Behaviorism in Practice
My mother once said, “You don’t wake up and head off to a busy day at work without an incentive…called a paycheck”. What an incredibly true statement. It is human nature to perform better when there are positive reinforcements involved. If only we taught our students the way in which we learn or perform best ourselves.
As stated in Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, many of us attribute our success or failure to external factors. With conferences right around the corner, I am preparing myself once again to hear the majority of my parents play the blame game on all the external factors they can come up with attempting to explain why their child is struggling. When reading the variety of suggestions for reinforcing effort, I continuously pondered the thought of incorporating my parents into the process. A day does not go by that a parent writes a note explaining why they were unable to get homework completed. Understandably a couple of my parents struggle themselves academically, but others are providing the wrong message to their children. Many of my students lack perseverance due to the fact they feel as though they will never understand. I relate this to effort, which quickly creates a sense of frustration both among me and my students. I definitely would like to use an effort rubric with my students and their families. I have created rubrics before using a site I consider very user friendly; www.rubistar.com.
What I know from experience with my students as well as my own family is positive everything goes a lot further than negative anything. Again relating this topic to myself, I prefer to always be spoken to in a positive way, even if I am being constructively criticized. Behaviorism exists in everyday activities and definitely in the classroom. I am able to use technology to reinforce the skills I am teaching. Currently my students have created a waiting list a mile long to receive computer time to practice their multiplication facts. Just as any electronic game, kids get instant gratification from them. My students have been consistently using the computers for about three weeks now. By the end of March I will assess whether my students have instant recall of their facts. Throughout the year we have charted their progress on learning their multiplication facts. So far my students have simply not put in the extra effort to learn them and I reverted to punishment. Believe it or not; it’s not working! Since winter break I have held my class in every morning recess, yet only six students are able to pass the weekly quiz. Ashamed to say, yet again another teacher has fallen into bad habits even when we know better.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., &Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom
instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.