Edclick

Edclicking

By Dr. Harry Tennant

Edclicking

by Harry Tennant
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Entries from January 2018
Posts 1 - 3 of 3

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Being proactive to prevent problem behavior - Rules

This series of posts comes from a paper, Responsibility, Motivation and Engagement: How To Develop Learners Using Behavior Manager. It describes how Edclick’s Behavior Manager combines three essential capabilities.

  1. Proactive PBIS tools to prevent student misbehavior
  2. Reactive interventions and processes for misbehaviors to minimize loss of instruction time and keep students in school
  3. Data and tools for continuous improvement

We can prevent problem behavior by teaching appropriate behavior. We organize and structure the classroom and the school so that students know how to succeed. Appropriate behavior is typically broken down into expectations, rules and procedures. This approach is foundational to Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which is widely advocated as the new direction in student behavior (see pbis.org).

Start by organizing and structuring the classroom so students know how to succeed.

Rules

While expectations are broad and general, rules are specific, observable behaviors that apply in specific places and activities. Expectations and rules tie together in a rule matrix.

Rule matrix

The rule matrix ties together the expectations, shown as column headings, to rules that apply to specific places and activities, shown as row headings.

Expections:

Be safe

Be responsible

Be respectful

Classroom

Keep hands and to yourself

Walk at all times

Be on time

Sit in your assigned seat with feet and chair on the floor

Have all materials ready

Enter quietly

Put belongings away when you enter the room

Keep your workspace clean and organized

Use materials for their intended use

Hallways

Walk

Keep hands and feet to yourself

Go directly to your destination

Quiet voice

Cafeteria

Clean up minor spills

Report major spills and slippery floors

Pick up items from table and floor

Place tray on kitchen window shelf

Use polite table manners

Use a talking voice

 

As with expectations, keep the number of rules that apply to a place or activity to a manageable 3 to 5. Teach them to the students and post them where appropriate. Review them prior to an activity until they become habitual. For example, if your class is about to walk through the hallway to another room, review the hallway rules. Your goal is to have the students succeed at obeying the rules, so a quick review can be helpful.

Your classroom will operate on many more than 5 rules, but for the sake of teaching, emphasize only a manageable number at any one time. After students have mastered a rule, remove it from the rule poster and replace it with another.

Positive consequences for adherence to rules

Probably the teacher’s most effective tool for teaching appropriate behavior is praise for students for following expectations. It might be specific praise, such as saying, “Thank you for raising your hand to speak, Judy.” Or it might be less specific like, “You have all done an excellent job of raising your hands during today’s discussion.” Praise can also be less explicit such as a wink, nod or thumbs up.

Recognition of desired behavior is especially important while students are learning the rules. It is far better to teach students to abide by the rules by first teaching the rules, then rewarding them for abiding by the rules than to teach rules only by catching infractions and applying penalties. 

Consequences for infractions

Consequences for rule infractions are important but they need not be negative. For example, if Judy is calling out answers rather than raising her hand to be called on, the teacher may say, “Judy, in this class students raise their hand and wait to be recognized before speaking.” When Judy then stops calling out and raises her hand, the teacher calls on her. Judy has been reminded of the rule, has been reinforced by being called on after raising her hand, and has not received any sort of punishment. But if she persists in calling out, a different consequence is needed.

Most activities in life have rules and the rules have consequences. In sports, the game must be played within a set of clearly defined rules. Violating a rule results in a penalty. Playing without violating the rules gives you the chance to win without the setbacks of penalties. In most cases, the penalties in sports relate to the violation. For example, in football, pass interference imposes the penalty of treating the play as if the pass was caught. The penalty relates to the offense. In basketball, fouling another player gives her a free throw. The penalty relates to the offense.

At their best, school rules work the same way. If a rule is violated, the student must be held accountable. A penalty may be imposed. It is best if the penalty relates to the infraction. For example, if homework isn’t handed in as required, the penalty may be detention where the homework is expected to be completed.

In class as in sports, it’s best to proceed without infractions and avoid the penalties that come as a result. Also, in class as in sports, the rules must be consistently enforced. If they aren’t, it sends the message that the rules aren’t important. Note that “consistently enforced” does not necessarily mean that every infraction by every student gets assigned the same penalty. Rather, it means that the teacher takes note of infractions. He doesn’t let them slide. He may choose to give a reminder in one instance and a detention in another when different circumstances require different responses. He shouldn’t act as though his rules are not important. If they aren’t seen as important to the teacher, they won’t be seen as important to the students.

Finally, in class as in sports, infractions should not be seen by the teacher or the student as retribution or punishment for an infraction. There should be no anger involved. It isn’t personal. Penalties are simply consequences of the infractions. By keeping students accountable without anger, the teacher avoids engendering resentment in the student.

The 5 to 1 ratio

In order to create a supportive climate, students should experience at least 5 positive interactions to each negative interaction. Some say 5:1, some say 4:1; the point is, significantly more positive interactions than negative interactions. The 5:1 ratio applies to individual students as well as to the class as a whole. In other words, some students should not get all the praise while other students get all the criticism.

Positive interactions include

  • Positive feedback that the student did something right (e.g., “Thanks for raising your hand…”) or
  • Positive interactions that do not depend on behavior such as greeting, hand shake, high five, smile or wink.

Negative interactions include

  • Behavior corrections or
  • Intentionally ignoring the student.

PBIS emphasizes that decisions be based on data. The 5:1 ratio should be measured. But you’ve got a class to teach. How will you keep track of the positive and negative interactions with students throughout the day?

How to track one-click merits with Behavior Manager

Behavior Manager includes the ability to track positive feedback for individual students. Merits can be defined and awarded for a variety of purposes. If your school uses a different name for positive feedback points, Behavior Manager can use your name instead.

Key: Minimize any distraction from instruction.

The key to a tool like this is making it useful with the absolute minimum amount of effort or distraction. Every minute that you’re using a tool like this is a minute of attention that is taken from instruction time. So it should be as effortless as possible. We figured that the theoretical minimum effort would be one tap, so that’s how it’s designed to work.

You can set up a page for your class with a set of color-coded behaviors that you want to recognize. Each student is listed with a set of color-coded checkboxes corresponding to the behaviors. If you wish to recognize student Christopher Allred for Teamwork, tap his yellow checkbox. The Merit will be automatically entered into the database. As you do, give Christopher a nod, wink, pat on the shoulder or verbal feedback to let him know you’ve recognized his good work. That’s it. One tap and you’re done.

The small horizontal bar below each name represents the number of merits that the student has been awarded. Be aware of students who are receiving merits. Make sure you spread recognition around the class fairly. Keep in mind that students with the most challenging behavior may be the ones that need positive feedback the most.

While you’re not likely to record every smile, wink or positive remark, you can collect data on positive and negative interactions.

Merits appear in each student’s behavior history along with misbehaviors. You can compare the merits to misbehaviors to judge your ratio.

Students can also get visual feedback from the merit Star Board. The Star Board is a page that can be projected showing the list of students with color-coded stars by their names, each indicating the category of merit that has been awarded. If you choose, the students’ names can be replaced by “secret identities” pseudonyms. Behavior Manager can randomly assign secret identities to students in a class based on plants, animals, birds, cities or vocabulary words.

Converting merits to rewards

Awarding merits to students for meeting expectations or obeying the rules is a form of recognition. Recognition for doing the right thing increases the likelihood that the student will continue to do the right thing.

Some schools prefer to make the reinforcement stronger by enabling students to earn rewards from accumulated merit points. Elementary students may earn a small toy. Teachers often hand out candy or other treats. Students may be allowed special privileges such as being able to sit in the teacher’s chair or be first in line for lunch. In higher grades, merits may be traded for access to activities or access to a special area in the cafeteria.

Earning rewards and privileges in exchange for desired behavior is fundamental in society. It is the basis for getting paid for doing a job. It is significant that a reward of this kind is something that is earned, not simply a gift from the teacher.

There is some controversy in schools over whether desired behavior should be traded for items or privileges. Just as adults usually stop working when they stop being paid, the concern is that students may stop behaving properly if the rewards stop. Ideally, reinforcement for desired behavior in schools should be teaching student to prefer proper behavior for its own benefits, not simply as a transaction.

Wherever you come down on the controversy about trading merits for rewards, if it is going to be done, there needs to be some accounting. A benefit of using online merits is that the accounting is easy.

How to exchange merits for rewards in Behavior Manager

Behavior Manager includes the merit reward ledger for teachers and schools who choose to offer rewards. Staff can define rewards and the number of merits required to earn each one.

Key: Avoid any additional burden on teachers to manually keep accounts for rewards.

Select a student and a dropdown menu is shown with all possible rewards. The ones for which the student has enough merits in her account are enabled for selection. Click one. The corresponding merits are “spent” and recorded. The student is given the reward. Any remaining merits are maintained in the merit balance, available for future use.

How students use smartphones in Behavior Manager

Most students in middle school and high school, and many in elementary school, have smartphones. The Behavior Manager app delivers information to students immediately on their phones, eliminating the need for paper in many cases. For example, some rewards can be specified as passes for privileges. A student may choose to trade merit points for the privilege of lining up at the front of the lunch line for three days. The reward will show in the app as shown below. When the reward expires, it will no longer appear in the app. Similarly, if a student is caught being tardy in the hall, the teacher can enter a tardy on her phone and a tardy pass will appear immediately on the student’s phone, allowing him to go directly to class, missing no more instruction time.

  

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Keywords: Responsible-Motivated-Engaged, Behavior Manager

 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Being proactive to prevent problem behavior - Expectations

This series of posts comes from a paper, Responsibility, Motivation and Engagement: How To Develop Learners Using Behavior Manager. It describes how Edclick’s Behavior Manager combines three essential capabilities.

  1. Proactive PBIS tools to prevent student misbehavior
  2. Reactive interventions and processes for misbehaviors to minimize loss of instruction time and keep students in school
  3. Data and tools for continuous improvement

We can prevent problem behavior by teaching appropriate behavior. We organize and structure the classroom and the school so that students know how to succeed. Appropriate behavior is typically broken down into expectations, rules and procedures. This approach is foundational to Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which is widely advocated as the new direction in student behavior (see pbis.org).

Start by organizing and structuring the classroom so students know how to succeed.

Expectations

In order to foster appropriate behavior in school, we start with a small set of expectations of how students ought to behave. We want to keep the set small so they can be easy to remember. Select no more than five expectations. The expectations should be stated positively to emphasize how students should behave rather than the negative, things which students should not do.

The KIPP schools use two primary expectations: Work Hard. Be Kind. Note that those two expectations can arguably cover both the academic issues and the social/behavior issues.

An even shorter “set” of expectations, a set of one, was suggested in Teaching with Love & Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk. The book describes a teacher stating her one expectation and her one consequence.

Expectation: You can solve a problem any way you want, provided it doesn’t cause a problem for anyone else…The only problem is that I’m a person in the class just like you, so we have to consider what would be a problem for me as well.

Consequence: I don’t expect you to break the rules. But if that does happen, I’ll do something.

Is “something” too vague? What’s really important is not that students know the exact consequences of misbehavior or that the consequence is the same every time. More important is that students know that there will be consequences and that the teacher will be consistent, doing something consistently.

Most schools go into a bit more detail. The small set of expectations (3 to 5) typically are selected from statements like these:

·         Be respectful

·         Respect yourself

·         Respect others

·         Respect property

·         Respect relationships

·         Respect responsibilities

·         Be safe

·         Be responsible

·         Be ready

·         Be prepared

·         Be involved

·         Be kind

·         Be patient

·         Value integrity

 

·         Be determined

·         Strive for excellence

·         Show compassion

·         Effort

·         Show courage

·         Persevere

·         Show leadership

·         Show caring

·         Take pride

·         Have a positive attitude

·         Make wise choices

·         Show self-control

·         Stay on task

 

These and other behaviors are desirable but there are clearly too many for a student to keep in mind. The Boy Scouts have a famous shorter list of desirable character traits that have been used for a long time. A scout is:

·         Trustworthy

·         Loyal

·         Helpful

·         Friendly

·         Courteous

·         Kind

 

·         Obedient

·         Cheerful

·         Thrifty

·         Brave

·         Clean

·         Reverent

 

But again, the list is too long to be easily remembered. Pick 3 to 5 expectations. A typical set is

·         Be safe

·         Be responsible

·         Be respectful

If you’re creating a set of schoolwide expectations, circulate your list and look for at least 80% acceptance among the faculty. We will discuss schoolwide expectations more later.

These expectations will be taught to the students as the first proactive step toward desired behavior in school. But of course, 3 to 5 expectations to cover everything that happens in school is not very specific. We get more specific with rules.

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Keywords: Responsible-Motivated-Engaged, Behavior Manager

 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Responsibility, Motivation and Engagement: How To Develop Learners Using Behavior Manager

This series of posts comes from a paper, Responsibility, Motivation and Engagement: How To Develop Learners Using Behavior Manager. It describes how Edclick’s Behavior Manager combines three essential capabilities.

  1. Proactive PBIS tools to prevent student misbehavior
  2. Reactive interventions and processes for misbehaviors to minimize loss of instruction time and keep students in school
  3. Data and tools for continuous improvement

Student behavior priorities

The purpose of this document is to discuss ways in which issues of student behavior are changing. We will discuss specific ways in which Edclick’s Behavior Manager embodies the most effective techniques.

Shared goal: student achievement

The ultimate goal of all of the activity in school is student achievement. Student achievement is primarily measured by the mastery of knowledge and skills of the various courses they take. But underlying student achievement are the enablers of knowledge and skill building, collectively known as student behavior.

Student achievement is the result of responsibility, motivation and engagement

Do students take responsibility for their learning?

Are they motivated to learn?

Are they engaged with the learning process?

Issues of student behavior have been going through a transformation over the past decade or so. Research has been accumulating that indicates that there are more effective means of influencing student behavior than the way it had been done. Prior to the transformation, the prevailing attitude was that it was up to the student to come to school ready and eager to learn. If the student was an uncooperative or disinterested partner in the learning process, then a mild punishment would get his or her attention and get him or her back on track in the classroom. This was primarily a reactive model, reacting to misbehavior and assigning negative consequences.

That attitude has fundamentally shifted to a proactive model. Schools and teachers now make known ahead of time their expectations, rules and procedures. They explicitly teach expectations of proper behavior to students in an effort to avoid misbehavior. The attitude today is that if students are not taking responsibility for their learning, if they don’t seem to be motivated to learn or if they are disengaged in class, it is now the responsibility of the school and the teachers to make the necessary changes to instill in the students the enablers for learning.

Why did this shift occur? Is success even possible? And most important for our purposes, how can it be done in practice?

In response to an increase in school violence in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a trend in schools to be less tolerant of misbehavior and to impose a series of strict escalating consequences. But research results showed that stricter reactive discipline wasn’t working. Reactive consequences for misbehavior, typically punishments, were effective for stopping the misbehavior in the short term, but it often resulted in resentment. Punishment did not result in long term change to greater student responsibility, motivation or engagement. Too often, it didn’t lead to improved student achievement. Educators needed a better way.

If you’re not in class, you won’t pass

It’s essential for student achievement to spend the time in school actually in class, engaged in learning. Suspension from school is obviously a loss of instructional time for the student. But there are others, too. If a student is disruptive in class and is sent to the office, she has missed instruction time. If a tardy student is directed to go to a tardy table or the office to get a tardy pass to return to class, the student has missed more instruction time.

The most egregious example that we often see of a student missing instructional time for misbehavior is a student who is often sent to the office for being tardy. The punishments for tardiness may be increased as the tardy count increases, to a point when the student is eventually suspended for chronic tardiness. Punish a tardy student who misses instruction time with a suspension that misses a great deal more instruction time? A different consequence needs to be found that does not increase the loss of instructional time.

Ideally, we want to make maximum use of instruction time for each student. In general, that means minimizing the time spent dealing with behavior issues. Typically the most effective way to minimize time spent on behavior issues is to deal with them proactively.

Maintain an environment conducive for learning

The flip side of a student missing class for misbehavior comes when she is disruptive and becomes a distraction from learning for the rest of the class. Sometimes instruction time for one student must be sacrificed so that the rest of the class can get back to work.

We want to maintain a classroom environment conducive to learning. Rather than reacting to misbehavior, we want to avoid misbehavior and keep students engaged in their learning.

Spend as little time on behavior as necessary…and no less!

Students don’t go to school to learn how to behave in school. They go to do two other things:

1.       Learn the curricular knowledge and skills and

2.       Learn how to learn, which is to say, taking responsibility for their learning, developing their motivation to learn and developing the skills of focus, concentration, questioning and cooperation to keep them engaged with their learning.

Some teachers are resistant to devoting any time to teaching behavior. A math teacher prefers to teach math, not behavior. And they are right in that the curricular learning is essential to student achievement. But at the same time, the student’s success in learning her math may be impeded by undeveloped social skills or by disregard for the rules and procedures of the classroom which are designed to keep the focus where it should be: on learning. Some time spent on these “behavior” issues can pay big dividends in curricular learning.

All students will misbehave sometimes. If the teacher hasn’t prepared for this, more time is likely to be spent on reacting to misbehaviors than would typically be spent teaching and practicing desirable behaviors before problems arise.

In addition, students vary in the time and effort required to master behavior skills. While most students will pick up behavior skills with a little instruction and practice, others will need more attention and a small number will require extensive help. The school needs to anticipate these differences and provide additional support for those who need a little more help and intensive support for a few more.

The main goal is curricular learning. But enough time must be spent on behavior issues to make the curricular learning as efficient and effective as possible. In addition, keep in mind that much of a student’s most important learning, even curricular learning, will be done after your course is over. So the better a student can develop his skills for learning, the more successful his overall education will be.

Fix the student or fix the system?

The traditional view of student behavior was that misbehavior was an indication that the student needed to be “fixed.” The problem was hers. She was not properly fitting into the school.

The new view of student behavior is that students should be taught what constitutes appropriate behavior. Misbehavior, when it still occurs, is an indication that there may be a problem with the school or the teaching. It isn’t the student that needs to be fixed, but the school. Positive and proactive behavior strategies have been found to be more effective and efficient than reactive, punitive strategies. In addition, it is generally easier to prevent a problem than to deal with it after it has appeared.

It starts with making expectations clear and creating rules and procedures that make it easy for students to satisfy the expectations. If the school and its procedures are properly designed and communicated to the students, then the student behavior will be conducive to learning.

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Keywords: Responsible-Motivated-Engaged, Behavior Manager

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