In one of my classrooms when I was teaching in the early 1970s, I used to give my students tickets, tell them to write their names on the back of each one, and give one to a classmate when the classmate did something that made them feel good. It was a slapdash effort on my part to promote positive interactions among the students and to reverse the usual complaints about what one or another student had done (“tattling”). Christopher Skinner and his colleagues took these same ideas way many steps better. In the place of “tattles” they created “tootles” by combining “tooting” one’s horn with “tattling.”
Tootling is similar to tooting your own horn in that positive behaviors are monitored and reported. However, during tootling students report peers’ positive behaviors, not their own. Tootling is similar to tattling, only, when tootling, peers report incidental prosocial behaviors. (Skinner, Cashwell, & Skinner, 2000, p. 263),
Continue reading ‘Let’s tootle’
Vanguard, the investment company, provides a free product called “My Classroom Economy” that it touts as a way to promote financial literacy. It is something like an extended token economy. Vanguard associates My Classroom Economy with the practices of Raef Esquith, the author of popular education books such as Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire.
The directions vary in specificity. At the primary grades, students are to earn a lump sum of $2 each week, provided they did not break one or two rules (each infraction costs $1). As is obvious, the system was not created to permit particularly fine-grained reinforcement. At the middle grades, students pay “fines” but they are levied at a later time than when the misbehavior occurred, that is, the consequences are not necessarily immediate. So, following the recommendations of Mr Classroom Economy probably would not provide a sound basis for a behavior management system.
Continue reading ‘Token economy resource’
Artie Tyler drives a bus in the Frederick (MD, US) area, just a bit northwest of Washington, DC. According to a feature story by Marge Neal of the Frederick News-Post, Mr. Tyler made a difference in the behavior of the students on his buses, taking over challenging routes and turning them into successful rides for the students.
Eight minutes isn’t a lot of time.
But in eight-minute blocks of time, school bus driver Artie Tyler completes his rounds for more than 50 Monocacy Elementary School students each morning and afternoon. He does more than drive — he goes the distance.
“Artie is part of our staff here at Monocacy,” said school Principal Jason Anderson. “He’s concerned not only about their safety to and from school but their academic well-being as well.”
When he took over the routes, he reported that there were fights and other problems. To solve them, it seems that Mr. Tyler hit upon one of the basic tenets of behavior management. He started catching the kids being good. In Ms. Neal’s report Mr. Tyler said, “I worked closely with the school—these people are awesome. We came up with an incentive program that seems to be working.” He provided rewards and gradually stretched the required time for earning them.
Here’s a “Way to go!” Mr. Tyler and the local schools there approached this matter the right way. I am so glad they didn’t adopt the more common approach of passing out office discipline referrals for misbehavior on the bus. Stamp this one with a great big “W” for “winner!”
Read Ms. Neal’s story, “Monocacy school bus driver turns students’ behavior around” from 11 March 2011.
Teacher A: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we didn’t have to use any aversive procedures. Punishment is such a drag.
Teacher B: Yes! I agree. Positive reinforcement is sooo powerful—shaping, schedules, maintenance, and all that. You can do just about everything with it.
Teacher A: Really. I mean, we should make our classes totally positive this year. No negatives. None!
As strongly as I advocate the use of positive strategies in classroom management (“Catch ’em being good!”), I have to acknowlege that there are at least three reasons it is impossible to create behavior management systems that exclusively employ positive reinforcement. Here’s why reasonable folks should resist the superficial appeal of the all-positive or positives-only Chimera.
Continue reading ‘Why not only positives?’
Look under ‘posters & stickers’
I am pleased to call readers’ (both of you) attention to NoSpank.net. Although much of the advocacy presented there promotes parenting and teaching practices that have limited scientific bases, the organizing feature is a rejection of the use of physical violence as a disciplinary method. I support that effort.
There are at least 40-11 better alternatives, starting with teaching the child or youth what to do. More specifically and technically, here is a list of alternative methods for reducing the chances that a behavior will occur in the future:
Continue reading ‘No spanking’
Professor Brian Iwata, who has extensively studied functional behavior analysis, will conduct a two-day workshop entitled “Functional Analysis & Treatment of Severe Behavior Disorders” in Philadelphia (PA, US) on 28 – 29 September 2009. Psychologists may earn 11 CE credits, BCBAs & BCABAs 12 Type 2 CE credits. Walt Antonow, who manages these workshops, advised me that as of 2 Sep there were only 15 seats available, He has a brochure available.