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Behaviour – don’t mix up negative reinforcement with punishment

Behaviour in class

Skinner’s operant conditioning – positive and negative reinforcement – comes into play in many areas of our lives. Often without us even realising it!

Negative reinforcement is behaviour which is strengthened by stopping, removing or avoiding an undesirable or unfavourable outcome.

But to make this work in your classroom, consistency is the key. Recognise your own behaviour, do you sometimes negatively reinforce?

What’s the difference between punishment and negative reinforcement?
One mistake is when you confuse negative reinforcement with punishment. I’ve had many conversations with teachers who say they are ‘powerless’ because detentions and sanctions don’t always work.  But this is punishment, NOT negative reinforcement.

Negative reinforcement has several strands. It can involve a negative situation which strengthens a behaviour, or it might be that you pre-empt a negative by putting a plan in place to reduce the impact of...

Training resources. Shall we or shan’t we?

I’m not often irritated by other people’s opinions, but if they create a place or learning environment where their obscured beliefs are not 'inclusive', I must admit to feeling rather irked.

An example of this is where teachers or trainers exclaim proudly that they don’t (in their words) provide “death by powerpoint”.  Fair enough.  But by avoiding use of visual interpretation of the spoken word, they are excluding a good few attendees at their sessions.

Now, I’ve been to many a few CPD events where I can’t read what’s on the slides (because the font is too small) and the person just reads it out to me anyway.

This is unacceptable practice and of course is the death knell for anyone, let alone when you’re working with a room full of educators and support staff.

Which, I guess, is why some trainers avoid powerpoint altogether??

But if there isn't any copy, am I expected to remember what's been...

LSA and Teacher – co-operation or ?

I read the blog from Joe Baldwin “Together not Against. The Teacher / LSA Synergy” and can totally relate to his position.  I realise that this is an emotive subject, and one where feathers may be ruffled or opposing opinions are given.

The ‘them –v- us’ is not a new phenomenon, in fact I can’t remember a time in my career when that divide didn’t exist in some way. Sometimes this is due to the low esteem of the LSA, due perhaps to a lack of training as a ‘professional’.  (I should add here that I have line-managed teams of LSAs which I hope clarifies my opinions.)

For many years the role of classroom assistant was filled by well-meaning mums or people who liked to give something back. All of these are excellent credentials, and I realise that this is far from the reality in...

Did Shakespeare first notice ADHD?

Is ADHD a 21st Century phenomenon?

A lot of people I meet ask me why ADHD wasn’t around when they were at school (pre 1985).

My answer to that is that it WAS around, it’s just that probably it wasn’t in our ‘non-inclusive’ classrooms.

Shakespeare

The first reference to ADHD could be in 1613, in Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII, where he mentioned what he called a "malady of attention."

ADHDFollowing this, a character affectionately called Fidgety Philip was created within a collection of children's poems, written by the German doctor Heinrich Hoffmann in the mid 1800s.  Fidgety Phil was a little boy who won't sit still at dinner and – obviously – fidgets constantly.  Another of Dr Hoffmann's book characters was "Johnny Head-in-Air" due to his day-dreamy inattention.  These characteristics were drawn from Dr Hoffman's observations when working with children in his professional practice.

Later, in...

Male. Female. LGBT

In recent years I have become only slightly encouraged by the slow increase of recruitment of staff with LGBT responsibilities in 16 - 18 education establishments.  In most cases this person has a student union or student services function in addition to other responsibilities but they are given LGBT training and counselling/mentoring skills which are sorely needed in that environment.

And it is with a heavy heart that I’ll tell you why.

LGBTApproximately 7 or 8 years ago when I was working in a general FE college managing the Behavioural and Additional Learning Support department, I was approach by a worried parent in July, telling me that her 16-year-old son **Mark was coming to college to enrol in September, and that Mark was currently transitioning from being her daughter to her son.

Mum was looking for reassurance that the college could put together the right...

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