Maryland Positive Behavior Support Training

Build a Strong Tier 1 Foundation

Core features of tier 1 supports help establish a positive, and predictable environment for everyone in the home, work, or community setting where it is implemented. Tier 1 strategies include using person-centered practices as a way to create positive social interactions and prevent challenging behaviors from occurring by responding to problems in a consistent manner. Tier 1 strategies are used to:

  • Identify important values and routines,
  • Encourage staff and people supported to learn and social skills, and
  • Recognize and reinforce the positive social interactions that occur.
Matrix with four columns and four rows. The headings on the columns are Cleaning, Meal Prep, Doing Dishes, Grocery Shopping. The rows are titled Respect, Kindness, Helpfulness and Communication.  Cleaning & Respct: Get chores done on time,before dinner.  Clearning & Kindness: Say "thank you" or "that looks good". Cleaning and Helpfulness: Maybe get a kudos board. Offer to bring supplies if needed. Cleaning & Communication: Look at the calendar so you don't have to remind each other. Let your great work speak for itself 9no need to talk about what you did). Meal Prep & Respect: Say Thank you" Offer each other complements on good food. Meal Prep and Kindness: Assist each other in looking up new recipes on the tablet. Meal Prep & Helpfulness: Offer to teach each other cooking skills. Meal Prep and Communication: Look at calendar to know what is going on. Learn the likes and dislikes of each other. Ask the likes and dislikes of each other. Doing Dishes & Respect: Honor each other's process but keep up the timeline. Doing dishes & Kindness: Ask if help is needed. Doing dishes & Helpfulness:  Rinse you plate. Clear your dishes. Put away someone else's dishes. Doing Dishes & Communication: Tell each other if you need to switch days.  Grocery Shopping & Respect:  Team the other person if you are not going grocery shopping. Watch for other people's feet when driving the cart. Be OK with what other person picks out.  Grocery shopping & Kindness: Learn how to make the grocery list. Do the grocery list together. Pick-up something your roomate might like. Grocery shopping and Helpfull ness: Help Cary the groceries in from the car. Help make the list. Grocery Shopping & Communication:  Tell your roomate if you are not going shopping. Look at the calendar to see whose day it is.

Adapted from Freeman, R., et al. (2021). Department of Human Services training on organization-wide person-centered practices and positive behavior support. University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration: Minneapolis, MN.

Organizations using positive behavior support start by creating a team to organize their work. One way to begin is to start small and pilot tier 1 strategies in one location or setting. An example of an activity that can be used to create a common set of values linked to everyday routines is called the “matrix.” For example, two roommates recently moved into in a home together and used their weekly check in meeting to talk about the values that they felt were important. Both women were active in volunteering in their community and valued helping others. The two women agreed that respect, kindness, helpfulness, and good communication were values they felt were important. Together, the women made a simple list of the social behaviors they felt showed respect, kindness, helpfulness, and effective communication. You can see in the visual on this page that these women decided to highlight activities that often require collaboration as roommates. The staff working at the home worked with the two women to create opportunities to practice these skills and helped to create lesson plans for practicing new skills. Review this Resource Guide to get started using a matrix at tier 1.

  • Ask people to brainstorm a list of values that are most important to them
  • List the routines and settings where these values are needed
  • Vote on 3 to 5 most popular values and make a list of the settings or routines where these values will be observed
  • Define what the social behaviors look like that show each value in each setting or routine
  • Create lessons plans and ways to teach, practice, prompt behaviors
  • Design a way to recognize, reinforce, and celebrate when social behaviors are aligned with values

The visual below is an example of a plan for training.

Univeral Social Skill Tool Team Activity Example: Social skills selected for training plan: Working together. Behavioral definitions addressed in this tool (takend from MN Direct Oberservation and Self-Assessment Tool): Observable actions include: Offer to help. Do something togther with someone. Routine selected for learning/practicing soical skill: Dinner. Prepare for training. Decide how to share the training: 2 roomates living together. Who will participate in the training: Akemi and Martha. What materials are needed to complete ths training? Practice skills right before and during dinner preparation. Write down examples and non-examples of the behavror (see sample below) Non-examples of social skills: Watching Akemi get dinner ready from chair, Watch TV, Talk to a frind on the phone. Exmaples of social skills: Offer to get food out, Put plates on the table, stir soup for Akemi.

The matrix can also be used by staff and others to create a positive place to work. A county team in Minnesota discussed how to increase person-centered practices and cultural responsiveness during meetings. In these county team meetings, each member was asked to share positive examples of person-centered language, respect for others, and appreciation of culture. The team worked to increase awareness and celebrate when positive examples occurred during meetings. The table below shows how the team organized their person-centered values and the types of actions that reflect their values. The first column describes the values: use person-centered language, show your respect for people, and demonstrate appreciation of culture.  The team set aside time after the meeting to talk about and give people positive feedback when when these actions were observed.


Before Meetings

At the Beginning of a Meeting

While Sharing a Person's Information

Supporting Other Team Members

Use Person-Centered (PC) Language

Use PC Language in Documents (Emails, Handouts)

Provide Reminders Before Meeting (Be Sensitive to the Use of Acronyms)

Be Receptive and Aware of Language Used

Celebrate Use of PC Language as Team

Show Your Respect for People

Use Active Listening During Conversation

Attend Meetings on Time

Place Cell Phones on Vibrate

Share Only  the Information Needed

Provide Feedback to Others

Listen to Others and Ask if Feedback is Invited

Demonstrate Appreciation of Culture

Review Plans and Discuss Roles of Identity & Culture

Review Possible Cultural Bias and Assumptions

Share Thoughts on the Role of Culture in Person's Life

Discuss How Culture Can be Incorporated Into a Plan