How Social Emotional Learning and Positive Behavioral and Interventions Supports Work Together

Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process of acquiring the skills to recognize and manage emotions, develop caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations effectively. SEL provides schools with an evidence-based framework for preventing problems and promoting students’ well-being and success. The SEL framework is an integrated approach involving every student, the entire staff, the family, and the community. 

Effective SEL addresses the fundamental conditions for learning and fosters students’ capacity to learn. Best practice includes classroom teachers modeling evidence-based explicit social emotional skills instruction in a safe, caring, supportive, participatory learning environment. SEL is fundamental to children’s healthy development and enables schools to educate students to be good problem solvers and caring, responsible, engaged citizens. A major review of SEL research provides strong evidence that building social and emotional skills improves student attitudes, behaviors, and academic performance. Schools may consult for evidence-based programs that match their needs and characteristics. 

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Positive Behavioral and Interventions Supports (PBIS) is a framework for providing a range of systemic and individualized strategies for achieving important academic and behavior outcomes while preventing problem behaviors. Schools that apply PBIS establish clear school-wide expectations for behavior which are taught, modeled and reinforced by all staff. 

PBIS was originally developed as a way to work with students and other individuals with developmental disorders in various settings. It was an alternative to punishment-based interventions. Over time PBIS was expanded to address the larger community as a school-wide approach, recognizing that individuals with disabilities do better when the whole environment supports positive behavior. PBIS does not prescribe specific teaching practices, which allows schools to choose practices and programs that fit their characteristics. ​


Working Together

SEL and PBIS are both rooted in the belief that students learn best in a safe and well-managed learning environment. PBIS establishes a common purpose and approach to discipline throughout the school by establishing positive expectations for all students. These expectations are taught, practiced, and reinforced through a reward system. 

SEL helps students and adults develop specific social and emotional competencies that have been linked to positive outcomes. Evidence-based SEL programs teach these skills explicitly and provide opportunities for practice, feedback, and application within content areas and throughout the school setting. Both SEL and PBIS support using assessment information to help establish organizations that are committed to effective practice. 


PBIS is an approach to supporting students to be successful in schools. PBIS was developed from research in the fields of behavior theory and effective instruction.

PBIS supports all students through intervention ranging from a school-wide system to a system for developing individualized plans for specific students.

​School-wide PBIS focuses on the development and implementation of pro-active procedures and practices to prevent problem behavior for all students and improve school climate. 

​All schools in the Ridgefield School District adhere to the following expectations: 


At PBIS schools, all staff use positive, supportive, and instructive feedback and acknowledgement when students follow the expectations, and corrective feedback when students are not following the expectations. Expectation violations are an opportunity to teach the correct behavior and increase students’ repertoire of possible appropriate responses.  Click on the school symbol below for detailed expectations.


Students are acknowledged for positive behavior in a variety of ways and on a frequent basis.  Teachers and staff have many ways in which they acknowledge students, including an acknowledgement ticket, which staff may hand out to recognize a specific positive student behavior.  Each school has an acknowledgement system where students can exchange their tickets for a variety of privileges and tangible items. 

In addition to acknowledgement tickets, students are also recognized for positive behavior as individuals, classrooms, and schools.  At Union Ridge, classrooms are acknowledged for “Best Tater Playground Behavior”, “Best Tater Cafeteria Behavior”, “Best Tater Arrival Behavior”, and “Cleanest Tater Classroom”.  South Ridge recognizes classrooms who fill their classroom jar with tokens and place one Road Runner up on the goal line wall in the cafeteria every time a class fills a jar with tokens; once the goal line of twenty-five Road Runners is reached, the school has a school-wide recognition party that has been voted on and approved by students at a previous assembly.  Sunset Ridge and View Ridge have a PBIS student store that is open twice a month, where students can trade their tickets in for privileges and small tangible items.  All tickets spent at the PBIS store then go into a school-wide drawing where several tickets are randomly selected during the monthly assemblies and include items such as spirit wear, mystery prizes, and pizza or doughnuts with the principal.  Students at RHS can place their Spud Bucks into a large bin where the principal pulls out several names throughout the month; students whose Spud Bucks are drawn receive a variety of prizes.  KWRL also recognizes students for positive bus behavior and recognizes those students with certificates at the monthly assemblies.  ​