In my Oct. 12 blog, I referred to a TED talk by Rita Pierson entitled “Every Kid Needs A Champion” where she tells the story of a child in one of her classes who misses 18 out of 20 questions on a quiz. When she puts the grade on the quiz paper, she puts a +2 and a smiley face.

Recently in one of the workshops I was teaching, I had a new instructor test this out on her own adopted child who has special needs. Her son, who is in middle school, is regularly being removed from the classroom for making noises and being disruptive. He has a behavior plan that breaks his day into 18 assessment periods where he receives a 0, 1, or 2 for each period. Typically, he receives only a few 2s (the best rating) each day, and he is required to bring his point sheet home each evening for his parents to see.

When the new instructor arrived at the workshop Thursday morning, she stated that the night before instead of focusing on all the 0s that were on her son’s point sheet like she normally does, she praised him for the one 2 that he had received. She said that he, and her husband, looked at her weird when she went to give him a high five for receiving the 2. She told the other workshop participants that she didn’t believe that it would make a difference. All of us in the class were interested to see how this little experiment would play out. On Friday morning when the new instructor came to class, she reported that her son had come home with twelve 2s on his point sheet and that he did not have to be removed from class at all on Thursday.

Was this a fluke? Maybe, but isn’t it at least worth try?

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt Faculty