In just two years (if all goes well), we will have cut the number of ODRs in half! That is amazing, especially considering how many we started with in 2011-2012!

If you assume that each incident requires approximately 30 minutes of my time to deal with, and that kids are probably out of class for 30 minutes if they are involved in a situation, you will quickly see that more than 200 hours of my time and more than 200 hours of instructional time for those students are lost. That is a lot. You can teach kids a lot in 200 hours.

This graphic below shows the reduction in ODRs as of January in each year.

!ODRs over three years

Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Responsible.

We simplified our school rules to just three that all students (Kindergarten through 6th grade) could understand. These simple rules are the basis for every conversation we have. When students make mistakes, we ask them if their behavior was safe, kind, or responsible. We then ask them what behavior would be safe, kind, or responsible.


Our first step was to create a matrix of behaviors in specific areas. As a school, we identified every area of the school where the students would be expected to act a certain way. Here's our matrix. It is blank, so you can see what needs to be filled in. Here is one that is filled out (Excel file). You'll notice that we added expected adult behavior to the list in the third year. We didn't start there. We started with a blank page, and invited our teachers to be part of completing that process.


Our district was in the process of creating a partnership with Playworks. Playworks is all about teaching kids how to play on the playground in an appropriate way and resolve conflict in manageable (and nonviolent) way. Playworks has been instrumental in creating an atmosphere of positive and healthy play. Before we had Playworks, we implemented Peaceful Playgrounds which is similar in idea, but different in implementation to Playworks.

PBIS Coach

We moved a master teacher from her position in the classroom to be our positive behavior coach. She immediately started working with teachers to implement positive behavior and interventions in their classrooms at a Tier 1 Level. She also started teaching a CHAMPS course which taught our teachers how to have a positive tier 1 classroom environment. She also teaches students about character traits we want them to develop monthly in each class.

PBIS Screen

We take pictures of our kids making good choices and display them on a TV that is mounted in our office. Very simple, but a great motivation to get kids to show appropriate behavior when they know a camera could take a picture, and they could get it on the screen.


We offer various rewards: cougar coins, cougar cash, tokens, cougar tracks, and other rewards and incentives in each individual classroom. These are used to remind students of the right choice to make. While rewards are nice, we really want to teach children how to make good choices that help them be the best they can be.

Kids Out of Class

We have greatly reduced the time kids are out of class when they have made a bad choice. We deal with situations as they arise, but if it is not an emergency, we try to deal with the situations in times that are not impacting instruction as much (PE, library, computers, lunches, recesses, transition times, etc.) My interview process has shortened significantly, and I have improved the kinds of questions I ask. Kids are more consistently taking responsibility for their actions, which leads to a quicker phone call to parents, and less time spent out of class. I'd estimate my time on each incident at closer to 10-15 minutes per person than the 30 originally spent. Of course, there are exceptions to that. I'll have to write another post about that interview process at another time.

Timeline - What did we do when?


  • Start work on Matrix
  • Cougar cash and cougar coins
  • Started PBIS philosophy
  • Peaceful Playgrounds


  • Taught expectations to students in each location at beginning of school year and after winter break
  • Playworks
  • Created and hung posters explaining how to behave in every location
  • PBIS Coach
  • CHAMPS implementation
  • Refined cougar cash and coins
  • Proactive plans for frequent fliers
  • PBIS Screen


  • Taught expectations to students in each location at beginning of school year and after winter and spring breaks
  • Playworks and character education class (game) time
  • Token Tower
  • Student of the Month based on character traits taught by PBIS Coach
  • CHAMPS implementation, year 2
  • Cougar Tracks

I am sure there is more, and I will update this post as I remember the things we have done.