Need Help With Conference Presentation on Behavior

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Proud2BATeacher, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Mar 16, 2016

    I am doing a workshop for teachers but working in a special needs site school has left me out of touch with regular education class. I was wondering what a regular education classroom teacher would like to know what behavior management strategies would you be interested in learning more about? Would tips on fidget tools or reward systems help you?
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    One thing that would be helpful to me would be information on tracking behaviours--ways to track effectively and efficiently within a regular class.
     
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  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I think a helpful topic would include handling transition behaviors and dealing with disruptive students in the classroom using positive behavior techniques. I don't think beginning teachers are exposed to enough behavior management techniques in their training.
     
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Agree with the above. Fidgits have their place and reward systems can be fun, but ultimately do not address classroom management problems. We can wiggle all day, clip up and down all week, use tickets and prizes and class stores all year... and still never learn to manage a classroom of students.

    I want to know how to set up and teach transitions and behaviors, tips on staying consistent, how to keep a class calm, etc.
     
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  6. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I would like to thank everyone for your suggestions. You sure have given me a lot to think about!
     
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  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I totally agree with Backroads! Although I like adding some fun to the classroom, and some rewards can be part of that, I wonder if schools are becoming over-zealous in their rewards. With respect towards differing opinions on this, I've observed schools rewarding with desserts and candy, and in some cases, even requiring the teachers to reward this way. When I first started teaching, this was nick-named "M & M Therapy". (As a person with diabetes and cancer, I would rather students not be trained to associate non-nutritive snacking as a reward for proper behavior. This isn't my case, but children who grow up with that association will have a terrible time breaking away from that habit as adults). Students still misbehave as much as in a less-rewarding classroom, and those students' misbehavior is reinforced with incentive charts for even bigger prizes. I'll never forget what Student 1 said, who found out about Student 2's "secret" incentive chart that the principal gave him (kids don't keep these charts secret) and asked, "Why does Student 2 get all the cool prizes, and he's bad all the time, and I'm good all the time?" Or in another situation, I overheard a parent talking about her misbehaved son, and she said, "I guess I need to up the prizes more." I question what this is teaching these students--misbehave to up the ante?

    I'm also seeing a difference in the reasons for misbehavior these days. Research indicates that stressful home situations (which aren't necessarily the parents' fault) can negatively impact school behavior. I've noticed students are beginning to get like they were when I was in junior high, stressing adherence to certain fashions and attire, which currently seems to be related to how kids are appearing on the Disney Channel, and putting pressure on other students who do not comply with these fads. A very shocking trend I've observed several times, parents are sometimes encouraging their students to avoid certain other students for various reasons, often prejudice. (I know racial prejudice is nothing new, but now students are prejudiced against economic classes, mainstreamed Deaf students or students with other differences (an excellent DVD on that is No Ordinary Hero: The Superdeafy Movie), or religious differences; it seems like parents are trying to filter out whom their children have as friends--not that that's totally wrong, because sometimes parents do need to avoid harmful influences or actual dangerous situations for their children, but I'm talking about just plain prejudicial behavior. When I was in school, most parents taught their children to be friends with everybody in the classroom.
     
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  8. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Indeed. There's nothing inheritantly wrong across the board with incentives and charts and stuff, but so often those seem to be the alpha and omega of classroom management and can have some unintended consequences.
     
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  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I just attended a meeting, where the student was failing all of her classes and misbehaving, and told her mom she would behave if she got an iPhone, so mom decides to buy her an iPhone, and surprise, no change in behavior or grades. And mom was saying she didn't know what else to do and she's run out of options. o_O

    We need to get out of this fuzzy touchy-feely over-rewarding rut that we seem intent on placing students in. We shouldn't reward behavior that's expected for every normal student.
     
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  10. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    This. I have even told as much to my 2nd graders.
     
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  11. Obadiah

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    Yes, as mentioned above, it seems like parents and teachers are rewarding for what's normal expected everyday behavior. It's like--should we start rewarding students for breathing? I was going to include rewarding for eating in my above hyperbole, but then I recalled, no, I've heard of that already being done in reality.

    I'm reminded of the old Andy Griffith show where Opie meets a spoiled kid who teaches Opie how to get his way with his father.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think if you're doing a presentation I'd focus less on what information teachers may want to know, and more about what you have to offer. I think if you were a psychologist or professor, maybe, but as another teacher that may not necessarily have expertise in the content area provided, but probably that does have expertise in another area (i.e., behavior management with a different population), teachers may be fascinated with a "here's what works for me, in my setting" kind of presentation, along with a personal experience kind of thing.
     
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  13. Obadiah

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    I thought about my 2nd post (above) that I might have come on too strongly in expressing my opinion. I do have great respect for those of the opposite philosophy in management--I have disagreements about overuse of operant conditioning, but I also know a few fantastic teachers who rely heavily upon operant conditioning and have wonderful classroom management.
     
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  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    OP, I agree with EdEd. You need to supply what you have to offer.

    I'm enjoying the discussion about rewards, incentives, and behaviors. It seems when we talk about these things we fail to look at the entire picture. I thought Peregrin's anecdote was interesting. It is easy to think the child is playing the parent, but it could just as easily be intent and current ability are two different things. When pushed in a corner and told you must behave, what option does the child who lacks impulse control (whether disability or no) have other than to say something that indicates they will change. I'm not going to is not an acceptable answer, but sometimes people need something more than a reward or a punishment to help build the control or habits needed to be successful, but we rarely look at the skills they are missing and intervene in a way that will work. Sometimes it won't work because the thought process can't be changed or takes years of everyone trying to change it, but I don't think we do a service to students when we just slap labels like playing the parent on the situation.
     
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  15. EdEd

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    Oh, the glorious rewards debate again :). It really, sadly, can't be summed up into "do or don't" - it's just really not that simple, like most things. Like others have mentioned, if your sole strategy is just to reward kids with unrelated prizes to do everything in a classroom, you'll have issues. However, to assume that kids will simply "learn" or "do what they're expected" for nothing at all may be a tall order. After all, as I often say, how many of you are teaching for free? How many of you would continue to teach if you found out you weren't going to get paid anymore? Most of us love teaching, but we also love the paycheck. It's okay that kids find some motivation in unrelated rewards.

    To sum up their effectiveness, rewards are a good part of an overall behavior management system that involves social skills training, strong teacher-student relationships, high but realistic expectations, high quality instruction matched to students' levels, etc. Rewards aren't going to fix bad instruction, though, for example.

    As to the "kids should just do things because" argument: That's great if it works, and is - to be sure - better if you can get it to work. However, if you've got a group of kids who struggle with behavior, who aren't engaged in education, it may be the difference between a functional classroom and not. We can be as idealistic as we want to be, but if what we're doing doesn't work, it isn't working - and we have a professional obligation to follow best practice in the direction of positive change. We can't simply let kids flounder & fail because we have some arbitrary expectation of what a particular student should do.

    On that note, rewards also are not just a Plan B or consolation strategy if we happen to not be good enough with Plan A. Some kids, for example, don't naturally find certain social skills rewarding. Using a bit of artificial reinforcement the right way can encourage social skill use that can actually build those exact long-term, "intrinsic" inclinations that we're really after. In other words, all of those high and mighty expectations and "shoulds" that we have about kids can actually be achieved through the very strategy some of you are blaming for ruining kids.

    I think it's also helpful to audit one's philosophy or assumption that "no rewards is best." Some of us develop that assumption out of best practice. For example, introducing artificial rewards may lead to a dependency on those rewards, a weakened connection between the student & learning, etc. In other words, our emotions and personal values aren't as relevant what works. On the other hand, some of us develop personal ideologies about how education should be, informed by things such as "what it was like for me growing up" or personal conclusions we've come to through our experience. This is less likely to lead to productive results.

    On a somewhat deeper note, consider that "rewards" - including artificial, extrinsic rewards - include things beyond just M&M's. For example, consider potential incentives for good behavior & academic engagement:

    • Getting a great job when you grow up
    • Earning a higher salary
    • Earning respect from teachers
    • Earning parent respect & approval
    • Learning how to basic things (e.g., decode words) so you can do more fun things (e.g., read great stories).

    These are all extrinsic rewards that have nothing to do with finding excitement or pleasure in the activity itself. Are we really saying these aren't valid? We all did many things throughout our own education as students that we really didn't enjoy, but we did them because we knew we'd get something for it, either now (e.g., good grades, parent approval) or down the road. M&M's are conceptually no different, they're just a lot more immediate and maybe we just don't think candy is as valuable as something like "parent approval." We attach our own personal value to what kids should or should not behave for. If M&M's can be the beginning of a journey toward teaching kids the value of education, even when it's not fun, that can be pretty powerful.

    Finally, consider that "reinforcement" is not a singular strategy. A reinforcement system closely integrated with a social skills training program, for example, is different from just dumping M&M's on kids to not talk.
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Ed, Ed, spectacularly said. I will always decry rewards with no other method a poor idea, but beyond that they can be an effective part of a classroom behavior plan.

    I suppose, for me in relation to the OP, I've seen far too many classes on cute little reward systems. It wasn't until I learned more comprehensive ideas did my management begin to come together. I do firmly believe that for most kids there is absolutely nothing wrong with the notion of "you don't get to be praised all over the place for basic good behavior", though: the kids who truly need to help with social and behavior skills are a minority.
     
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  17. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I disagree that the kids who truly need help with social and behavior skill are a minority (unless you mean it in the strictest sense of the term, 49.99999%). I think most kids need help with social and behavior skills. I don't see teaching social skills or behavior skills a strong point of public education. I see punishment of the lack of those skills. I see herding for compliance. But teaching of social skills. No. I think many adults, including myself, have a lot to learn about social skills.

    Then there is always those that can tell you what is supposed to be done but won't recognize it when it is happening.
     
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  18. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Sure, we could all improve our social skills, but I don't think the average student needs a daily gold star for not hitting five kids. In my experience, the vast majority of kids know more or less how to listen, how not to be mean to others, how to keep their hands to themselves/touch appropriately. We might model those a bit and model even more the more refined social skills, but to reward every single kid for not running and screaming and hitting all day but acting like a fairly normal kid? I find it silly.

    This is not to excuse the kids that need a behavior plan possibly with rewards to not hit and scream all day, but really, how many of us have a majority of our students on such behavior plans?
     
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  19. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I too am appreciating the above discussion. EdEd, I always enjoy your enlightening postings. Friendly discussions such as above are helpful in seeing the viewpoints from all sides, which is important in any scientific endeavor. I just got finished reading an interesting math book, How Not to Be Wrong, (sorry, I forgot to copy down the author's name). Anyway, he mentioned, from a mathematician's point of view, how scientific research is often prejudiced in favor of the researcher's original opinion, rather than from an objective interpretation of the results.

    By total coincidence, I've just started reading Kohn's book, Punished by Rewards. I'm only a few chapters into the book, but so far, he seems to be on the far end of the argument against any organized reinforcement, positive, negative, or punishment. The research he's been citing so far indicates that rewards push students toward the goal but causes them to ignore incidental learning, creativity, and other facets of learning. I don't find myself totally agreeing with all of his conclusions, and I find my self agreeing with him a lot, too; I find my paradigms strengthening, weakening, or shifting back and forth, so in other words, it's a worthwhile book to read so far.
     
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  20. EdEd

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    Thanks! And definitely - there are way too many cute reward systems that are ineffective, the "flip a card" system being my least favorite :). There's definitely a lot more to good behavior management. Well said yourself...
     
  21. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    So I don't think you're saying this, but "needing help with social skills" is definitely not the same as needing a gold star for every little behavior. I think what you got to before about a more comprehensive approach actually includes this concept - that we should look beyond reinforcement/punishment to influence social & behavioral development.

    I'd also agree that, with a lot of those basic skills such as "raising your hand," there may be an issue of performance over skill development. In other words, the child probably does know how to raise his/her hand, but is choosing not to for some reason.

    That being said, this gets into an area of more depth with social skills - that it's not just the topography of the skill (or the physical act of being able to raise one's hand) or even appropriate timing (knowing when to raise one's hand), but things like behavioral inhibition and understanding the deeper importance of why one should raise his/her hand, which can actually get into deeper issues like why one values education. There's some room for disagreement that all of that constitutes a "social skill," but I believe it does - that social skills aren't just what to do, but knowing the full context of that skill use.

    This doesn't even get into more complex skills, such as ones involving conflict resolution or conversation skills. Ever try teaching an annoying or attention-seeking kid how to engage conversationally with other kids appropriately? It's tough - there are so many nuances of social interaction, from social perception to delivery. Just the other day I was trying to teach the idea of "compliments" to an 8-year-old. First, he had never heard the word and didn't understand the concept. Beyond that, he couldn't figure out exactly how to give compliments in a way that didn't seem artificial or poorly timed. "Say nice things" or "give compliments" seems easy conceptually, until you start to try teaching that to kids who have grown up in environments with no experience with the concept.

    Enter reinforcement. In this last example with compliments, this particular boy gets frustrated easily, and was only very mildly open to the idea of using compliments in the first place. I was confident, though, that once he experienced the power of positive social interaction over inappropriate comments and critique, he'd be hooked. I needed a bridge to get there. Artificial reinforcement was that bridge - asking him to engage in the process in order to earn a reward, only to discover in the process that those newly learned skills actually had value. And I'm still not done with this. He still hasn't fully understood or bought into the process, and I really believe it's due to a skill deficit - what, how, when, why of the skill (compliments), fluidity of the skill, and understanding that skill the context of broader social interaction.
     
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  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Thanks Obadiah - me too. These kinds of discussions are why I come to this forum - interesting exchanges by folks that are open and interested in stuff that seems relevant.

    You know, I've never read any of his full books, but have read about his work before. I think he's definitely got a point. Even beyond those limitations mentioned with reinforcement, there's the idea that kids are doing something because someone else wants them to, rather than discovering the value of the behavior for oneself, buying into it, and incorporating it into his/her arsenal of go-to strategies. I myself, as I mentioned before, have been leaning heavily away from the reliance of reinforcement. I do use it, but it's a very small part of the overall process.
     
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  23. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    EdEd really got into why I feel that everyone probably needs help on social skills unless you are talking about the highest level of compliance such as not hitting others. Sure it is a social skill to not say mean things to others, but many just don't say anything because they don't know what else to say and saying mean things was a way to interact, although poorly. So, we get a good group who comply but do not socially understand how to interact well. Some end up seeming like the introvert when they are just at a loss of how to fit in and comply at the same time, especially when they don't know how to interact with the more socially aggressive students who dominate and control the situation.
     
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  24. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    And this is all well and good and quite true, but at the same time and in relation to the subject of classroom management, most classroom management systems are simply not set up to teach or even deal with those social skills.
     
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  25. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    You are right. They are not nor will they ever be if the main reason for the systems is compliance rather than addressing the need.
     
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  26. bella84

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    I'd just like to chime in by saying that I think that "classroom management", "social skills instruction", and "behavior management" are three entirely different things that are often inappropriately tied together as one. Each has a separate and important purpose, and all should be present in any classroom. Unfortunately, when they are tied together as one overarching plan, certain key components go missing, and it gets watered down to punishments and rewards based on behavior.
     
  27. Backroads

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    Ladies and gentleman, we have fodder for a new thread.
     
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  28. EdEd

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    Definitely so! That would be quite interesting.

    Yes, there are different purposes. I'm not sure it's feasible or even advisable for them to be completely separate, but it's definitely helpful to consider the fundamental purpose of each and make sure those (sometimes competing) influences are present, even if you only have one "plan."
     
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  29. Obadiah

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    Dan Yang, you've brought up an important point. A student does what s/he thinks will work best in each situation; I suppose all people do. In the case of a school student, s/he is away from her/his parents and surrounded by other students and teachers. That also influences behavioral choices. Probably the key factors in decision making (good or bad) are previous learning and a propensity towards risk taking (again, good or bad).
     

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