Behavior Modification or behaviorism in the form of PBIS is widely used in schools and homes.
In fact, this approach of catching kids dong what the teacher wants and then giving rewards to reinforce the behavior is still mandated by state school administrators around the country.
Ask any teacher who has implemented this external approach in the form of PBIS (Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports) to promote responsible behavior and you will hear that, after using this approach for any length of time, it becomes counterproductive. PBIS fails in a number of ways for promoting expected appropriate behavior:
• PBIS is unfair because it is IMPOSSIBLE to reward every student for everything the adult desires.
Also (and this is critical), be sure you have taught, practiced, and practiced again EVERYTHING you want your students to do. A MAJOR ERROR EVEN EXPERIENCED TEACHERS MAKE is ASSUMING that students, of any age, know what to do without first learning, practicing, and ritualizing the procedure or skill.
I’ve just enjoyed reading an excellent thought-provoking book published in 2013, titled Mind over Medicine, written by Lissa Rankin MD.
In one section of the book, Dr. Rankin shares an experiment conducted by social scientists. They were curious about whether or not learned helplessness in senior citizens could be counteracted by increasing their feelings of control, choice and personal responsibility. Because of my familiarity with using these same principles in my teaching by employing Dr. Marshall’s Discipline without Stress approach, my ears perked up!
When I was in high school I had an English teacher who used a very simple strategy to interest and motivate students. It didn’t take much time or effort on his part and was just a simple thing, but it was enough to get me to want to attend his class every single day. What did he do? He simply put up a new thought-provoking quote, in large letters, in the same place, on the same side chalkboard every day.
My class is so messy! They leave trash everywhere and it takes them forever to clean up after centers, or art time or snack! How do you get kids to clean up? They will eventually clean it up because I keep telling them over and over, but I need some ideas!!
I try to approach it in this way in my primary class…
When I ring our chimes to get their attention at a clean up time, I typically make some positive reference to the activity which will directly follow. For instance, I might say….
Who’s interested to see what’s been brought for Show and Tell today?
Here’s the book we’re going to read today. I can’t wait
I am an art teacher at an elementary school. I have three 4th grade classes that are usually difficult to manage. I have recently asked a guest artist to come and do a Jackson Pollock lesson with them. She is supplying all the paint and canvases for this lesson, except one. I also have one very large (6 X 8) canvas that only one class will get to paint. The other two classes will have to work on smaller individual canvases. This lesson requires the students to be on their best behavior and be good listeners as we will be “splatter” painting. I told the classes they could “earn” the big canvas. I said that the class with the … >>> “Do you think I did the right thing?”
Just yesterday I sat listening, mouth wide open, as my dentist and his assistant chatted and worked on my teeth. At one point their conversation turned to family and they updated each other on the lives of their respective children. The dental assistant asked how the dentist’s son, a first year of Med student, was doing. Since the boy had always been a good student, she wondered if he was still getting good grades. The dentist said, “I really don’t know. They don’t give grades anymore. The only mark Med students receive is Pass or Fail.”
When she expressed surprise, he went on to explain further. He said that things were much different now than when he himself had attended … >>> “Competition in Medical School”
One day I decided to have a discussion with my grade one students about how they could use their understanding of the four levels to help themselves become better readers. We talked about the “Whole School Read” session in which we participate each morning. I asked the youngsters to describe hypothetical behaviors of students operating at each of the levels during this daily reading time.
A few years ago, I posted some ideas regarding good intentions that Darlene and I had learned in our workshops with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, a well-known Canadian developmental psychologist. Gordon’s ideas about attachments and relationships are quite unique and extremely helpful to anyone interested in using DWS.
Here’s the gist of his ideas regarding good intentions:
As adults we should actively look for times when a child is displaying or expressing good intentions––and then we should nurture those intentions. Despite the fact that the young person may NOT be able to carry out their good intentions, and that the situation may actually turn out negatively in some sense, we canapplaud their initial desire to do the … >>> “Nurturing Good Intentions”
I’m new to Discipline without Stress so bear with me. I’m wondering if whole-class incentives for staying on Level C or D is appropriate. For instance, if the whole class can stay on Level C or D for a certain amount of time, then could there be some sort of reward like a movie, free time or Preferred Activity Time? Does this completely fly in the face of Discipline without Stress? Are all incentives discouraged?
I can only speak for myself but here are several reasons why I, personally have decided not to offer incentives in my teaching:
1) The basis of the Discipline without Stress program is that it’s counterproductive to reward expected behaviors.
I was talking with a friend yesterday who told me the following story.
Recently she had been chatting with a man who coaches soccer teams of 8 and 9 year olds. He mentioned that this year he’d had a lot of difficulty in getting his players to work together as a team.
My friend, an experienced teacher, started to offer some suggestions; she knew of many activities that might encourage teamwork. But the man quickly stopped her.
“Oh, you don’t understand,” he said. “It’s not the kids who are the problem––it’s the parents! The parents have all promised their children that they’ll get two dollars every time they score a goal. The kids are so intent on getting … >>> “Rewards change motivation”
After first reading Marv’s DWS book more than ten years ago, I started to become conscious of the importance of deliberately planning for “choice” in my teaching. Certainly, as I took on a job at a local Alternate High School six years ago––working one-on-one with sullen, illiterate and often, ashamed teenagers––providing choice was a major consideration in any lesson. There, the first choice always offered was simply “Would you be interested in a reading lesson today?” Darlene, my teaching partner, and I quickly (and painfully) learned that without at least some tiny initial buy-in from these students, we were going nowhere fast––and it wasn’t gonna to be pretty!
Every once in a while, the subject of school awards comes up on the DWS mailring. Usually the person is concerned that their school requires teachers to present student awards. The concern is that this thinking doesn’t mesh well with the philosophy of someone wanting to foster internal motivation.
On another mailring recently, I read a post from a teacher whose school gives awards to every child in the school––but in quite a different way than most do. I asked her permission to reprint the idea here. I thought it might interest those looking for genuine ways to acknowledge children, without the typical problems associated with awards (as we usually think of them.)
I have 5 kids in my second grade class who take most of my attention because of their misbehavior. I feel so badly for the other students who are on task and listening, because honestly, they don’t get very much of my attention. I try to point out what Level D looks like and give these great students more freedom but still I don’t feel that’s enough. How can let these wonders know that they are beingwonderful?
What is a good response to people who argue that extrinsic rewards are okay for students because they’re just the same as an adult getting a paycheck at the end of the week? When people say this, I cringe. I know it’s not the same, but I don’t know how to argue the point intelligently.
DR. MARSHALL’S RESPONSE:
Here is what to say:
Employment is a social contract. A person provides some service for remuneration. The only thing a fee for service has in common with rewards (as acknowledgments or as incentives) is that they both MAY involve legal tender.
QUESTION: I am currently in a situation where I am the permanent teacher, taking the place of another teacher. I have been in this position for about 3 weeks now, and I have noticed that many students arrive late every day. Not just one or two but 10-15 students are arriving late to my class! Are there any positive solutions that I could implement right away to alleviate the problem? I am going to hold a class meeting this Monday to ask them how we can solve the problem. Please help me! I need some guidance and direction in order to alleviate the matter.
DR. MARSHALL’S RESPONSE: A class meeting is a good start for the students.
Last week I spent an evening with Teresa, an old friend of mine who just happens to be a fabulous grade six teacher at a nearby school. As it always does, our talk eventually turned to two of our favorite subjects––teaching and whatever good books we’ve read lately!
One thing I always admire about this friend is her ability to take an idea and run with it in the classroom. She inspires, elevates and motivates her students! Teresa often bases interesting lessons for her grade sixes on some little item she’s found in the newspaper, something she’s heard on a radio talk show or something that comes from a good book she is reading herself. She has a … >>> “Intermediate/High School – Goal Setting and “The Last Lecture””
Today was my first time using DWS in the classroom. I found it extremely difficult to break the habit of praising kids! I want to encourage rather than praise, but it just seems that praising is second nature to me.
When first trying DWS in the classroom there’s much to think about––so don’t be too hard on yourself!
Remember Dr. Marshall’s advice: Implement now, perfect later!
Just do your best and as you go along keep reflecting on things you would like to improve or change. You’re already doing this! Step by step, you’ll start to move in the direction of your goals.