Moments Like These Matter
A Middle School Behavioral Modification System
OPPORTUNITY: In the fall of 2008, Fran Kick was approached by a teacher to help create a positive and constructive way for teachers to reinforce more of the good things happening at their middle school. The existing “referral system” had been in place for years, yet only focused on negative behavior.
RESULTS: Rather than creating “a carrot to the current stick,” the pilot program proposed to engage teachers, staff, students and parents in a unique approach designed to increase positive communication while developmentally building more self-discipline and self-motivation (i.e. more intrinsic motivation). Teachers and parents were interviewed with three ideas presented to the administration, the teaching staff and the PTO. The pilot program ran for the first year, with every faculty and support staff member being given (50) copies of the ticket/postcard. After an initial period of getting used to the system, several interesting things occurred. At first some students began expecting to be rewarded for their behavior, asking teachers for a ‘moments matter’ card. Soon, the students and teachers realized that only authentic, above and beyond, behaviors were given tickets. A nice balance of positive to constructive interactions became the norm during the second year.
The combination post card/ticket was a strong idea, that resonated with the faculty. Being able to jot down a few sentences, drop the card in the office and have it mailed out to parents was a great way to easily get multiple points of positive contact in a friendly easy-to-use product. Many introverted students really appreciated the quiet ‘at a boy’ nature of the system.
NOTE: After a few years, the extrinsic reward part of the ticket (i.e. lottery drawing of coupons/tickets for prizes) was dropped completely.
Fran Kick collaborated with middle school faculty, administration, and PTO parents to pilot a creative “anti-referral” behavioral modification program for grades six, seven, and eight. The approach was inspired in part by Donald Clifton and Tom Rath’s book How Full Is Your Bucket? while balanced by the work of Alfie Kohn author of Punished by Rewards.