By Fanna Easter CPDT-KA, ACDBC, KPA CTP, ABCDT-L2
By Luca Canever, TAGteach Faculty
Managing the reinforcement for a group of people is one of the major difficulties that we may encounter. Especially if the people in question are 20 kids, 11 years old, with interests and personalities different from each other.
For the last two months I’ve been working in a school as a teacher. For the first time, I have the chance to use the marker with a large group — a group with no particular desire to be at school! How can we reinforce them? Some of the kids enjoy candies, some others like beads or extra time for recess. There are (they exist!) students who find study itself reinforcing, but, they are very, very, very rare.
Do you want your teaching to result in success the first time? Here’s how to do it: Set a learning goal that the learner can already do. It’s that simple. Start every new lesson with success and then keep building on this to get more success.
What is the Point of Success?
The point of success is something the learner can already do and where he is guaranteed to earn a tag. For example a kindergarten student can certainly pick up a pencil with her writing hand. The first tag point in teaching letter formation could be “pencil in writing hand”. Starting with the point of success ensures success on the first try and provides a rewarding introduction to the lesson. The point of success will gradually change as the learner gains competency. The point of success is a place to return to if the learner is having trouble with more difficult tag points.
There is a book called “Punished by Rewards” by Alfie Kohn. I saw the title and thought “how can that be?” and so I bought the book. Dr. Kohn explains how endless stickers and charts and ribbons and praise and approval to children for every single accomplishment no matter how small is creating children who cannot function without outside approval. They have no confidence in their own abilities and low self esteem because they judge themselves through the eyes of others. They are not self motivated and do not derive satisfaction from achievement for its own sake since they have been systematically trained to look to others for approval as a result of the frivolous doling out of rewards by parents, teachers and coaches. This is of course an over-simplification, since it is quite a long book with lots of scientific references, but you get the idea.
The Praise Junkie
Theresa McKeon (TAGteach cofounder and professional gymnastics coach) calls these kids “praise junkies”. They are the ones that always want the coach to look at them. They can’t work independently. They are not focused on learning, but are focused on what the coach (parent, teacher, etc) thinks. They require constant approval and encouragement. They may even misbehave in order to have the attention focused back on them if other children are getting in the way of this.
By Karen Pryor (first published in 2010)
Last week TIME magazine ran a cover story about paying kids cash money to get better grades.
The objections to cash ‘rewards’ for schooling have been around for a long time and can lead to tremendous political uproar. There are moral objections—children should do what’s expected of them without reward. There are philosophical, theoretical, religious, and of course financial objections.
Well, this fellow at Harvard, economist Roland Fryer Jr., decided the first thing to do was to find out if paying kids to do better in school actually worked or not. Forget all the existing studies and opinions. Forget those specific schools where reinforcers, large and small, are built into the system. According to TIME, Dr. Fryer “did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment.” (Just think about THAT for a minute. They opine stuff and put it into the schools and they don’t TEST it?)
Parents, teachers and other adults need to realize that it is all very well to hope that an innate sense of moral obligation will cause Jimmy to clean his room or raise his hand in class, but if you want the job done easily and well, then you need to pay with currency that kids value.
What do kids really want for reinforcement? How can we possibly find out? Social worker Lynn Loar PhD decided to ask them. The simple answer was candy, for one thing; money for another. But it’s more complicated than that, as these kids explain in an article published in the the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of the Latham Letter. The article is authored by Lynn Loar and five young co-authors.
By Martha Gabler MA, TAGteach Faculty
TAGteach is so Versatile
Not only does TAGteach help with behavior, you can also use it to help kids overcome learning obstacles.
Here are two examples of how people used TAGteach to help kids who were unhappy about completing their spelling and writing assignments. These were quick, spur-of-the-moment interventions, but they created great outcomes.
By Karin Coyne and Abigail Curtis DVM, TAGteach Faculty
Twelve teenage girls, twelve dogs, four days and three nights. How does one manage that without yelling, nagging or feeling frustrated? Seven years ago, we started a 4-H dog camp along with another friend. Teenagers and their dogs come to camp and try a variety of activities: agility, obedience, tracking, nosework, flyball, and anything else we can imagine. Teaching the activities is the easy part, but how do you manage that many campers and dogs? TAGteach to the rescue!
The first few years of camp, we attempted to use TAGteach based on what we had been able to pick up on the internet and applying the principles of clicker training to people. It went… okay. There were parts that didn’t seem to work and we had a hard time implementing it. The campers still had a good time, but it simply didn’t work as smoothly as we wanted it to.
We Went to a TAGteach Seminar!
Until we went to a seminar. That’s when it all clicked for us. We came out of there simply bursting with ideas. It changed the way we taught, the way we managed campers, and most importantly, it changed the way we THOUGHT.
by Kristen VanNess
Reprinted with permission from the KPCT blog
I’m part of a group that runs a 4-H dog camp each summer called The Ohio 4-H Teen Dog Experience. A group of teens from all parts of Ohio spends several days with their dogs and new friends in an intense dog-training environment. Eleven 4-H’ers and their dogs attended the four-day camp in June, 2009.
Kids come from different areas of the state, and have varied experience levels coming into camp. Some campers are from 4-H clubs that do not even offer obedience or agility, and other campers compete extensively outside of 4-H. Most campers belong to clubs that do not use clicker training. However, all of the campers were enthusiastic about dogs, 4-H, and learning how to be a better dog trainer.
Tagging at camp
For several years, we have worked on ways to reinforce the teens attending the dog experience camp. After attending TAGteach seminars and working hard to strengthen our plans for camp learning, things went even better than we expected this summer.
By Marissa Marino
Volunteers are one of my favorite parts about working for animal welfare non-profits. The community that is generated for a single mission can sometimes be astounding. There are a variety of reasons why people engage in volunteer activities. Some people volunteer to give back to their community, others volunteer since they cannot have pets of their own and others hope to develop friendships along the way. One common thread I see is people longing to learn new things and expand themselves. So let’s give them what they want! My philosophy is to empower volunteers through education in order to develop a dedicated and helpful team for the staff as well as the animals.