Response Cost

    You may already be using it (hopefully in conjunction with lots of positive interventions) without knowing what it's called by behaviorists(those who advocate for applied behavior analysis).  Essentially it's a "toll" or "fine" imposed in response to the student's display of "bad" behavior.  A penalty is assessed for his/her having shown inappropriate behavior.

    For example, if you were to take away a  point/token/raison/raffle ticket/candy piece  away from a youngster's collection because of a rude remark or failure to stay on task, that would be response cost (a cost that is imposed for that response).

     Of course, we should first be asking ourselves why we would take a token away from a kid instead of just withholding the next token for not having earned it.  Think of it: What if your principal discovered that you called in sick on Friday when you were really skiing at the local resort or going shopping (a "mental health day"...I never took a sick day unless I was well enough to enjoy it.  Otherwise, I was in there coughing and gagging over my students.  However, I used up all of my "sick days" so then I had to call in dead).  You might not object to the district refusing to pay you for Friday, but you'd sure consider it to be unfair if they took away Thursday's pay too.  You earned it!  And if you've implemented the kind of behavior management system that gives students tokens/points when they enter the room and then takes them away as they misbehave, you REALLYought to question that practice.  Think of it: kids get something for having done absolutely nothing.  Then you give them attention when they misbehave.  This is a set-up for failure and conflict.  We should be catching kids being good, not just pointing out when they fall short of goals.  Also, what will you do when you've taken away all of the items...Have him/her owe you tokens tomorrow?  How will you reclaim that raison/candy piece that you gave as a reward when it's already been eaten?

    It's always best to have kids earn points (and be denied more if they misbehave...with accompanying encouragement in which you state your belief that they can do better), rather than giving them points for having done nothing (and then removing them when kids misbehave).

    "Step wise" or "staircase" behavior management systems are also examples of "response cost".  In these plans, there is a list of consequences with each step being more puunitive/punishing than the previous.  Each implemented penalty is a "cost" for the "response" of the student.  Below you'll find two versions of this cascading system.  One is for elementary schools (with a recess period) and one is for secondary level schools (in which kids have 5 minutes between classes to travel to their next classroom).

 Elementary                                                                    Secondary
Formal warning/reminder                                             Formal warning/reminder
Loss of 5 min. of recess                                               20 sec. of hallway passing (after warning)
Loss of 10 min. of recess                                             1 min. of hallway passing
Loss of 20 min. of recess                                             2 min. of hallway passing
Loss of all of recess                                                     3 min. of hallway passing
Telephone call to home                                                Referral to office

    One suggestion:  Don't use the consequences as a threat against the youngster (You're better than the youngster to behave better).    Instead, encourage compliance. (That is what you want to achieve, right?)    Instead of saying  "You better behave or I'll take your points away.", say "I'd like to see hands kept to self so that everyone can keep their points."  Or just use a "short statement" (see the link on "Nice things to try before...") like "Hands."

    That's it for now.  You'd better start implementing effective techniques right now or you're gonna lose your what's left of your professional pride and self concept.  Oops.  I'd like to see you use positive and effective interventions now so that you can keep your teaching pride and even improve your professional self concept.

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