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Chapter 1: Why We Are Stuck on Rewards and Punishments

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 1

Why We Are Stuck on Rewards and Punishments

The farther backward you can look the farther forward you are likely to see.

Winston Churchill

Teachers tend to limit themselves to using rewards and punishments to help students change their behavior. There are a few reasons for these self-imposed limitations, each with its own rationale.

Roles and Responsibilities

Some teachers believe it is not their job to teach their students to behave. They believe that they teach academic content and that parents teach appropriate behavior. They see their role in relationship to student behavior as limited to rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior so that academic instruction may occur uninterrupted. My response to these teachers is that they are dead wrong. If they do not examine their beliefs about student behavior, they will never accept the responsibility they have to their students (and to society) to actively participate with their students’ parents to mold competent individuals and responsible citizens. You know your job is much more than teaching the ABCs and the 123s, or you would never have purchased this book.

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Part I: Getting Started

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

 

Discipline is not a simple device for securing superficial peace in the classroom; it is the morality of the classroom as a small society.

—Émile Durkheim, French sociologist

 

Chapter 1

Classroom Communities

In today’s world, we can no longer view schools as a kind of factory designed to mold students into a one-size-fits-all shape. Technology and a global community are transforming our society into one in which information has become the means of survival. Through school, television, and the Internet, we are often in contact with people outside of our own culture who may or may not share our values and with whom we may be expected to work. As our society changes, the goal of education must change along with it. We have a responsibility to prepare students for life in this ever-changing landscape. We can do this by teaching them skills of collaboration and providing a safe place in which they can make sense of their expanding roles.

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Part II: Activities

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

The most important observation you can make is when you become a glimmer in the child’s eyes and he becomes a glimmer in yours.

—Albert E. Trieschman, American educator, psychologist, and writer

 

Chapter 5

Getting Acquainted

The challenges and activities in this chapter are designed to help you get to know your students and to help your students get to know each other. Most teachers understand the importance of getting to know their students and make a conscious effort to do so. Some plan specific activities and set aside designated times to make sure this happens. Others do it a little less formally, but they do it all the same.

Far fewer teachers understand the tremendous importance of helping their students get to know each other. Fewer still actually schedule activities and set aside time to encourage students to build relationships with each other.

While it is entirely possible to teach a class of students who do not know each other, it can be much more effective and much more enjoyable to teach a class of students who have built relationships with each other. Whether they know it or not, most teachers (ourselves included) have suffered the following effects of teaching in a classroom where the students are unfamiliar with each other:

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Chapter 3: Core Beliefs to Guide Implementation

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 3

Core Beliefs to Guide Implementation

The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.

Marcel Proust

This chapter presents 10 beliefs or assumptions that are important to anyone engaged in helping a student change his or her behavior. Individuals and teams involved in the process of developing behavior change plans are encouraged to review these beliefs periodically. Doing so will help ensure the quality of the plans and the student’s potential for success.

Belief One: Human Behavior Is Complex

Human behavior is a complex phenomenon that cannot be adequately explained by behaviorist theory, as we have seen in chapter 2. Instead, human behavior is best explained by constructs of social cognitive theory that describe a reciprocal relationship between environmental variables, personal variables, and the behavior itself. Human beings are both participants and observers to their own behavior. As such, perceived feedback is an important variable to consider when attempting to understand the function of a behavior, and ultimately when helping an individual change his or her behavior. For example, a student struggling to learn to control his anger may perceive himself and his plan as a failure because he has not been successful 100% of the time. The team points out to the student that he has been able to control his anger 100% of the time in three of five specific settings. After praising the student’s effort, the team engages the student in designing plan adjustments for the remaining problem settings.

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Chapter 2: A Practitioner’s Guide to Understanding Human Behavior

Ambrose Panico Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 2

A Practitioner’s Guide to Understanding Human Behavior

The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of.

Blaise Pascal

Some theorists, such as B. F. Skinner, John B. Watson, and Edward Thorndike, maintain that all behavior is a function of the interaction between the behavior and the environment. These theorists reject the notion that behavior is influenced and possibly controlled by theoretical constructs (such as the mind, the self, and the individual will). This definition of behavior (put forward primarily by behaviorists) is extremely limiting to teachers, school psychologists, school social workers, speech pathologists, and building principals who are working with students capable of communicating through speech.

The practitioner is much better informed by the definition of behavior offered by social cognitive theorists such as Albert Bandura. His theory of reciprocal determinism is extremely informative to a practitioner interested in a better understanding of how their students’ behavior is formed and maintained (Bandura, 1974, 1977). In Bandura’s understanding, human behavior is “the result of reciprocal influences between the personal variables (internal) of the individual, the environment (external) in which the behavior occurs, and the behavior itself” (Kaplan, 2000, p. 3). These internal, personal variables include:

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