Classroom Discipline Evolves at Cam High


Photo by: Bryce Dearden

(From left to right) Mrs. Tawney Safran, Mr. Matthew Doyle and Mrs. Bonnie Mills promoting their PBIS t-shirts.

During the month of October, teachers at Cam High have integrated a program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, or PBIS, into classrooms across campus in order to minimize minor disciplinary problems among students. PBIS is brand new to the OUHSD and involves over 20 faculty and administration members at Cam High who aim to prevent unwanted behavior on school campuses before they become excessive.

The PBIS campaign is promoted through videos uploaded to Cam High Connect every week with a new topic addressed in each episode. Social science teacher and PBIS spokesman, Mr. Matthew Doyle, films with students from his third period class, giving them the opportunity to reach out to other members of Cam High with issues that they have noticed around campus. The videos consist of catchy one-liners intended to be easily remembered, and each week Doyle wears a different shirt, made by students in AP studio art, depicting the subject he will be tackling.

Topics mentioned thus far include: staying aware in the hallways with headphones (“one earbud in”), avoiding foul language (“keep it clean”), preventing crowding of the hallways (“walk and talk”), reducing the PDA on campus (“catch and release”), and preventing littering (“trash and recycle”). Other teachers involved include social science teachers Mrs. Tawney Safran, Mr. Bryan Staples, and Mr. Chris Quinn, as well as art teacher Mrs. Bonnie Mills.

“Bad behavior choices, mild or serious, need direction, correction, or modification. The intervention aspect of PBIS is all about getting in front of behavior that could turn negative,” said Mills. “Along with doing away with unwanted behavior, [PBIS] is spotlighting all the many teachers on campus that use these supports in their classroom before it was a program.”

The OUHSD implemented this program district-wide, and select teachers were sent to Sacramento to learn how to incorporate PBIS into their respective schools. “I had no clue what PBIS was [at first],” said Safran. “We [teachers] were asked to attend a two-day seminar right before school started. Even the first day [of the seminar] I had no clue what was going on, but I think that is because a lot of [the disciplinary action they were advocating for] we at Cam High already do.”

Although the program is not designed to replace all disciplinary measures, the purpose is to catch problematic behavior ahead of time, according to Doyle. “[One of the] PBIS-recommended methods is for a teacher to meet students at the door of their classroom, and by doing this, you are able to tell if the student is having a bad day,” said Doyle. “Little things like these that [many] teachers on this campus already do [are emphasized in the program].”

According to the organization’s website, PBIS is meant to be embraced by students and teachers, so they can work together to improve their school’s social, emotional, and academic environment. “I think it is great that we are getting more students involved. Kids get told what to do by adults all the time, so I think students respond better when it comes from their peers” said Ms. Erin Burke, Cam High’s district representative for PBIS.

“I think it is admirable for Mr. Doyle to spearhead a movement that corrects small things in order to improve our education system,” said junior Keenan MacNeill, who has been featured in numerous PBIS Cam High Connect videos.

According to Doyle and MacNeill, it is too soon to tell how the program has affected the student body. “Even if [students] are joking around about [the videos], they’re still talking about them,” said Doyle, optimistic about the results.

“Anytime there is change, it takes time to completely embrace, but all the teachers are patient and confident about the outcome,” said Mills.