April 19, 2015: More than 1400 educators in 22 public schools across the island have received training in the use of Positive Behaviour Intervention System as a means of resocialising students who display anti-social behaviour.
The Positive Behaviour Intervention System or PBIS is one of several approches being employed by the Ministry of Education to address the incidence of negative behaviour of children in schools. These challenges have continued to disrupt the normal flow of learning and in most cases are affecting the general quality of education that is being provided for students.
At a recent (April 17) workshop held at the Jamaica Theological Seminary in Kingston, several participants welcomed the exposure to PBIS. Among them was Grace-Ann Thomas-Serinash, a teacher at the Tacius Golding High School in St. Catherine. She said although having some initial reservations about the effectiveness of the PBIS as a corrective measure, the school has now embraced it and has begun to sensitise the students about its objectives.
These include a reduction in the use of reactive disciplinary measures such as detention, suspension and expulsion; and the implementation of effective intervention strategies for students with emotional and behavioural problems to support their academic and social functioning and evaluate their success across various settings such as school, home and community.
The PBIS programme will be intensified during the 2015-2016 academic year, targeting an additional 25 schools and 1800 members of staff. It is expected that at the end of three years a significant number of children will emerge from this transforming programme.
Another participant at the recent workshop, Sonia Woodstock-Brown, senior teacher at the Aabuthnott Gallimore High School in St. Ann, said the PBIS programme had given teachers an alternative to dealing with maladaptive behavior in such a way that punishment does not come off as abusive. She added that it was important to show students that there was an option and that they can behave in a socially accepted manner.
Yasheika Samuda, teacher at the Vere Technical High School said the workshop taught her, among other things, that teachers needed to be more proactive than reactive with the students. She was now more comfortable with PBIS approach and had a better understanding of how it should be implemented.
Duane Hartley, dean of discipline at the Port Antonio High School, said the workshop presented a more wholesome approach to how schools should discipline their students. “The entire school family should play an active role in developing and re-enforcing the morals of its students,” Hartley said.
Meanwhile Lisa Douglas, teacher at the Kemps Hill High School in Clarendon, said teachers and administrators were enthusiastic to get the PBIS programme fully off the ground. “We need it at our school because we really need to change the culture of our students. We have cemented the implementation plan and we now know how to go forward”, she stated.