School Discipline, Classroom Management, and Student SelfManagement: The Science-based SEL/PBSS Components to Make it Work

Even before the pandemic, students’ (especially those with disabilities) social, emotional, behavioral, and mental health self-management skills and needs were essential both to their academic success, as well as their interpersonal and emotional success. And yet, many of the existing school-wide approaches to enhancing students’ interpersonal, social problem-solving, conflict prevention and resolution, and emotional control, communication, and coping skills have not used science-to-practice strategies and interventions that are (a) strength-based and student/ecological outcome-focused, (b) grounded in the psychology of individual and group normal and abnormal behavior, and (c) implemented in a locally-determined, multi-tiered way where Tier I, II, and III needs are simultaneously addressed.

This presentation describes how to implement a comprehensive, evidencebased social-emotional learning/positive behavioral support system (SEL/PBSS) at the student, staff, school, and system levels, using a multi-tiered approach to prevention, strategic intervention, and intensive wrap-around/crisis management services and supports. Integrated into an effective school and schooling model, this school-wide SEL/PBSS was designated an evidence-based model by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2000. It also has been implemented in thousands of schools nationwide since 1990; it is a comprehensive (school) psychology-grounded (not special education) model (not framework); it has always been integrated into school improvement, strategic planning, and school-based and school-linked mental health practices; and it uses evidence-based implementation blueprints that are tailored to the specific needs and conditions of each school district and its staff.

The SEL/PBSS implementation model involves students, staff, administration, and parents who work together (a) to teach and reinforce students’ culturally-sensitive interpersonal, social problem-solving, conflict prevention and resolution, and emotional control, communication, and coping skills; (b) to create and maintain positive, safe, supportive, and consistent school climates and settings; and (c) to strengthen and sustain school and district capacity such that the entire process becomes an inherent part of their school improvement planning and success.

In all, the model has five interdependent components that will be described in detail: (a) how to establish positive, safe, and proactive school and classroom climates and relationships; (b) the selection and use of a social, emotional, and behavioral skills instruction approach; (c) the development of grade-level and building-wide motivation and accountability systems; (d) how to increase staff and student consistency; (e) the analysis of “special situations” that include the multi-tiered responses needed to implement the other components across settings, involving group and peer dynamics, with students who have unique personal and life challenges. This latter component functionally addresses situations that (e-i) occur in the common areas of a school; (e-ii) involve peermediated teasing, taunting, bullying, harassment, hazing, and physical aggression; (e-iii) involve students with disabilities, with mental health needs, who are experiencing stressful or traumatic life crises, and/or are growing up in conditions that include poverty, systemic racism, abuse, or neglect.

In the end, this presentation will describe a functional, effective, and comprehensive school-wide system that maximizes students’ academic achievement, creates safe school environments and positive school climates, increases and sustains effective classroom instruction and parent involvement, and collects data to demonstrate student, staff, school, and system success.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will learn a definition and the importance of focusing on students’ social, emotional, and behavioral self-management, and the seven critical goals/outcomes of a school-wide Social-Emotional Learning/Positive Behavioral Support System (SEL/PBSS).

Participants will learn the scientifically-based components and specific elements of an evidence-based SEL/PBSS model.

Participants will learn how to implement and sustain an effective multitiered SEL/PBSS that is tailored to individual LEA’s specific student, staff, and school needs.


Wednesday 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

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  • Howard Knoff, Ph.D.

    Dr. Howie Knoff is an internationally-known innovator and hands-on practitioner in the areas of: School Improvement and Turn-Around, Strategic Planning and Organizational Development , School Discipline, Classroom Management, and Student Self-Management (PBIS/PBSS/ SEL), Differentiated Academic Instruction and Academic Interventions for Struggling Students, Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Instruction and Strategic and Intensive Interventions for Challenging Students, Multi-tiered (MTSS/RtI) Services and Supports, and Effective Professional Development and OnSite Consultation and Technical Assistance

    Howie is the CEO of Project ACHIEVE Educational Solutions, and he has implemented his innovative school improvement approaches in thousands of schools or districts over the past 40 years through his Project ACHIEVE program— designated by U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as an evidence-based model prevention program in 2000. An international expert on school safety and discipline, classroom management and school-wide SEL systems, student engagement and achievement, and interventions with behaviorally challenging students, Dr. Knoff was a tenured Full Professor (22 years at the University of South Florida and SUNY-Albany), and Director of the federally-funded State Personnel Development/State Improvement Grant for the Arkansas Department of Education for 13 years—responsible there (with his staff) for school improvement, PBIS, and MTSS services and supports to districts and schools across the state.

    Howie received the Lightner Witmer Award from the American Psychological Association’s School Psychology Division for early career contributions in 1990. He has been awarded over $40 million in federal or foundation grants during his career. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (School Psychology Division), a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and a Licensed Psychologist. Howie has extensive experience as an Expert Witness in federal and state court cases across the U.S., he is frequently interviewed across many different media outlets, and he was the 21st President of NASP.