The Good Behavior Game

The Good Behavior Game (GBG) is purported to be an evidence-based behavioral classroom management strategy that helps children learn how to work together to create a positive learning environment. It  is supposed to promote each child’s positive behavior by rewarding student teams for complying with criteria set for appropriate behavior, such as working quietly, following directions, or being polite to each other. The team-based approach uses peer encouragement to help children follow rules and learn how to be good students. It is supposed to enable teachers to build strong academic skills and positive behaviors among students. It is built around four core elements: integrating classroom rules, team membership, monitoring of behavior, and positive reinforcement to both individuals and the group.

When this program was brought to my attention, the following came to my mind:

• The program has confused classroom management with behavior. (Classroom management is about teaching procedures to make instruction efficient; it is not about how students misbehave.)
• Having students sit still is an instruction challenge, not a discipline or behavior problem.
• Classroom rules automatically places the teacher in the role of a cop when a rule is broken. (Teachers who relay on rules unwittingly place themselves in the role of cops enforcing rules. In addition, rules do not creative desire.)
• Monitoring is most effective when it is self-monitoring.
• Positive reinforcement is an outmoded and delitarious external motivation promoting narcism and is based on “Skinnerian” approaches that do not consider internal motivation.

Here is a list of additional counterproductive approaches used in schools.