Positive Behavior Intervention Systems and what you’re doing wrong

We all know that positive reinforcement is the BEST way to motivate and engage students at any level. At the elementary school level it is extremely effective for a teacher to allocate points to students in their class room and grant them the ability to trade in their points for small prizes like candy or toys. As students grow older and begin to move from classroom to classroom this method becomes a bit more disjointed, and once they’ve reached high school they are even less interested in the potential prizes that are being offered.

So if positive reinforcement is in fact the best method, how do we implement it in a way that actually works? There are two factors to creating a PBIS that functions at a middle and high school level. 

  1. Fairness
  2. Social Recognition

So what does this mean? Where does fairness play a role in positive reinforcement and rewards? What we see when teachers hand out tickets and points to individuals is that there is a discrepancy between what each teacher decides “merits” a “ticket” and what volume each teacher is giving out. Some educators might decide that every time a student is on time for class they receive a ticket, and others might hand out 1 at the beginning of the semester and forget about the program altogether after the first week. This leads to lack of student motivation and effort on the basis of equality. Students who never cross paths with the generous ticket giver will feel discouraged and quit trying altogether, whereas other students who frequently cross paths with enthusiastic educators will have a lower bar in order to achieve a ticket. 

The second factor in a successful PBIS at a young adult level is social recognition. Don’t get us wrong, all students love trading in points for fun prizes, but studies show that as our brains mature we move away from selfish and personal wants, and toward peer recognition. 

How can Minga help implement fairness and social recognition at our school? When using the Minga app that all students have access to they can earn points by participating in polls, engaging in challenges, and attending events. Select teachers can even manually assign students points. This keeps track of exactly who gives out points and for what. The peer recognition aspect is demonstrated in our leaderboard. Each student can see exactly who is in the lead for the most points, which creates a healthy competition. To spice things up even more, check out our last blog post that talks about creating teams that earn points collectively which helps students practice collaboration.

If you haven’t already check out our Instagram and Twitter for more fun information about student engagement and the Minga platform.

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