"Research over time tells us a lot of kids are growing up in an unstructured home setting," said Assistant Superintendent Julie Germann. "When I was a kid and Mom said, 'You're in trouble. Wait till Dad gets home,' you were scared. Nowadays a lot of parents throw up their hands. It's just faster and quicker to give in and appease than correct.
"In school, rules and appropriate behavior become a novel concept for kids all the time," Germann added.
The PBS program creates a school-wide culture that demonstrates what behaviors will be acceptable, which are not unreasonable, mean or malicious.
"Teachers are telling students 'We know you are capable of conforming to the standard. We're going to teach it to you and model for you so you will be successful,'" Germann said.
The program begins at the kindergarten level. Principal Susie Gasser saw value in imbedding the behavior early.
"As a child grows through the grades and understands this, hopefully they reach the middle school and high school growing accustomed to understand back talk and throwing fits are not acceptable," Germann said. "And if they choose to behave that way, they understand there are consequences."
The PBS approach overcomes the problem of having 30 teachers with 30 different expectations, tolerance levels and degrees of patience. Germann said the program brings all the faculty to the same line. Students find each teacher will have the same level of expectations and will handle behavior in the same way.
"The training helps teacher understand a little better how kids arrive in the place they are," Germann said. "It's almost like trying to teach good behavior along with math and social studies."
Intermediate School Principal Peg Bryan has introduced incentives where groups of students can earn tokens for completing tasks and the group earning the most tokens in a specific time frame can earn a reward. The students in turn can motivate each other to choose the right behaviors to help the group.
"You can spend time harping at kids about things they're not doing right," Germann said, "but if you don't teach them what right is, they will tune you out and not understand what you're talking about.
"We're seeing more kids coming to school with little emotional resources," continued Germann. "They don't know patience or what to do besides throwing a tantrum to get their way. This helps build up kids' emotional resilience."
Monett Elementary and Monett Intermediate Schools have taken up the PBS program this year. Principal Annette Cozort at Central Park Elementary opted to wait since her staff had extra training this year to handle the new Response to Intervention (RTI) reading program not used at Monett Intermediate. Cozort plans to phase in PBS next year.
"Positive behavior systems is a project that has grown with the Professional Learning Community (PLC)," Germann said. "In Missouri, it's part of a triad of approaches: behavior, academics and how to utilize data; how to piece the puzzle together for a well-rounded, successful student."