Tag Archive for 'rewards'

Kudos for Artie Tyler

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.

Fryer’s incentives study

Under the title “Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?” Amanda Ripley of Time Magazine reported about the outcomes of the large-scale study led by Roland Fryer Jr. that tested whether incentive systems affected students’ achievement. Professor Fryer, who collaborated with many others on this ambitious project (> 270 schools), found that rewards for outcomes (e.g., grades and test scores) were less effective than rewards for what he calls “educational production functions” (activities, such as reading and participating, that led to better learning).

Here is how Ms. Ripley characterizes the outcomes:
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Behavior contracts that work

Over on Smart Classroom Management, the site where he presents tips based on his book, Michael Linsin offers three reasons for not using behavior contracts. After a brief introduction that is generally pretty accurate, he argues that (a) “behavior contracts label students,” (b) “external rewards are short term,” and (c) “follow through is a bear.” He recommends employing a consistent behavior management plan for classrooms and adhering to it faithfully.

I certainly agree with the recommendation that teachers adopt and faithfully execute a carefully conceived and evidence-based classroom management plan, but I disagree with Mr. Linsin’s rejection of use of behavior contracts both because I think that contracts may be a component of a comprehensive management plan and because I think the objections he raises are specious.
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Notes about reducing misbehavior

The recent discussions in the press and the US Congress about seclusion and restraint prompted me to draft these preliminary notes about alternatives that are available to school personnel. Generally, one does not need to resort to putting students in isolation or holding them to the ground.

Schools that employ evidence-based practices have a wealth of alternatives to physical seclusion or restraint. These methods range from plain, old good teaching to systematic analysis of the functions that misbehaviors serve. In the next few paragraphs, I present laconic descriptions of these.
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Illustration of managing well

I came across an entry in a middle school teacher’s blog that provides a good illustration of how to manage a classroom learning environment. Ellen Berg, who has taught mostly English and communication arts (but, also shop and pre-calculus) at Turner Middle in a racially isolated part of St. Louis (MO, US) where most of her students receive free or reduced-price meals, tells the story of how she revised her classroom management system.

Similarly, last Monday was a new beginning for my students and me in our classroom. After hearing Harry Wong at the NMSA convention, I knew that I had neglected spending enough time setting up the routines and procedures in my classroom. As a result, I was frequently short-tempered and impatient with my students, and they responded accordingly. This was especially true with my “difficult” after-lunch class. Behaviors were becoming increasingly negative with every consequence I threw at them. It wasn’t working.

The problems that I identified in my classroom were:

1. The level of noise during group work.
2. My difficulty getting the whole class’s attention during group work.
3. Social behaviors when they sat at desk tables instead of straight rows.
4. Students out of their seats at inappropriate times.
5. Lack of focus during mini-lessons.
6. Demonstrating readiness to get on task.

These problems are common ones for teachers everywhere. Some accept it as a natural result of teaching middle school children. I, however, refused to believe that these problems couldn’t be solved.

Ms. Berg goes on to explain her solutions. Mostly, they are simple, commonsense procedures, but they fit quite well with my perspective on classroom management. Read the post to see how Ms. Berg skillfully identified specific goals, demonstrated and explained to her students how to behave appropriately, provided extensive practice for them, and calmly reinforced the students’ adherence to the classroom procedures.

I plan to use her post as an illustration in my teacher education course on classroom management. It has authenticity and clarity that I think make it compelling.

Link to Ms. Berg’s entry.

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