Friday, March 27, 2009

Positive Reinforcements with a Twist!

written by: Mitch Zeltzer

You just never know where your greatest lessons are going to come from. More often then not, I find myself learning amazing skills when I least expect it! Here's a great example of how I learned a new way to use Positive Reinforcements:

I should warn you that I have forgotten many of the details of this story, but the important stuff stuck, and I think it's valuable enough to share with you.

It was over five years ago, I was at a school in Rosemere, Quebec (approx. 25 minutes north of Montreal). I was there to run a workshop, to promote the importance of fair play and good sportsmanship, for their Grade 3-4 students. We were scheduled to use the gymnasium for our workshop. When I arrived at the school the Phys. Ed. teacher (I wish I could remember his name to give him full credit!) was still in the gym finishing things up with his Kindergarten class, he was teaching them how to do cartwheels. So I stayed off to the side of the gym and began setting up my equipment for the afternoon.

When I was finished setting up my equipment, I sat on a bench waiting while the Phys Ed teacher finished off the last 10 minutes of his class. This is when I saw something great! At this point, the teacher had all the children come sit in a circle in the center of the gym and said: "Now we are going to have the chance to see some of you do some excellent cartwheels for us." Ok, this is normal, but stay tuned, this is where the magic happened. He continued: "Did anyone see someone else do an excellent cartwheel and want to ask them to show the class their fantastic cartwheel?"

How great is that?! Instead of asking for volunteers he asked for his students to recognize and nominate their peers for their tremendous efforts/accomplishments/abilities. It's so simple, it takes no time out of your day, but in the end it has a huge impact on the children. Instead of asking for volunteers and giving an insincere round of applause as a class, this clever teacher found a way to get his youngsters to give each other positive reinforcements. Incredibly positive and unbelievably effective!

I was just setting up equipment, I never imagined that I would leave that gym with a new skill that I would have for life. This happened over 5 years ago and I still use this technique to date. Keep your antennas up and always be on the lookout for your lessons.

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