For Adults Only II: Team Building with Reminders, Reinforcers, and P.E.A.R.L.s

  • Situation

    I have a great team in my classroom but sometimes we are not on the same page when it comes to providing preventative or consequential interventions with students. One person might talk too much to a student, giving attention to behaviors of concern and inadvertently increasing the behavior, while another person may not do enough. Sometimes the basics of student interactions are just not there. What can I do to make us a more cohesive team with our interventions?

  • Summary

    Teams need reinforcement as much as students. Note that an answer on this site: “For Adults Only: Team Building with Reminders and Reinforcers” provides a strategy for classroom teams. You may find it helpful to refer to that answer as well. This resource expands on that strategy’s concept to encompass whole school settings.


    Provide in-services and training to the entire school on Positive Behavior Supports for students. Include in the trainings information on the P.E.A.R.L. strategy for teams. This is a strategy that can be found in: “Helping Exchange: P.E.A.R.L.” written by Martin J. McMorrow, M.S. It offers positive strategies for interacting with students.


    P.ositive – defines and invites positive interactions; positive adult attitude

    E.arly – Stresses the importance of interacting early by providing help or problem solving and not waiting until a risky situation develops.

    A.ll – shows how to use all components, with all people, in all settings,  all of the time

    R.einforce – Shows how to interact in ways that acknowledges  independent behavior and encourages future use of the behavior

    L.ook – identifies opportunities to teach and encourage greater participation in the community


    Once your school has received training in Positive Behavior Support Strategies and understands the P.E.A.R.L. concept, develop a school-wide adult reinforcement system for using this technique. When any personnel member sees another staff member utilizing a positive strategy/interaction, they can write a personal note (does not need to be signed) to the member, specifically describing what they did with a student that met one of the training strategies.


    These ‘”Thank You P.E.A.R.L.” notes can be folded and made into  a card (see Resources below). The note may then be placed on a public wall. When removed, the note may be placed in the staff’s personnel file. In addition, provide each staff member with a a small cup placed on their desk. A colleague who witnesses the performance of a positive strategy can also drop a ‘pearl’ into the cup. What a fun surprise to see a cup filling with pearls.


    Another or additional strategy is to hand off a “You make a Difference” ticket from one colleague to another when witnessing the demonstration of a positive intervention. Such simple gestures can make daily on the job performances feel well worth the effort. We adults need our reinforcement as well and will undoubtedly increase our rate of delivery and in turn continue to  increase the skills of our students.

  • Definition

    “For Adults Only II- Team Building with Reminders, Reinforcement, and P.E.A.R.L.s” is a school-wide method to teach and then reinforce adult use of positive student support strategies in real time. Personal recognition in the form of public “Thank You Notes” and tangible symbolic items as pearls and ‘You Make a Difference’ tickets can provide social reinforcement, recognition  and pride in a job well done. This adult intervention can make teams more consistent and positive using their skills and consequently increase positive student behavior.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 3-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Whole school training on Positive Behavior Supports and the P.E.A.R.L. interaction style


    Thank You P.E.A.R.L. cards


    Fake ‘pearl’ beads


    Cups for staff desks or personal area


    ‘You Make a Difference’ tickets

  • Process

    1. Arrange for school wide in-service trainings about Positive Behavior Supports and the P.E.A.R.L. interaction style. (see Summary for a brief description)

    2. Purchase faux pearl beads to be stored but easily available to staff in the school office.

    3. Create a “Thank You Pearl” card and a “You Make a Difference” ticket (see Resources below). These items can also be available in the office.

    4. Provide small cups or containers for each staff member to be placed on their desk or personal space area.

    5. Designate a staff public bulletin board to post the Thank You Cards.

    6. Explain the reinforcement system to school personnel at the end of the trainings

    7. When a staff member witnesses a colleague demonstrating a positive strategy or interaction style that stands out to the staff member; they can: write a “Thank You Note” to the colleague and post on the bulletin board, drop a “pearl”  in their cup, or pass off a “You Make a Difference” ticket. The Staff member may choose to reinforce with more than one of the reinforcers.

    8. If a “Thank you card” has been posted, be sure at some point to deliver it to the office to be placed in the staff member’s file.

    9. Note that these small gestures have a large impact on adults, making their daily on the job performances feel well worth the effort. Adults need reinforcement as well as students. With reinforcement, staff members will increase their rates of positive interactions with students along with their skills providing positive behavior supports. Consequently positive student behaviors will also increase.

      Consultant/Author: Andee Morris, M. Ed.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    Book: The Helping Exchange: P.E.A.R.L.


    If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.