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Engaging Families in PBIS at the Middle/High School Level. Dan Seaman, Wisconsin RtI Center Jennifer Grenke, Wisconsin RtI PBIS Network. Why should we Increase PBIS Family Engagement at the Middle/High School Level?. Required in IDEA and NCLB www.ed.gov/nclb Builds positive relationships

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engaging families in pbis at the middle high school level

Engaging Families in PBIS at the Middle/High School Level

Dan Seaman, Wisconsin RtI Center

Jennifer Grenke, Wisconsin RtI

PBIS Network

why should we increase pbis family engagement at the middle high school level
Why should we Increase PBIS Family Engagement at the Middle/High School Level?
  • Required in IDEA and NCLB www.ed.gov/nclb
  • Builds positive relationships
  • Encourages better behaviors
  • Reinforces skills (maintenance)
  • Increases self-satisfaction and optimism among youth, parents, and teachers
  • Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children’s learning at home are linked to higher student achievement and success.
    • U.S. Department of Education Parent Information Resource Center Program
impact of family engagement
Impact of Family Engagement
  • Bill Jackson, entrepreneur, educator and technologist, currently CEO of Great Schools a well known nonprofit organization advises educators “to improve family engagement, they need to make education personal and ‘expose’ parents to demonstrations of student and school excellence they’ve never seen before.”
  • “No matter what the demographics, students are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, graduate and go on to post-secondary education when schools and families partner”

Karen Mapp, Family Involvement Equals…, 2006

prepare staff to work with families
Prepare staff to work with families
  • Help those who work with families take different perspectives on situations by discussing hypothetical cases from different family members’ points of view
  • Ask staff to evaluate their own assumptions and beliefs about the families with whom they work
  • Develop staff communication skills
  • Provide staff time to process with others difficult conversations or situations
prepare staff to work with families continued
Prepare staff to work with families….continued
  • Aid staff in understanding research on families and the theoretical rationale for the program.
  • Respect parents/guardians’ perspective on their child’s abilities and progress. They know their own child in a different setting than you do.
  • Expect to disagree once in a while and embrace the opportunity to see things from a new point of view. Based on a Best-Practice Model created by Dr. Joyce Epstein
obstacles to partnering with families of middle and high school students
Obstacles to Partnering with Families of Middle and High School Students
  • Middle and High School teachers typically have more students than elementary school teachers
  • Families may live further away and cannot come to school as easily
  • Families of middle and high school students have more difficulty helping their children with homework, BUT they can help with learning and practicing behavior expectations
  • Adolescent students are becoming more independent
  • These students are more involved in community activities
what staff can do to recruit and organize family help and support
What Staff can do to recruit and organize family help and support
  • Arrange to use parent/guardian and community volunteers in classrooms. Recruit widely so that all families know their contributions are welcome. Provide trainings, and match time and talent with the work to be done.
  • Communicate with parents/guardians at the beginning of each year to identify talent, times and locations of volunteers.

Based on a Best-Practice Model Created by Dr. Joyce Epstein

what staff can do to recruit and organize family help and support continued
What Staff can do to recruit and organize family help and support …continued
  • Recruit families through face-to-face visits.
  • Ask current and former participants to help with recruitment
  • Hold meetings for parents during nontraditional hours, including weekends and evenings.
  • Visit parents in community locations
  • Ensure that staff are culturally sensitive.
  • Understand the beliefs, values, and attitudes of the community
  • Help staff to think of recruitment and retention as a routine and ongoing process.
ways to support families and students with behavior expectations
Ways to support families and students with behavior expectations
  • If students have several teachers, coordinate classroom expectations, homework assignments, etc.
  • Provide calendars with behavior expectations activities for parents/ guardians and students at home.
  • Ask families to participate in setting goals each year and share progress monitoring data with them
examples of how to involve families with pbis
Examples of How to Involve Families with PBIS
  • At the time of registration and/or open house provide families with information about PBIS and encourage families to consider signing up to be involved with PBIS activities/teams.
  • Families participate in the design and implementation of school-wide celebrations.
  • Families are awarded acknowledgements (gotchas) for their involvement at school
  • Special activities which increase family awareness of school support offered to the students
  • Families volunteer to participate, support, and develop PBIS Universal Store
  • Families are invited to be active on PBIS teams

Examples of How to Involve Families…continued

  • Family members can volunteer at lunchtime to supervise and acknowledge expected behavior
  • Improve school climate and increase family friendly atmosphere through new routines and activities (meet at busses, offer coffee)
  • Families receive acknowledgment when their children act in appropriate and exceptional ways.
  • Family organization supports PBIS activities by designating a special line item in their annual budget.
  • Host a “Back to School Family Night” to share information:

-School-wide expectations

-School “acknowledgements” described

-School matrix sent home for posting on the refrigerator

-Tips for helping students with before and after school routines.

example activities
Example Activities:
  • Vocabulary building became a school and community project in Idaho Falls, Idaho, this could be a PBIS expectation theme! (NEA Policy Brief, pg 2 HANDOUT)
  • R U Smarter Than a Middle Schooler? A game show modeled after a popular television program, brought students and parents together at Adams Friendship Middle School in Friendship. Give it a PBIS twist! (NEA Policy Brief, pg 2 HANDOUT)
  • Parent Matrix on www.wisconsinpbisnetwork.org
tips materials for families
Tips/Materials for Families
  • Provide families with a PBIS calendar and/or expectation teaching timeline with cool tools to match at home
  • Families are informed about PBIS with specially designed handbooks, newsletters and school websites
  • Provide tools to parents to help them understand function of behavior and behavior modification
  • Families of new students can be given a welcome DVD upon enrollment in school. The results will be a visual, in addition to the written documents they receive.
school family community partnership efforts should help families
School, Family & Community Partnership efforts should help families…
  • Get a clear idea of what their children are learning and doing around PBIS
  • Promote high standards for student work
  • Gain skills to help their children in all situations (code switching)
  • Discuss how to improve student progress

Henderson, Mapp, et al. Beyond the Bake Sale, 2007

benefits of family engagement
Benefits of Family Engagement
  • Higher test scores
  • Better grades
  • Better attendance
  • Higher levels of homework completion
  • More positive student motivation
  • Improved attitudes about school work

Darsch, Miao, & Shippen (2004). A Model for Involving Parents…

demonstrated benefits to educators schools
Demonstrated Benefits to Educators/Schools:
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Higher ratings of teaching skills from both parents and principals
  • Higher ratings of school effectiveness
  • Improved classroom behavior through increased knowledge of children’s family, cultural, and community contexts.

(Adapted from Christenson, 1996)


Given the unique challenges and opportunities middle and high schools face, creative strategies should be used to build effective partnerships with families and communities.

- Harvard Family Research Project

commitment to family engagement
Commitment to Family Engagement

Schools that are committed to student success are created in accommodating student and family engagement:

  • Replacing punitive process with ones that seek to understand and improve a child’s situation
  • Creating schedules, polices, and programs that take into account students’ home-life challenges

Henderson and Berla, p. 168-171 Failure is Not an Option, Blankstein, Corwin and Hope, 2004

  • What do you see as the benefits of School, Family & community Partnerships?
  • What do you see as the costs of schools not partnering with Family & community?
appleton west high school
Appleton West High School

Kristin Ruhsam-Tegelman- PBIS Internal Coach at Appleton West


Sheree Garvey-Coordinator of School Improvement-PBIS and Family Partnerships Appleton Area School District


appleton west high school1

Student Population: 1105 Students

Students of Minority: 30%

Students with a Disability: 19%

Students with Free or Reduced Lunch: 47%

pbis implementation at west
PBIS Implementation at West

Year 1 (2010 – 2011)

Freshman Homerooms Focus on Being on Time

Year 2 (2011 – 2012)

All School Focus on Being on Time and Hallway Behavior

Year 3 (2012 – 2013 and 2013 – 2014)

Being on Time

Hallway Behavior

Classroom Behavior

Common Area Behavior

2014 – 2015

Same Target Behaviors

Specific Focus on School Wide Respect and Parent Involvement

barriers or opportunities changing our thinking
Barriers or Opportunities?Changing our thinking!
  • Parents Don’t Understand the Need for PBIS because their students show appropriate behaviors.
  • Parents will seek out opportunities to help and be involved.
  • Parents will help if they are asked and are available.
  • Parents want to be involved but are unavailable when needed.
  • Parents that are unavailable, uninvolved, and do not want much to do with school.
currently utilizing parents


  • School Wide Parent Advisory Committee
  • Comprised of Parents Who Seek Out Involvement


  • Family Night


  • Terrorbackers
  • Donations


  • Assist with Carrying Out Celebrations and Recognitions
utilizing parents in the future


  • 2 Parents involved with Internal Site Coordinators on a monthly basis
  • Assist in making connections with other parents


  • Hand in Hand with Leadership and Advisory Roles
  • Utilize Parents to Support Buy-In


  • Providing Multiple Opportunities Throughout the Year to Meet with Parents
  • Make More Connections with Parents Throughout the Year via Newsletters and Website


  • Working with parents to help make better transitions to high school
  • Working with parents to help students transfer expectations to their first job.
how do we get there


  • Setting a baseline expectation for parents to help support them support their student at school.


  • Beginning of the school year
  • Ongoing to see if information is valuable and/or implemented


  • Leadership Role
  • Planning Role


  • Provide opportunities throughout the school year to continually reinforce and update parents of PBIS practices.
  • Providing opportunities to support parents with students with difficult behaviors.
contact information
Contact Information
  • Dan Seaman
  • seamand@wisconsinrticenter.org
  • 920.265.0696
  • Jennifer Grenke,
  • grenkej@wisconsinpbisnetwork.org
  • 920.604.4140