Dos and Don’ts of PBIS: 10 Ways to Increase Equity and Authentic Positive Reinforcement

There’s no magic. Creating an environment that’s rich in protective factors for kids and gets rid of contraindicated practices, gets rid of practices that harm kids, shames kids, isolates kids, you have to show up and do it every day and it has to be from top to bottom.

– Jessica Swain-Bradway, Executive Director of the Northwest PBIS Network



  1. Zero-tolerance
  2. Suspension
  3. Expulsion

When consequences are needed, they should be logicalrestorative, and avoid exclusion or public shaming, like antiquated stop light clip charts, which can cause psychological harm.



  1. Cultural responsiveness
  2. Identifying biases in behavior expectations and the educators who uphold them
  3. Disaggregating data to correct patterns of bias as they arise
  4. Student and family voice and choice


  1. Specific and genuine praise
  2. Thumbs-up/high-five
  3. Student choice:
    • activity selection
    • task transition song selection
    • read-aloud book/story selection

All positive reinforcement reinforcement practices should be non-exclusionary—all students should and do receive reinforcements; there should not just be the illusion that all students “can.”

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