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Introduction to Choice Theory

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aidan chafe

on 13 February 2018

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Transcript of Introduction to Choice Theory

What is Choice Theory?
We do have a choice
Reality versus Perception
Intrinsic motivation and the Sawyer Effect
“Unless we do something to restructure classes so that they are more satisfying, there is no sense in telling students how valuable classes are and how much they need them.” – William Glasser
"All we do is behave" - William Glasser
"The mind is an excellent slave, but terrible master."
"There is more on heaven and earth Horatio than is dreamt of in your philosophy." - Shakespeare
"Students are not vessels to be filled..." - Paulo Friere
Choice Theory
Our Quality World
Our Real World
Glasser's Glasses
We are always trying to align our Real World with our Quality World.
Maslow's Hierarchy
William Glasser

Born in 1925, Glasser is an American psychiatrist who developed Choice Theory and a related Reality Therapy which focus on personal choice, responsibility and transformation.

Glasser founded "The Institute for Reality Therapy" in 1967, which was renamed "The Institute for Control Theory, Reality Therapy and Quality Management" in 1994 and later "The William Glasser Institute" in 1996.

Glasser has also authored and co-authored numerous influential books on mental health, counselling, and the improvement of schools, teaching, and several publications advocating a public health approach to mental health versus the prevailing "medical" model.

His book "Choice Theory in the Classroom" published in outlines ways in which Choice Theory can be integrated in the classroom to understand, develop classroom/student behaviour and choices.
Questions to ponder...
1. What would my quality classroom look like? What does my real classroom look like? How might I bridge that gap?

2. What are my students needs and wants?

3. Why do certain students behave the way they do? Are their needs being met (Survival, Freedom, Power, Love and Belonging, Fun and Learning)?
If not, how is that affecting their behaviour in school?
The chicken or the egg?
Who influences whom: do our emotions influence our thoughts, or do our thoughts influence our emotions?

Turn and talk!
Thinking is the key!
Our thoughts influence our emotions
It is not the events in our lives that make us sad, frustrated, excited or angry. It is the way we choose to think about these events. Remember, we have a choice in how to think about particular events in our lives, therefore we can ultimately decide how we feel about them.

On a rainy day, we don't wake up and feel sad; we wake up and think about sad things. In turn our negative thoughts influence our emotions, which are in turn feelings of sadness. These feelings will alter the way we behave. By knowing this, we now have the ability to choose our behaviour, empowering us to control our thoughts, and in turn, our emotions.
Student: I don't want to play basketball.
Teacher: Why?
Student: Because I'm not very good.
Teacher: Why aren't you very good?
Student: I can't dribble the ball.
Teacher: Okay, so today you can work towards becoming good at basketball
by practicing your dribbling.
Scenario #2:
Assumptions and Interpretations
I know there are exceptions, but most people would experience anger and frustration and become confrontational.

Let's say you do get out of your car and just as you are about to confront the other driver, he walks up to you and says, "I am so terribly sorry. My two-year-old son is lying in the back seat of my car. He had an asthma attack and I need to get him to the hospital. My thoughts weren't on the road."

Think again what your emotions and behaviour would be now.

Any different?
Positive Thinking
Sequence of Action
Perceptions versus Reality
Paradigm Shift
Ken Robinson on changing the way we perceive formal education
Let’s say you are driving on the highway to an important teacher's conference. All of a sudden you hit a traffic jam and there you sit. Now you start worrying about being late for the conference and you become all tensed up. To top it all off, you look in the rearview mirror and you see a car speeding in the fast lane. Just as it's about to pass you, the driver sees a police officer and tries to push in front of you and scratches the front of your car in the process.

Now just take a couple of seconds to think about what your typical emotions and behavior would be like in this situation.

How would you feel about the driver?
What happened here? In the first instance you’ve experienced emotions based on how you interpret the event. Your interpretation of somebody driving like that was not positive.

Then as you got ready to react on that thought process which has now triggered your emotions of anger and frustration you were about to behave in a confrontational manner.

However, when the person apologized and told his story, you changed your interpretation of the event, and with it, your emotions most likely changed as well.
1. External event (Stimuli)

2. Interpretation of event (Thought Process)

3. Feelings towards event (Emotion)

4. Acting in response (Behaviour)
Metacognition: Thinking about how we think
1) Listen to the story.

2) Ask a lot of questions.

3) There is no one right answer, there are many. There is no one truth, there are many.
External event: A boy throws a book at another boy during silent reading.

Interpretation of the event (from the boy who got hit with the book): "Johnny threw his book at me, I feel hurt...and I know he did it on purpose."

Feelings towards the event: Angry

Action in response: Telling the teacher

Teacher's turn...what do you do?

Always give students options.
This empowers students with choice. Ex. "If you don't follow certain rules you will sit out, or spend time inside with me during recess. Remember this is your choice. You choose to decide how you're going to behave."

Be as transparent as possible.
Don't be afraid to admit your mistakes. Admit them as much as possible. Humility is a great virtue. Showing them that you're just as human will earn their respect. Don't hide things, students will know.

Show them you care.
Take the time to get to know them. What are their interests (quality world)? What are their needs (real world)? What are their dreams (educational quality world)? Feedback, feedback, feedback. Constant dialogue.
How do I make learning fun without rewards?
"If-then" rewards aren't healthy
Study on Reward-based Learning
In a classic children's study by psychologists Mark Lepper and David Greene, preschoolers were watched by researchers for several days and identified as children who chose to spend their "free play" time drawing. They then fashioned an experiment to test the effect of rewarding an activity (drawing) these children clearly enjoyed.
Ideas for the classroom
Inspire learning
The Sawyer Effect - How rewards turn play into hard work
Two weeks later, back in the classroom, teachers set out paper and markers during the preschool's free play period while the researchers secretly observed the students. Children previously in the "unexpected-award" and "no-award" groups drew just as much, and with the same relish, as they had before the experiment. But children in the first group - the ones who'd expected and then received an award - showed much less interest and spent much less time drawing. The Sawyer Effect had taken hold. Those prizes, so alluring in the classroom, turned play into work.
Only the "if-then" (contingency) rewards had a negative impact.

The reason: they forfeit students' autonomy - or as we relate this to Choice Theory - their freedom. For many students this can drain the activity of its enjoyment. Instead of enjoying the activity as play, students start racing towards the finish line. They try to complete the activity as fast as possible with the least amount of time to put effort and thought-process into it. The carrot becomes an obsession as the learning deteriorates.

So for example, and with this conclusion in mind, giving a reward to a student with each math workbook he/she completes will make the student more diligent in the short-term, but jeopardizes their long-term interest level in the subject altogether.
1) Make the learning meaningful.

- Inspire
- Create fun and relevant lesson plans

2) Become less of a lecture-manager, and more
of a facilitator-leader.

- Endorse a sense of play and creativity.
- Have students engage in group activities.
Reference List
Second Study

Four economists went to India and set up shop in Madurai, a poorer part of the country. They recruited 87 participants and asked them to play several games - for example, tossing tennis balls at a target, unscrambling anagrams, recalling a string of digits - things that required motor skills, creativity, or concentration. To test the power of incentives, the experimenters offered three types of rewards for reaching certain performance levels.
Total Behaviour
"It is impossible for anyone of these parts to occur without the others." - Glasser
Play and Creativity
Group Activities
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
Making it fun!
10 Axioms of Choice Theory

1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
2. All we can give another person is information.
3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
4. The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
5. What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
6. We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World.
7. All we do is behave.
8. All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: acting, thinking, feeling and physiology.
9. All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over the acting and thinking components. We can only control our feeling and physiology indirectly through how we choose to act and think.
10. All Total Behavior is designated by verbs and named by the part that is the most recognizable.
Needs and Wants
We have needs and we have wants; our behaviour is continually determined by these needs and wants.
Thoughts influence emotions
Scenario #1
1. Acknowledge the action - "Thank you choosing to tell me (teacher) instead of acting with aggression."

2. Acknowledge the emotion: anger. "Yes,
and I understand how that would make you angry right now."

3. Talk to Johnny
Nothing in that particular event changed. It was only your interpretations that changed. By default you changed from negative thinking to positive thinking. Your initial perception was not in fact the reality of the situation. But with further information you were able to gain a better and more clearer insight into the events that unfolded.

This type of thinking occurs in the classroom all of the time.

The most important way to combat this type of negative interpretation is to allow for inquiry. Try to gather as much of facts through questioning and analysis as possible before reacting and behaving. The way in which you deal with the consequences, and the manner in which you do so will most likely result in a more positive experience for both you and the student(s) involved.
Think about your perception of education. What does education mean to you? How do you define your role as an educator?
Choice Theory in the Classroom

by William Glasser

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink

Schools without Failure
by William Glasser
The researchers divided the children into three groups:

1) "Expected-Award" group. They showed each of these children a "Good Player" certificate - adorned with a blue ribbon and featuring the child's name - and asked if the child wanted to draw in order to receive the award.

2) "The unexpected-award" group. Researchers asked these children simply if they wanted to draw. If they decided to, when the session ended, the researchers handed each child one of the "Good Player" certificates.

3) The third group was the "no-award" group. Researchers asked these children if they wanted to draw, but neither promised them a certificate at the beginning nor gave them one at the end.
The risk of rewards
Yes, as it turned out, the people who were offered the medium-sized bonus didn't perform any better than those offered the small one. And those in the 400-rupee group fared worst of all. In nearly every task they lagged behind both the low-reward and medium-reward participants.

Results: Higher incentives led to a worse performance.

Conclusion: Rewards produce less of what what we're trying to encourage - performance.
Money as a motivator for performance
One-third of the participants could earn a small reward - four rupees (equal to a day's pay in Madurai) for reaching their performance targets. One-third could earn a medium reward - 40 rupees (two-weeks pay). And one-third could earn a very large reward - 400 rupees (nearly five months' pay).

What do you think happened? Did the size of the reward predict the quality of the performance?
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