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The PBS method of school discipline is totally different than the BIST system, which our district uses. BIST, if you're using it exactly as designed, requires students to hop to it in obeying the teacher's commands within TWO SECONDS, Buster, or it's safe seat/ time out time.

"What?!!" says the kid with language processing/emotional control issues.

"Oh, disagreeing with me? Then you can go to the Buddy Room across the hall." And here the kid totally loses it and really DOES do something awful, and winds up getting locked into a "Recovery Room," or cement closet. Yep. It happens here, and more often than you'd like to think. My experience has been that teachers have no clue about giving a little warning about transitions, have little/no understanding of the motivations of disabled students, and generally think their balking is "manipulative."

But most neurotypical students are just able to keep it under check, give a hearty but unfelt "YES, Ma'am!" and pretend to obey... while the teacher is watching. Then they can snicker and goof off while she isn't. Meanwhile, the kid with social problems has caught on that it's playtime but can't quite switch gears when the teacher turns around...

I've read in several places about problems with PBS, most notably that it may lead to teachers calling in police rather than resolving issues at school (through closet locking and paddling, sorry, but that's the reality).  Overall, however, I think it's an improvement over BIST.

I also think discipline often depends on the teacher, but having a generally humane "model" to follow does make a difference in school culture.


  1. There are no easy answers--I know schools are being built with "time out rooms", and behaviorism rules the day. Neither really teaches responsibility...being able to respond. If a kid doesn't really know what is going on, how can he be expected to respond appropriately? He looks to the past, where each time he is reprimanded...and becomes more anxious.It is the anxiety that isn't addressed. Karen Kilbane is a special ed teacher that came up with a theory that kids always do the best they can with what they have. And when we punish them for expressing anxiety, which she sees as only an inability to predict what will happen, we don't help them grow, we just make them crazy because we punish them for it. I don't know, it's pretty deep, but it made sense to me. She is a special ed teacher, and she said when she honored the anxiety, which is a totally kosher biological response, a "sane" response...her classroom became far more peaceful. Peace...isn't that what we all want?

    1. SO much in that article. When we pack kids into schools like that, how can we possibly honour a child's anxiety? We can't!

      I don't wonder if this "one in five has mental illness" means that some of this "mental illness" is just a NORMAL variation, as in, some of this anxiety is just one end of the normal spectrum, and these are the folks collapsing in the educational system we have now. The canaries in the coal mines so to speak.


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