Using your reinforcers effectivly in special education will help your classroom run smoother and your teaching more effective. Reinforcers keeps students interest while helping you establish instructional control.
Reinforcers can be very powerful when used effectively. They can help staff develop instructional control, give students motivation and shape instruction.
Why Use Reinforcers?
You Have Reinforcers… Now What?
We use a token system in my classroom. Currently, all of my students are on 5 penny (tokens) strips. At the end of each half hour period my students have to “cash in.” If students have 5 pennies they gain access to the reinforcer cart. If not, we talk about why and what needs to happen during the next period in order to get all 5 pennies. Read more about this system: Using A Token Economy System.
Make Reinforcers Powerful
- Make sure that students only get the reinforcer by earning it. Depending on the reinforcer & student, you might need to work with the family to make sure that the student isn’t getting it for free at home.
- Don’t use the reinforcer for everything. For example, if the computer is the thing Ben wants the most, then I would only use that to reinforce new or challenging tasks. If I allow it to be used as the reinforcer all the time, his desire for the computer might die out. If I use it sparingly, it will become even more powerful.
- Pair yourself with the reinforcer. If you are giving the reinforcer to the student and then walking away, you aren’t taking advantage of an opportunity to strengthen your bond and instructional control. Make teh reinforcer even better by being there. For example, if Ben’s reinforcer is a ball, play ball with him. If it’s cars play cars with him. Make the toy even more fun by being animated and silly.
Want more information? Check out this BLAB session:
If you use reinforcers to their best advantage, you can shape students’ behaviors and learning more effectively. Let me know how it goes in your classroom!