TFI feature 1.9 defines feedback and acknowledgement as a formal system that is in place and used by at least 90% of a sample of staff and received by at least 50% of a sample of students. This written set of procedures for specific behavior feedback should be: [a] linked to school-wide expectations and [b] used across settings and within classrooms. In this week’s segment we will offer five helpful practices to support teams to develop effective feedback and acknowledgement systems.
- Include student voice and choice
As teams work to develop formal acknowledgement systems, considering the cultural and developmental needs of their students is critical to its success. For example, the Center on PBIS brief High School Acknowledgement Systems (Flannery et al., 2020) shares that high school systems would likely differ in the types of incentives or reinforcements offered when compared to elementary schools. Student agency, when deciding how students will be acknowledged, the types of reinforcements offered, and the planning of school-wide events, ensures interest and buy-in. Similarly, involving students as part of the acknowledgement process is also a way to reinforce behavioral expectations across settings and contexts. Students writing positive office referrals for staff or peer shout outs, such as those seen in these 1-minute elementary and secondary videos, are just a few ways to embed student voice in the acknowledgement system.
- Acknowledge staff as part of the system
Considering staff as part of the acknowledgement system is critical in building a positive school climate. Simple appreciation and planning that includes recognizing staff for their efforts can go a long way. Embedding structures that include staff also helps increase teacher buy-in and leads to more effective implementation. Staff acknowledgement systems do not need to be costly or elaborate and should ideally align with the types of feedback and acknowledgement systems created for students. Here are a few ideas for teams to consider when planning to include staff in school wide acknowledgement systems.
- Create written procedures
Once acknowledgement systems have been developed and agreed upon by multiple stakeholders, the formal process should be written down in a way that is clear and explicit. One potential approach is to create a school-wide acknowledgement matrix that outlines the type of acknowledgements, as well as describes the critical implementation features (who, what, when, where, how). Here are some examples of how this might look at both the elementary and secondary level.
- Develop structures that support staff implementation
When developing an acknowledgement system, it is necessary for school staff to spend time reviewing how the system will be implemented with fidelity in their building. Ensuring that there is a clear understanding of what the expected behaviors look like across multiple settings, how and when they will be reinforced by all staff, as well as what the procedures to teach the expectations will be, is an important part of this process. Providing staff with sample lesson plans, a schedule or calendar for when these will be taught and retaught, as well as sharing the TFI Walkthrough tool are helpful strategies to ensure there is a consistent approach and a routine monitoring process in place.
- Collect data and monitor progress
A critical form of feedback is behavior-specific praise, a high-leverage practice. Acknowledging what students are doing right and describing behavior in a way that clearly establishes what is expected is a quick and simple way to mitigate disruptions to instruction. Sincere statements, such as, “ I love the way you are listening right now, Justin”, or “Thank you, Maya, for following directions the first time asked”, reinforce the behaviors that are part of the school’s behavior expectations and consequently influence the behaviors of others seeking similar acknowledgement. Consider collecting baseline data on how often it is used throughout the day, as well as who is being routinely acknowledged. Additionally, monitor the use of behavior-specific praise to reinforce school wide expectations and what that looks like across grade levels, gender, and demographic groups. Here is a helpful resource, Cool Tool, to collect data and monitor progress for this practice.
Edutopia. (2017).60-Second Strategy: Shout Outs. Retrieved December 14, 2023, from https://www.edutopia.org/video/60-second-strategy-shout-outs/
Edutopia. (2018).60-Second Strategy: Appreciation, Apology, Aha! Retrieved December 14, 2023, from https://www.edutopia.org/video/60-second-strategy-appreciation-apology-aha/
Flannery, K.B., Horner, R., Hershfeldt, P, Martinez, S, and La Salle, T. (March, 2020). High School Acknowledgement Systems. Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. www.pbis.org.
School Leaders Now (2019). 27 Teacher Appreciation Ideas to Show Your Staff You Love ‘Em Retrieved December 15, 2023, from https://www.weareteachers.com/teacher-appreciation-tips/