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’
Ever wondered whether it was worthwhile to send notes home about children’s behavior? This note will not provide comprehensive coverage of home-school communication, but there has been a bit of research about using home-school notes as a means of supporting behavior management. There is a system based on "Daily Behavior Report Cards," (DBRC) which is a broad term used to refer to a cluster of similar techniques. Essentially, teachers develop a fairly simple system for describing behavior and use it to communicate with parents; parents use the data to provide previously arranged consequences at home.
M. Tankersley, T. Landrum,
K. Vannest, & S. Forness
TECBD, Tempe, AZ, 2014
Of course, you can see many of the potential issues. Yes, please sing that song about the positives. Right, you'd need to plan the system so that the student wouldn't encounter terrible sanctions for a low report. You'll think of lots of other issues. More help on that in a few secs.
Continue reading ‘Notes on notes home’
Regardless of whether you call it soda, pop, or a soft drink, do you think it might cause violent behavior? In “Does Soda Cause Violence? Teens who drink soda may be more likely to get into fights and act violently,” Emily Sohn of Discovery News goes pretty far along the path to answering in the affirmative.
Teenagers who drink lots of soft drinks get into more fights and carry more weapons than their peers who drink less, found a new study.
And while the study couldn’t determine whether soft drinks actually cause violence, the findings add to a growing — yet still controversial — body of research on the effects of nutrition on behavior.
Continue reading ‘Pop and violence?’
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.
When repeatedly confronted with evidence about their effectiveness, some who drag their feet about using behaviorally based methods might reluctantly concede that such procdures would be effective in certain circumstances. For example, someone might agree that there is an abundance of evidence that the Good Behavior Game can be used effectively and even concede that employing it with young children has long-term benefits, as evidenced by the strong reviews of an intervention that includes the GBG by the Top Tier Evidence folks. “But,” one might imagine them saying, “That technique would never work with older students. It’s just too childish. Adolescents would see right through it. They’d just laugh at you.”
Continue reading ‘GBG in HS’
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?’