The Value of School-Wide Positive Behavior Reinforcement
As a Hero Customer Success Manager, I see schools using a variety of different strategies to track and reward positive behavior, including some reinforcement techniques that I used myself when I was a teacher.
The schools I visit are in different phases. Some are piloting Hero, others are using Hero in certain areas of their school, and some have not quite gone live with their Positive Behavior Reinforcement programs. But one thing is consistent—without a digital School Wide Positive Behavior Reinforcement program in place, schools struggle to collaborate across grade levels and departments, offering little to no consistency for students. The behaviors that teachers identify and reinforce are usually varied, and students have different standards they need to meet depending on whose class they are in. Often times, these benchmarks don’t line up with administrative initiatives and school standards—they are chosen because they are important for that individual classroom teacher.
Without School Wide Positive Behavior Reinforcement, incentives are on a class-by-class basis, with some teachers offering more incentives than others, and some giving out more coveted prizes to their students. With tallies, tickets, and tokens (oh my!), teachers need to constantly and manually keep track of how their students are performing. When it comes time for redeeming these for incentives, teachers often spend their own money for prizes—bought from websites or dollar stores—in hopes that their students will respond enthusiastically and be motivated. As busy as teachers are, and with all the time they put in to planning and teaching, many lose track of their incentive programs throughout the year, or find themselves out of ideas.
Incorporating positive behavior in the classroom as part of a school’s overall Positive Behavior Reinforcement plan allows for maximum impact and offers a consistent message to students: If you behave in a positive way everywhere on campus, you will be rewarded. This means that behaviors are reinforced routinely across the school, especially where students spend most of their time—in the classroom.
Teachers, administrators and students can effectively collaborate to ensure that they are targeting specific positive behaviors that will make a difference across the entire campus. When students show one of the identified target behaviors, documenting that behavior is easy. The teacher walks to his or her computer or interactive whiteboard, clicks on students’ names, and rewards them with points to be redeemed for school-wide incentives. There are no tallies, spreadsheets, tickets, or tokens to keep track of. Teachers can continue making the most of their time, educating their students.
When students are “tracked”, they can instantly see their total points, keeping them aware of how many they have received from all of their teachers. This is important, as students crave immediate feedback, and can quickly associate the behavior they’ve displayed with the points they earned, eventually making these behaviors a habit. Additionally, points are individualized by student, and the student does not need to depend on the behavior of his or her peers.
When it is time to “cash in” points, incentives are now school-wide, allowing for larger-scale student prizes. These might include access to a VIP lounge, various prizes from a school store, field trips, and other creative ideas. Teachers just run the report, view student points, and move on. No more manual tracking. Hero Reports enable teachers to see how many points students have received across the entire campus, not just in their classroom. It also helps them keep track of whom they are rewarding the most, and inversely, who many need additional guidance. The increased visibility allows for more accurate data and easier cross-campus collaboration, especially when students are on a behavior plan or when teachers conduct joint parent conferences.
With Hero in the classroom, positive behavior tracking becomes easier, more effective, and more efficient for teachers. It enables them to keep track of each of their students easily while offering large, school-wide, motivating incentives that students can look forward to.
If you are interested in evaluating or changing how your school uses Hero next year and want to roll the program out in the classroom, here are some of my tips and topics to consider in preparation for next year.
What behaviors would you like to target? Are there any undesirable behaviors you’ve witnessed on campus? Use the opposite of that behavior to reinforce students when they show desired behaviors.
This will enable you to get a variety of perspectives regarding what will work for your school. Administrators can provide a whole-school point of view, teachers can discuss what is happening in their own classrooms, and students can address their thoughts regarding behaviors and incentives.
How many will you have? It’s important to start small, so that teachers and students are not overwhelmed with a large amount of behaviors to track. Behaviors that are familiar to students and teachers work well, too. If the school currently uses an acronym or specific behavior guidelines that most people know, these are great to track in Hero.
Just like adults, the students need to know what they are working for. Starting out your program with stated incentives gives the students a goal that they know they are working towards. Remember to incentivize teachers, as well. Positive Behavior Reinforcement works for adults, too!
Think of ways to inform students, parents, and faculty that Hero is coming. This can include letters, assemblies, and teacher meetings. Set up Parent and Student Engagement and distribute the information in various ways, including letters home and parent and student meetings. Create bulletin boards and plan the types of announcements you’ll display, such as top teachers and students, the behaviors the school is rewarding, how many points behaviors are worth, and incentives offered.
If you would like more information on rolling out Hero in your classrooms or would like help with a new Hero feature, please contact your Customer Success Manager.