I am not going to lie to you but this intervention is kind of like waving a magic wand. I pull this game out of my ABA bag-o-tricks for group behavior management. When I first heard of this game from a professor in grad school, I was not initially won over at the prospects. It seemed okay and I figured I’d give it a shot. Holy crap was I surprised! Something about the combination of competition and group consequences hits a nerve. My kids snap to attention when I bust this puppy out. For serious. Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes!
Kids vs. Teachers is based on the Good Behavior Game which is an empirically validated behavior management technique (Barrish, Sauders & Wolf, 1969). So when you are asked if you are using evidence based practices – heck yea you are. See more research on this approach here.
Identify the Rules
Make a list of rules. Make sure the rules are clearly defined and state what you should be doing instead of just want you shouldn’t be doing. Write them on the board. You can target a wide range of rules. Identify the common issues your classroom is having and base the rules off of that. You can also target social skills – ie. being a good friend and not bugging your friend. Make sure to full define these rules. State some examples and non-examples, model, and use visuals so all students understand. Set an end time to the game so the group knows when the game is over.
When kids are following the rules, the kids team gets a point. When the kids are not following the rules – the teacher gets a point. Make sure your feedback is specific and add in praise while delivering points to students. If you provide corrective feedback, remind the student what they should be doing instead.
End the Game
At the end of the designated time period – the winner can earn some special privilege. Teacher winning would mean kids lose out on the special treat. However, you don’t necessary need to use an external reinforcer. Often times the reinforcement of “beating the teacher” is enough.
Tips & Variations:
- In the Good Behavior Game – you break the students into two groups and they compete against each other. You can also use this variation. The GBG also gives points as a consequence for not following the rules. Teams with less than a specified amount of points earn a privilege. For me, many students I have worked with have a learning history that involves token economies and associate points as reinforcers. I want to keep that consistent and use points for positive behaviors (following rule).
- The first few times you play – make sure they win! You will get immediate buy in. If they don’t access the reinforcer or winning they may not be into it the next time you play.
- When the kids get a point for following the rules, make sure to comment on what the person is doing that earned the point. This will help further reinforcer this desired behavior. ie: I love how Andrew is taking turns so nicely with Grace.
- Get into it! If you aren’t – they won’t be!
- Keep the scoreboard on the board and copy down to a data sheet. Instant frequency count of the group behavior.
I know, I know, I know – it sounds too simple and too good to be true. I thought so too and now I am a believer. This game is the bomb and has this instant and powerful effect that is nothing short of inexplicable magic.
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