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On My Mind: New Year, New Adventure

Are you a TAGteacher? Add some clicker savvy to your tool kit.

Are you a clicker trainer? Add TAGteach know-how to your dealings with people.

What's the difference?

Therapy Dogs Serve Children with Autism

Editor’s note: Poodle-loving school psychologist, dog training coach, and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner Patricia Stokely writes movingly about the

On My Mind: “I probably should be doing something else, but I have to do this first!”

I was catching up on the TAGteach list recently and discovered this thrilling news.

Carly Fleming wrote:

I just came across a website and blog by a professor of philosophy at Stanford, about what he calls “Structured Procrastination.” I am a HUGE procrastinator and also a perfectionist (which is mostly what his blog is about). I came across an entry talking about to-do lists that had so many elements of TAGteach in it that I had to share. Some of the ideas he used were:

  1.  Breaking things down into small attainable goals
  2. "TAG points" of 5 words or less (although some of his were a little longer)
  3. Physically checking off an item on the list (similar to getting a TAG or pulling a bead on the tagulator)

I hope someone finds this as interesting as I did. Carly

Yes, But Does This Work with Kids? How TAGteach Made a Difference at School and Home

Editor's note:
Karen Pryor introduces Stephanie Tagtow's success story.

I hear this question often: "Yes, but does it work with kids?"

Do you think of clicker training as something that's good for dogs and other animals, but not right for people? The principles of learning are always the same. The technology of training without punishment, and with a marker, works with any organism with a nervous system.

Adapting positive reinforcement training to human problems just requires slightly different methods. For example, you can tell your learner what you will click for. We call these special techniques for humans TAGteaching. We call the marker sound a TAG. We call the criterion being clicked a TAG point. Beyond that, the training is the same: being sensitive to reinforcement choice, breaking behavior down into successful units, creative thinking, and timing.

The outcome? Just what you'd expect. The learner is thrilled. Long-standing problems vanish, to be replaced with good new behaviors. Even the beginning teacher has success, so the teacher is thrilled, too.

The story below is a great example of TAGteaching—see what you think! Is there anything going on in your life that could use a little tagging?

The Clicker Trainer: Remembering Wendy Schnipper Clayton

A note from Karen Pryor:

Clicker training is not just about training; it’s about living. When we teach clicker training, we want to see clicker skills “generalize,” become so ingrained that the first thought, in any situation, is to think, “How do I use reinforcers here?” instead of reaching for the punishers automatically.

This shift in perspective can change the way clicker trainers act. Newcomers to ClickerExpo often remark at how amazing it is to be in a large group where nearly everyone is calm and friendly. I think the absence of ire makes us all feel safe, even the dogs (who lie down and go to sleep).