I remember my first phone interview when looking for my first classroom teaching position. The interviewer asked what is the most important thing I have learned working with students with autism. My response was “motivation is key.” —- The interviewer wanted to hire me right then and there.
Why do we go to work? Most of you would say “to earn a paycheck.” Well, it is the same thing for our kids. We cannot expect them to do their best or perform a new skill if they are not being rewarded for their work. The key to any successful behavior plan (other than the function of the behavior) or classroom management plan is to have a positive reinforcement system in place. The reinforcement must be motivating to each individual.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- What you THINK is motivating to your student, may not actually motivate them
- reinforcers can lose its effect and change every month, every week, every day, or even every hour
- if a behavior plan is not working, look at the reinforcers before “throwing in the towel.”
- think outside of the box when looking for a motivator
My last piece of advice for you is to use to conduct a formal preference assessment for each of your students. I know I am always surprised about the results! Preference assessments can be informal like an interview with the parent or student, or can be formal like a paired stimulus preference assessment. I like the paired stimulus preference assessment because you choose 6 items and introduce them to the student in pairs. The student is asked to pick which item they want and you record their response on a data sheet. After all the trials are complete, you can analyze which items they chose the most frequently. I like this paired stimulus assessment data sheet below. It is from Vanderbilt University.
Let me know in the comments some of the strangest things your students have worked for! 🙂