Behavioral vaccines are “irreducible units of behavior-change technology, and they can be put together into behavioral vaccines (daily practices) with powerful longitudinal prevention results.” Most people call a behavioral vaccine cultural practices that have been adopted because of an interlocking series of self-sustaining consequences. They are immediately discernable and can be imitated quickly. They produce immediate results—typically positive reinforcement from others, escape from social approbation, and/or other advantages. Using good manners—a cultural practice that social scientists might call “social skills”—typically evokes many layers of reinforcement or advantage in many settings.” Following is a list of behavioral vaccines or practices that have proven effective by multiple social scientists. They are presented below as examples of simple things—gifts—if you will that can become part of the cultural fabric and climate of the school.
Arrive at School
- School property should be respected
- I am glad to see you this morning
- The bus driver has authority, and deserves your respect
- Everyone deserves respect, including YOU
- You are safe here
- Post safety and good manner rules on the bus
- Train bus drivers on practices and procedures for promoting good manners and safety rules
- Post greeters at the school entrances to welcome students by name
- It’s a great new day to learn
- This is a great place to learn
- You are a good student
- Everyone gets a fair chance
- Learning is fun
- Everyone plays a meaningful role in our community of learners
- You are safe here
- Have the person doing the announcements use a welcoming, enthusiastic, and positive tone
- Ensure that announcements are organized and relevant
- Allow students to take part in announcements like classes taking turns leading the Pledge of Allegiance
- Promote school spirit building activities like “wear school colors days”
Setting up A Child's Day
- This is a new day.
- This is our micro-community with rules and expectations for appropriate behavior.
- You play an important role in our community.
- Everyone needs to eat!
- Everyone needs to have fun!
- Everyone has the right to learn!
- You can always ask for help.
- You are safe here.
- Phrase positively and post classroom safety, participation, and good manners rules in each classroom and encourage all staff including teachers, sub teachers, parent helpers, assistants to follow them as well
- Give students specific tasks like line leaders and teacher’s assistants for a week, and have input in some decisions that affect what happens in the classroom
- Create consistently followed procedures for lunch counts and use students where possible in following the procedures
- Create classroom layouts where the teacher desk position conveys the openness of the teacher for questions and help
- Discourage practices like serving the teachers coffee/tea in the morning that might send an exclusive message to students
- I can learn, and if I need help, I’ll ask the teacher or a friend.
- I like to do well in school.
- I can help my classmates if they need it.
- I can follow the rules with respect.
- Use a team-based response-cost protocol for groups of children that rewards inhibition of inattentive, disruptive, and aggressive/bullying. Documented in approximately 30 studies to reduce short-term and long-term behavior problems as well as DSM-IV ADHD, and conduct problems, special-education placement plus substance abuse/initiation. Can be implemented from simple presentations or manuals.
- Use class-wide peer tutoring, a team-based classroom procedure involving rapid-aced learning for spelling/vocabulary, math, & reading that improves behavior, increases standardized achievement, and reduces special-education placement. CWPT uses multiple behavioral vaccines. Class is split into teams. Teams are split into pairs who work together 3-4 times a week on rapid-fire practice. Points are calculated, announced, and posted, followed by some recognition and occasional team reward. CWPT can be implemented from simple presentations or manuals, producing observable gains in a week.
- Incorporate special play into the day by using 15 minutes with simple things (blocks, buttons, pipe cleaners, scraps, junk) in which an adult follows the lead of the child. Improves warmth and compliance while reducing aggression and agitation.
- Use response cost, a method for removal of token, money, or privilege for misbehavior w/o emotional displays. Works as well as stimulant medication for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Easily adapted at home.
- Use mystery motivators as random rewards using simple, lottery-like system for behaviors. Very powerful in changing child behaviors at home & school, parent behavior, and work-related behaviors.
- Provide responsible roles to all children in the classroom school, or home, which increases pro-social behaviors, instructional time, and achievement, and provides positive adult and peer reinforcement and recognition.
- Use response cards/slates, which are true and false, multiple choice, open response, etc. Cards/slates substantially improve participation, reduce disruptions, raise weekly tests scores, improve standardized achievement, allow for more feedback, praise, and recognition. Can be used at home too.
- Use “beat the timer” with small timers to signal allocated time on task. They have powerful effects for reducing negative behaviors.
Transitions Between Rooms
- We can be quiet and respectful of other classrooms.
- We can stay in line as directed.
- We can go through the halls to our destination without play, running, jumping, or bouncing balls!
- Establish school-wide nonverbal cues for noise level that can be used when students gather, e.g., lunch room, assemblies, and transitions to outside classroom activities. Indicate appropriate sound levels and behaviors such as holding up a sign for zero talk. Reminders (good job) and citations (need to do better) about behavior can effectively shape the behavior.
- We are not in a zoo! We are humans, and we know meal manners!
- We respect school property – if food falls on the floor, we pick it up and discard it correctly!
- We can follow the lunch line procedures without prompts.
- Everyone has fun!
- No one is left out!
- Post good manners rules.
- Assign lunch monitors. Older students as mentors for the younger grades can also be effective.
- Train lunch monitors to be pleasant, and to use instructive discipline for inappropriate behaviors.
- I can take my turn.
- I can play with everyone.
- No one is left out.
- Exercise is good for me!
- Use structured/organized recess. Structured recess games that emphasize turn taking, helpfulness, rule following, and emotional control dramatically improve cooperative behavior, decrease bullying and aggression, improve social norms, better character, improve academic learning during the day, and reduces ADHD and other disturbances.
End of Day - Leaving School
- It was a good day.
- I like school.
- I need to take home all the things I need to complete my homework.
- Positive school-to-home notes such as, “This week we have been studying about the life cycle of the butterfly, specifically the concept of metamorphosis. Sam understood this concept quickly and did very well in class. Perhaps you could spend some extra time this weekend exploring the types of butterflies in our State, or reading more books about butterflies.”
- Use “tootles” or compliments –praise notes that are opposite of “tattles”. They are written compliment notes that are publicly posted. Effective in improving social competence, school adjustment, and reducing problem behaviors.