The tip is called "token economy" and it comes up around the 45th minute of the documentary. "Token economy" has roots in what psychologists call conditioning and it's a form of immediate positive reinforcement of desirable behavior or in plain words: whenever a student does something well they get an object which has no value unto itself, but represents a currency through which a reward is attained. So, if you want a student who cannot keep quiet to learn how to raise their hand and wait for their turn, whenever they quietly raise their hand you give them a token, whenever they remain quiet with their hand up while you're speaking to another student they get a token, whenever they give a relevant answer after you call their name they get a token. The student receives a token for everything they do well, as small as it is, and they MUST receive a token immediately.
|Think well before you use anything edible for a token. |
There's a possibility they might disappear before being counted.
Tokens can be anything: marbles, stars, stamps, bottle caps, pencils, stones, sequins, buttons, pieces of cloth/string, paperclips, stickers, rubber bands, anything made of cardboard (stars, suns, flowers, birds, lions, faeries...)... I think you get the point. The aim is for the student to collect as many as possible in a given period of time - e.g. a lesson. I repeat - they MUST receive a token for EVERYTHING they do well, as small as it is, IMMEDIATELY. And a deal must be made:
If the student collects X tokens, the teacher will ________ .
This is where you need to think about your student and figure out what is important to them. If nothing comes to mind do what I did - Ask them "Who should I tell when you're being good?". Chances are they know exactly who you should call, so follow through. You MUST FOLLOW THROUGH.
But be flexible the first time you start doing this. I tried the recipe from the documentary and set an objective of 50 tokens in a 45-minute lesson. The student only collected 35, but behavior change was so dramatic, I followed through with the deal nonetheless. As I said, smiles all around ensued.
The trick is in the fact that tokens focus us, teachers, students and parents on students' strengths and abilities and help us overcome the difficult bits and reduce difficulties into bits, wherever and whenever possible. And as I said, smiles all around ensue.
I'll confess having reservations about all of this at first, but I decided to give it a go because something had to be done. It did not magically change everything for the better, nor did it magically cure ADHD, but it gave a strong positive note to my lessons.
So be brave and persist.
Finally, keep your antennae on alert whatever you do, because you never know when and where you might come across a brilliant idea.
When you get one, pass it on.
Love to all,
For those interested in research on token economy, click on the titles to go visit:
Wikipedia - to start off.
R.P. Liberman: The token economy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2000
G. LeBlanc: Enhancing intrinsic motivation through the use of a token economy. Essays in Education, 2004, 11.
K. Zlomke & L. Zlomke: Token economy plus self-monitoring to reduce disruptive classroom behaviors. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2003, 4, 177-182.