Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TAGteacher Tale: I Cried Like a Baby for an Hour

By Kelly Drifmeyer

My name is Kelly Drifmeyer, I’m a classical musician on the Horn (French Horn), and a college professor at the Crane School of Music, SUNY-Potsdam. I’ve also trained and enjoyed the company of golden retrievers for 24 years.

I first woke up to the idea that I could learn and teach in a different way about 23 years ago. My early learning experiences as a hornist were with artist-musicians I think of as “old school” teachers. They learned how to teach from their teachers, and they from theirs, back to the European masters of the instrument back to who-knows-when. What they all had in common was a thick language of instruction on “how” to do things, and a negative and often punitive style of correction when you didn’t do those things right. There was one right way – their way – and to not follow instructions to the letter, or not provide the ideal result, was an invitation to a browbeating, embarrassment, or demeaning and sometimes harsh verbal correction. “You’ll never be successful sounding like that…that’s not good enough…you better find a different career,” these were all commonplace comments in both my own experience and the experiences of my fellow students. None of us liked it, but it became a badge of honor to survive lessons under those conditions and not break down.

When I started my own music teaching, it was about the time I also began formal dog training. In the early ‘90’s in my area this consisted of the “jerk and release” methods of instruction and correction. You said “good girl” in an anemic sort of way if they did it right, and yanked them around on the end of a leash when they didn’t. My first, sensitive golden began to avoid me on training nights, and at home she would startle and cower at the slightest raising of my voice – whether it was meant for her or not. We stopped training, how could I keep abusing my sweet girl like that? I finally went hunting at the bookstore for something different (this was pre-Google!) and stumbled upon “Don’t Shoot the Dog!” by Karen Pryor. I read it, and re-read it, and felt immediately guilty for being so stupid when there was such an obvious alternative. A “clicker” wasn’t easy to come by, but I found one eventually and off we went into dog training happiness.

It was quite a while later when I connected the dots to myself, and to my horn students. My early training (and being a perfectionist) had left me with a pile of mental self-abuse chatter that turned “on” every time I picked up the horn. I couldn’t practice, rehearse, or perform without a stream of negative thoughts flowing through my head. I almost quit the profession twice. I struggled with auditions, the one and only way to get a job in the performance field. I played beautifully at times, and had meltdowns at others. Nothing was ever “good enough”, so the angry commentary never stopped. Worst of all, I saw the same attitudes and negativity in my own students.

Tagteach isn’t where I started, but it is where I ended up. I tried the Artist’s Way, the Inner Game books, Peak Performance ideas, even “positive speaking” models, nothing solved the problem completely - until I picked up my dog clicker and used it on myself. I gave myself one task, used positive-only feedback, and ignored the bad stuff because it didn’t matter. The first time I tried it, I cried like a baby for an hour. And then went back and did it again.

I used this method for several years on my students and on myself before I discovered TAGteach in 2010. Another revelation – I wasn’t secretly doing something bad by using my dog training skills on my students, other people were doing it too! I read every inch of the website, watched every video I could find, took the online class and wanted more. In Spring 2011 I went to my first workshop with Theresa McKeon and it was amazing! I didn’t have the easiest time there – I had been using a self-taught method with a more relaxed structure, and I struggled with the new format and new terminology. But with practice has come an understanding of how the language of TAGteach helps me define my own thoughts, and helps my students with their own frame of reference.

I now use tagging regularly for specific tasks with all of my students. They universally respond in a very positive way, and many of them will ask for a tagging session when they find they’re struggling with a particular activity. I don’t use it every lesson, or for everything, but its an invaluable tool when working on high stress or high frustration problems. I find it to be especially effective when working on more physical issues. Musicians frequently work with muscles on a micro level – tiny, flexible motions of tiny, fragile muscle groups. Stress and tension can ruin the ability to use these muscles correctly, and I’ve found tagging lowers frustration, which lowers tension, which creates a calmer, more relaxed learner. And like magic, the relaxed learner is a successful doer.

The “magic” of TAGteach was brought home to me just a few weeks ago. I have a new student, “Amy”, who is bright, hard working and dedicated. She is also a mental and physical mess – tight, twisted posture, loads of tension, and a low threshold for frustration. She gets upset at the smallest things, and I sometimes walk on eggshells trying to get her to correct a problem without having a full-on meltdown. I’ll be honest – Amy was not my favorite student. I was irritated by her touchiness, and I’d lost patience with her meekness and sensitivity. It was no surprise that in a recent lesson, I found myself correcting, and correcting again a singular problem she could not seem to manage. I was getting frustrated, my voice was getting louder - when I noticed her hunching lower and lower in her chair, getting smaller and tighter at every attempt. Just like my sweet, sensitive golden almost 20 years ago.

Stop, I said to both of us. I took a deep breath and picked up my tagger. “This is a tagger. When you hear this sound - *click* - you’ll know you’ve done it right. If you don’t hear the sound, just try it again, no problem.” That’s all I told her the first time out. I took her through a focus funnel – explained what we were doing, then defined a single task, then gave her a single tag point – and off we went. And I felt stupid all over again for not having done it weeks earlier – she was finding success within ten minutes. And more importantly, she was then able to successfully integrate the new skill into a larger, more complex format. She also remembered, and repeated, the newly won skill for me the next week, and the next.

What’s most interesting to me about this story? I like Amy more now than I used to. We’ve found a way to communicate that takes some of the friction out of our relationship. She learns more confidently, and I’m also more relaxed, knowing I can say what I need to without hurting her.

TAGteach is an elegant, simple, precise language I use to interact with myself and with others. It’s a gateway to learning and teaching that bypasses the traditional use of negative feedback that so often produces frustration, stress, anger, and resentment. The teaching of musicians is shrouded in those traditions passed on through generations. That seems great to me in “what” we learn, but “how” we learn it needs some help. TAGteach resolves so many of the barriers to effective learning and retention, I’m spending a semester on sabbatical in 2014 to improve my own understanding of TAGteach and show others in my field how useful it can be.

Kelly Drifmeyer
Associate Professor of Horn
The Crane School of Music SUNY-Potsdam
Potsdam, NY 13676

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TAGteacher Tale: A Winning Approach to Transforming Your Instructor

TAGteacher Joey Iverson has successfully introduced TAGteach to the tennis world, although she said it’s for selfish reasons. “I want to be the best tennis player I can be and that will happen faster if my coach uses TAGteach!”

"I explained a few of the tools to my coach Grant Grinnell (USPTA) and he was willing to give it a shot. After just a few tries, he was totally sold on the value of TAGteach and the powerful learning it facilitates. He commented that there was more improved play in my game within a single lesson. He also noticed that although it was easier to get information to me with the marker, it also required a different focus. In a group lesson he is usually trying to take in what each of the players is doing. To tag me for the skill, he had to momentarily keep his focus on just me or he would miss the marker timing. Both of us had complete focus and that brought about immediate improvement."

It seems Joey’s coach is as excited about TAGteach as she is:

“I love everything about what you've taught me. I love the tag, I love the positive reinforcement. I love no negative connotation. I love the focus of what I need to do and I love the focus of what students can do if they are tagging somebody else. I love everything about it, it's fantastic and I plan on using extensively in my teaching in the future.”

The word is spreading fast. After watching a TAGteach session between Grant and Joey, another coach, Chad Smith USPTA wanted in. It wasn’t long until he found exactly why TAGteach worked for him.

“TAGteach worked for me because I could mark the exact point I need my students to feel in my lessons. My students quickly associated the tag with what I was trying to get them to understand in their technique. It made my instructions that much more effective.”

Thank-you Joey for spreading the word effectively and kudos to Grant and Chad for being coaches that are open to new concepts that improve learning for their students!

USPTA Tennis Coach Grant Grinnell Talks About TAGteach

Join us for a webinar with TAGteacher Joey Iversen on May 20, 2014 where we will learn about strategies for helping to transform your instructors, teachers or coaches so that they can begin to teach the way YOU want to learn. Click here for more information or to register.

BONUS! Register for this webinar and you will get a discount code for 25% off our recorded webinar: Sport Coaches: 4 Thing Your Athletes Wish You Knew. This webinar covers specific details of TAGteach for Sport Coaches.

DOUBLE BONUS! Register for the Sport Coaches webinar recording and you will get a free pass for your coach or instructor.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What Do a Sea Hare and Stephen Hawking Have in Common?

We are often asked why it is that TAGteach works so well and so fast, sometimes yielding behavior change or learning that seems magical. There is no magic involved, except that which goes on in our brains. Level 3 TAGteacher Luca Canever presented a fascinating webinar about how the brain learns and why TAGteach works so well.

By Luca Canever

I am pleased to have this chance to share my passion about the brain and how it learns, with my fellow TAGteachers. Here is a brief outline of the topics I will cover in my webinar:

Working Memory and Cognitive Load

The TAGteach mantra "talk less, teach more", seems counter-intuitive, but there is sound science behind this. In this part I want to discuss how working memory works in the brain. The role of this specific memory is to catch things from environment to ensure our survival. We can think of the working memory like a window from which our consciousness looks at the world. Also the working memory creates the memories for the long term memory. If we overload the working memory with too nmuch information it won't be able to pass on the memories, and the learning will stop. Too much information it's not good for the learning. TAGteach, indeed is.

Associative Learning: What a Sea Hare and Stephen Hawking Have in Common

Earth had 3 billion years of bacteria, before life discovered associative learning. Life had blossomed about 540 million years ago when the first multicellular organisms discovered associative learning. If you know (and you can remember) where you can find food, mating opportunities and where your predator is waiting for you, your survival chances will increase. Organisms have learned by association for millions of years, so the argument that TAGteachers sometimes hear from parents: "Don't treat my daughter like a dog!" makes no sense. From the lowly sea hare to the brilliant Steven Hawking, we all learn in the same way. What is different is the complexity in the brain. But I'll give references to recent findings that indicate our (human) brains are not brand new. On the contrary they use pieces and parts that already exist and adapt them to our new requirements.

Maps in the Brain - Why My Car is not Like Yours

In his book "Thinking fast and slow", Daniel Kahneman says that each of us has his/her own, clear idea of what a car is. But if you ask two people to draw a car what you get is two different things. At the same time we can understand each other because we "share" the idea of "car" or "table". We can develop a common language because my representations in my brain are similar to yours. The memories in the brain are not "single-folder" kind. Memories are maps in the brain with different pattern for everyone. TAGteach helps because with the WOOF rules creates a crystal clear tag point that is clearly understood by both teacher and learner.

Click here for more information or to register for the webinar recording


Monday, November 25, 2013

Theresa's TAGteacher Gift List

Looking for the perfect gift for a TAGteacher? Or to put on your own Christmas list? We've put together a list of Theresa's recommended reading for TAGteachers. Just forward this link to Santa and try to be very, very good!

Click on any book to get more info or to buy it from Amazon.





Saturday, November 23, 2013

Upcoming TAGteach Seminars

Holiday Special! 10% off all 4 upcoming US seminars, until Dec 25, 2014

TAGteach Webinar: How the Brain Learns (Why TAGteach Works so Well)
Date: Jan 30, 2014
Location: Online
Get more info and register
TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Feb 8-9, 2014
Location: Tampa FL (Busch Gardens)
Get more info and register
TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Feb 22-23, 2014
Location: Marysville (Central OH)
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Mar 8-9, 2014
Location: Denver CO
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Apr 5-6, 2014
Location: Seattle WA
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TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jun 14-15, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Explaining TAGteach to Your Sports Parents

If you are a coach using TAGteach and you want to explain what you are doing to the parents of your athletes - we have just the thing! You can download these cool pamphlets created by Michelle Ma and Maya Rankupalli. One is generic and one is specifically for skating. These are PDF files. If you want to add your own contact information you can do this by importing the file into Adobe Photo Shop or similar program and making changes. We are unable to help with this.

Click here to get the generic pamphlet page 1

Click here to get the generic pamphlet page 2

Click here to get the skating pamphlet

Not only are these available in print, but TAGteach is also explained in ASL in this wonderful video created by ASL interpreter Bonnie Gibson-Brydon and her beautiful assistants Sissy and Nicole Paniagua.

Thanks to Lynn Loar, Libby Colman and Judy Johns for mentoring and facilitating the production of these materials. Produced by The Pryor Foundation.

Tags on Ice

For more about TAGteach with skating, purchase the Tags On Ice DVD produced by TAGteacher and skating coach Lynn Loar. Here is a video trailer:

More About TAGteach and Sports

TAGteach works incredibly well for sports training. Check out the sports page at our website for more information and our recorded webinars with sports-related content

                            Back chaining                  Equestrian Instruction                     Sport Coaching                                                              

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Autism: Turning Liabilities into Assets with TAGteach

Family walking in the woods
By Martha Gabler

Hello. My name is Martha Gabler and I am the parent of a nonverbal teenage boy with autism. I would like to invite you to learn about a teaching approach known as “Teaching with Acoustical Guidance” (TAGteach), and how it turned the “liabilities” of autism into “assets” in our house. I will also give an example of how I used TAGteach to teach my son two useful behaviors that greatly improved our quality of life. I hope you will want to learn more, and if you do, I invite you to contact me with any questions.

The liabilities

If you ask, “Why is it so hard to teach a child with autism?” you will get a long list of “liabilities.” These include sensory issues, speech and language difficulties, and challenging behaviors, many of which are severe. Recent research at the University of Rochester shows how just a few of these problems can create confusion for a learner with autism. Research at the University of Rochester has demonstrated that children with autism perceive movement as occurring faster than it actually is. So, if you demonstrate something with objects or your hands, the child will perceive the movements as happening faster than they actually are. Combine this perception problem with research from SFARI which demonstrated that children with autism take longer to listen to and process speech. Now, imagine the confusion for the child: objects, people’s movements and activities are moving too fast, but language comprehension is going too slowly: everything is out of snyc. No wonder the child has a hard time with learning and becomes frustrated. These negative emotions can lead to anger, acting out and all those challenging, sometimes aggressive behaviors we hear about.

How does TAGteach change these liabilities into assets?

TAGteach changes all of this by starting the teaching process with only the behavior the child is already doing. TAGteach is based on the same scientific principles as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and uses positive reinforcement to increase desired behaviors. What TAGteach adds—and this is the unique part--is an acoustical signal, a sound such as a tap, click or ping. The purpose of the acoustical signal is to “mark” a behavior that the child performs, at the exact moment the child performs the behavior. With TAGteach, the acoustical mark is called a tag. Demonstrations and long-winded explanations are replaced by a neutral sound that gives the child precise information that he has done something right. It’s a two-step procedure: tag the behavior when the child performs it, then hand over a treat or desired item (the reinforcer). The child gets precise information and a reinfocer. You can see how this would be pleasant for the child, and we all know that a behavior that is reinforced is a behavior that will occur more often.

A real life example

Here is how I used TAGteach (tags and positive reinforcement) to teach my son good car behavior. When my son was little he had difficult behaviors in the car: lots of ear-splitting shrieking and kicking the front seat. These behaviors interfered with my ability to watch traffic and drive safely. I could not explain to him that these behaviors were dangerous, nor could he control the behaviors. I desperately wanted him to be quiet and still in the car so we wouldn’t have an accident. After thinking about it, I decided that the two behaviors I wanted in the car were “Quiet Mouth” and “Feet Still.” We practiced with my husband driving and me tagging, every time my son had a split second of “Quiet Mouth” or “Feet Still,” I tagged the behavior by clicking with a little plastic box clicker and immediately giving him a little treat (the reinforcer). He learned fairly rapidly to lower his voice and keep his feet down. He has good car behavior now, so the whole family can get out and go places with no anxiety; even 7-8 hour trips are no problem.

With TAGteach I was able to change his behaviors from dangerous to safe. There was no punishment. There was no coercion. He liked it because he experienced positive reinforcement in the form of praise and candy. Plus, we ended up taking more car trips and going to interesting places, which he enjoys. At the beginning he could not connect the car trip with getting to go to somewhere fun and interesting. It was essential to have reinforcement along the way, until he began to realize that the car meant good things to come.

TAGteach blasts through the liabilities

TAGteach works so well because the sound (the click or ping) tells a child, “You did something right, now you are getting a treat.” The click indicates success to the child, and success is great! We all like success and kids with autism generally experience very little success. Despite the sensory issues and the language processing issues, the click rings loud and clear and tells the child that he did something right. Once the child realizes that his own behaviors result in helpful information and reinforcement, i.e., success, he looks for more opportunities to get more of these good things. From that point on, it is just a matter of observing the child, noting which behaviors are helpful or positive, then tagging and reinforcing those behaviors. When a child is successfully learning functional behaviors and is able to participate in more pleasant activities, his horizons expand and the difficult, angry behaviors decline.

The assets

TAGteach opened my eyes to other features of my child. I observed that he is extraordinarily attuned to positive reinforcement. He uses his sensory skills (as I call them now) to perceive what actions are bringing reinforcement to him, and he is very focused on what is happening in his environment. Please note that now I describe him in terms of being “attuned,” “perceiving” and “focused”, as opposed to sensorily challenged. He uses his remarkable sensory and perceptive abilities to figure out what he is doing that is right, and thus learns lots of great new behaviors. Plus, he is always proud of himself when he has mastered a new skill.

My son has learned to use his exceptional sensory abilities to tune in to and capitalize on positive reinforcement in his environment, in particular, the sound of the tag. Because anyone can observe his behavior and tag him to tell him he is on the right track, he can go places without me and learn new cooperative behaviors. For example, this summer he went to sleep away camp for a week and camp staff were able to keep him calm and happy by telling him with the tagger what was expected of him in this new environment. It is a huge relief to me to know that he can be content away from me and that the TAGteach approach I have used with him is transferable to others.

My son’s name is Douglas; his nicknames are “Doug” and, inevitably, “Doug-bug,” “Love bug,” “Hug-a-bug” and “Bug-alicious.” These nicknames raised up an image in my mind of a child with autism as having powerful sensory “antennae” that are sweeping about looking for positive reinforcement. Once the antennae “lock on” to the positive reinforcement trail, they will continue to follow it. All we have to do is provide the bread crumbs, cookie crumbs or treats at frequent, strategic intervals to lead him to the desired destination: functional skills, learning, and opportunities to go places.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

This is how TAGteach turns LIABILITIES into ASSETS.

About Martha

3D_Book_Image_no Background

Martha Gabler is the mother of a non-verbal teenager with severe autism. Martha lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and two sons. Her older son is at university pursuing a degree in mathematics. Martha runs a tutoring company called Kids' Learning Workshop LLC, and is the author of the book entitled Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism. Martha writes articles to help other autism parents solve or prevent behavior problems at her blog: www.AutismChaosToCalm.com. Martha loves to hear from readers and to answer questions at her Facebook page.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Seven Simple Steps to Getting the Most from Your Parkour Training Sessions

By Karin Coyne and Abigail Curtis DVM

Let’s do some simple math to start. Don’t be scared, I promise it is simple! You have a structured class once a week, which leaves how many days a week without a class? Six! Very good! Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way for you to make progress in those six days in between classes? Yeah, that would be quite awesome. Luckily, there are some things we have discovered through practice that will help you to get the most use out of each of your lessons.

Find a Training Partner! 
Two minds (or even three!) are better than one. Ideally, this training partner excels at different things than you do. They don’t have to be MORE skilled than you, often it will actually be to your benefit to be of similar skill level. That way you explain things in terms you both can understand.

Pay Attention
Watch the instructor, but also watch your classmates who can do the skill. See what works. Make note of the little things. Pay attention to their hand position, foot position, where they are looking and what the rest of the body is doing. If you are doing a skill one at a time, each person’s turn is an opportunity to learn something important about the movement. You are looking for movements that are smooth and effortless. Those are the ones you want to model. If you can, come up with tag points you think might be helpful later DURING your lesson or practice session.

Read more about how to create great tag points that will accelerate your learning.

YouTube! Use It
Class can teach you the basic skills and what you need to focus on outside of class. YouTube can help you refine them and come up with tag points to make them better. If you find yourself really struggling to figure out a movement, watch several different people perform that movement on video. Pay particular attention to the components that are similar between different people and where there seems to be some “play” in the performance. Things that are often key elements are often: foot placements, foot order, hand placements, and core body position.

Keep it Simple
Focus on one section of a skill at a time. This is where TAGteach is a HUGE help. Decide on a skill that you want to focus on and then break it into small components. You might have to hunt for specific obstacles that let you practice one component. Height is often the easiest and most useful element to remove. For example: when practicing vaults, find a place where the railing only has a drop on one side and gradually increase the drop on the other side.

Take video of your training sessions and use it DURING that session. Watch what seems to work and what doesn’t. The more you watch people move, the easier it will be for you to figure out how a particular muscle group contributes to a movement and how these movements will fit together into a fluidly performed skill. Don’t be afraid to experiment as the video will tell you if something is working well before you will see it on a larger scale. Find something you are struggling with, come up with a tag point you think might help, practice it a few times, and then check the video to see if you see ANY signs of improvement. If you do, great! If not, the new way you moved in this video will likely give you an idea for a new tag point. Use that.

Ask Questions
If you don’t know something, ask! If you are struggling with a specific skill, ask. Ask your coach for one thing that you could do to make the skill better. Just one. Make this into a focus point during the session, only focus on this one aspect of the skill (for example, legs straight in lazy vault). If your coach struggles with giving you just one thing, try to pick out what you think is the key point and ask specifically if that is a good thing to focus on. When you are on own, use this focus point to guide your practice! Even better, have someone tag you. They don’t even have to know the skill. You should be able to explain it clearly enough that they can tag you with no outside knowledge.

Get Stronger
Know when something is a strength issue and when it is a technique issue. Practicing climb-ups 8 million times does you no good if you just aren’t strong enough to do good climb ups. It simply starts building movements into your muscle memory that will be difficult to fade later.  Conditioning to increase your strength is as important (if not more so for some movements) than just training techniques and movements.

Watch this video of a practice Parkour training session using TAGteach to focus and improve skills and reduce fear:

Learn More About the Extraordinary Power of TAGteach

Now available is a recorded webinar presented by Karin Coyne and Abigail Curtis along with TAGteach co-founders Joan Orr and Theresa McKeon on the topic of TAGteach for sport coaching. Sport coaching is where TAGteach got its start and where it truly excels. If you are a coach or an athlete this is must have information and a low cost way to learn about TAGteach.

Click here for more information or to register

Use the code ILOVETAGTEACH for 50% off until Thurs Nov 7, 2013 (price will be $9.97)

100% money back satisfaction guarantee

Because we want to get this information into the hands of more coaches, we will give you a discount code for you to give to your coach or your child's coach to access the recorded webinar for free. Coaches need to know this stuff! You will get an email with the free discount code after you register for the recorded webinar.

More Sports Posts

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Upcoming TAGteach Events

TAGteach Webinar: Sport Coaches - Four Things Your Athletes Wish You Knew
Date: Tues Oct 29, 2013
Get more info and register

TAGteach Webinar: Tagging Without the Tagger - Applying TAGteach Principles to Any Situation (Free for Members)
Date: Tues Nov 12, 2013
Get more info and register 

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar Eva Bertilsson Och Emelie Vegh-Johnson
Date: Nov 16-17, 2013
Location: Bengtemöllevägen 5 i Brösarp
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Feb 8-9, 2014
Location: Tampa FL (Busch Gardens)
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Feb 22-23, 2014
Location: Marysville (Central OH)
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Mar 8-9, 2014
Location: Denver CO
Get more info and register

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tidbits From a TAGteach Seminar in Italy

By Luca Canever

These videos and comments were recorded during the Primary Certification Seminar  which we have held at the TICE Center in Piacenza. Among all the wonderful things presented, I would like to share these two videos. Thank you to the participants!

Video #1: Teaching Sign Language to a Learner that is Deaf, Mute and Visually Impaired

TAGteach stands for “Teaching with Acoustical Guidance”. Actually, what is unusual about the methodology shown in this video is the type of a marker (tag) used to reinforce students’ correct answers. In this video, (presented for the Primary Certification) by Gabriella (the teacher) and Eleanor (the student) the marker is no longer acoustical, but tactile. The tag phrasing is not verbal but tactile and is modeled by the teacher with her hands. As long as the marker is always consistent and can be easily perceived by the student any stimulus is suitable. In the project, the 'student' is a deaf-mute person and visually impaired.

I can only add that it was one of the most exciting experiences that I have had since working with TAGteach. See below for an explanation of what is going on in the video.

0.00: The teacher " draws" on students shoulder the letter R. Many people with similar disabilities like those presented in this project, learn to recognize the letters in this way. In the project we want to teach the correct sign for the letter R. The first phase of the video shows how, usually, these behaviors are thought.

0.30: Student does not perform the action properly. The teacher checks her program
and get ready for a new strategy , introducing the TAGteach.

0.32: The instructions are presented by the teacher with the right hand . The student " feels " the movements with her left hand and replicate it with her right hand.

0.35: The TAG is a touch on the right leg.

0.43: The teacher lowers student’s right hand of the . In this way they get ready for the next step of the practice.

1:10: after checking the skills of the student , the teacher moves back to ask the complete gesture for the letter R. The teacher holds student’sright hand, to indicate the exact number of rotations of the wrist required for the letter R. Lacking the ability to communicate visually or verbally ithe touch is the only means of communication.

1:15: The teacher explains why he has decided to take action by blocking the wrist

1.30 : The student repeats the gesture correctly.
Tag !


"as far as my experience I can say that it was interesting to play the role of someone with these problems. I'm always the other side, teaching someone, and, with this experience, I truly realized what it means to want to succeed in something and have a thousand of obstacles. Then, blindfolded and silence all around, so many thoughts went through my head, and the most common was "Am I wrong?" I think, however, that it is the recurring thought of anyone who is actually learning. Having a good teacher as Gabriella, and an immediate signal that I could use to have clear evidence of my success, was a big help. I think that the TAGteach methodology that you have shown us to could have some interesting applications, used properly and setting realistic goals."

Video #2: Teaching an Expectant Mother How to Breast Feed

Get an expectant mother, a doctor and a therapist, add a puppet and what comes out is this wonderful lesson to teach to breastfeed. Thanks to Sara & Sara (the two teachers) and Serena, future mom!

If Eleonora and Gabriella's video was exciting, this one was fun, professional and instructive. Personally I wish we'd had someone to tell us how to breastfeed during the first week of my son's life when he wanted to suck as he thought it had to be done.
many sleepless nights

Click here for more from Luca at the TAGteach Italia page

TAGteach Nominated for SuperNova Award for Use of Gabitat Social Team Software

TAGteach International is proud to announce that it has been selected as a finalist in the SuperNova Awards, sponsored by Constellation Research. The finalists were selected from a pool of over 220 applicants, and recognized by the SuperNova Award Judges as exceptional examples of those who embody the SuperNova Award spirit to innovate and overcome the odds in successfully applying emerging and disruptive technologies within their organizations. The winners of the SuperNova Awards will be announced at the SuperNova Awards gala dinner on October 30, 2013 in Half Moon Bay, California. Applicants were subjected to a vigorous set of criteria that reflect real-world and pragmatic experience.

"We've been very impressed with the quality of this year's SuperNova Awards finalists. The individual and companies who have been selected truly buck the trend and show disruption," said R "Ray" Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, Inc.

TAGteach International is a finalist in the category, The Future of Work, for using the new social team software, Gabitat in publishing and marketing its book: Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism. Gabitat allowed the team scattered across North America in three time zones to work together efficiently, share documents using Box, track tasks using Asana, share and edit Google docs, and communicate using a central discussion area, all from within a single user interface.

"Overall, I don't see how we could have done this project and taken a manuscript from draft from to published book in the time we did without Gabitat. There were no problems with losing documents or data; there were no system crashes. It was reliable, convenient and easy to use", said author Martha Gabler.

Public voting continues until Oct 9, 2013 and will contribute 30% toward the final decision, with judging by a panel contributing 70%.

About TAGteach
TAGteach is a company dedicated to promoting positive strategies for increased productivity and success in every facet of life. TAGteach offers public seminars and private consulting to teach people in all fields of endeavor how to reduce instructions into manageable pieces, present these to the learner in an effective way and provide immediate positive reinforcement.

About Gabitat
Gabitat is social team software that gives users a single interface from which to share and discuss content from many different cloud applications.

About Constellation Research
Constellation Research, Inc. is a research and advisory firm focused on helping organizations apply emerging technologies to disrupt business models.

TAGteachers! Please vote for us - in Category 5

Click here to vote (Final day for voting is Oct 9)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Peer Reviewed Published Study: TAGteach and Autism

Angela Persicke, Marianne Jackson, Amanda N. Adams. 2013. Brief Report: An Evaluation of TAGteach Components to Decrease Toe-Walking in a 4-Year-Old Child with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Sept 2013.


The current study evaluated the effectiveness of using a modified TAGteach™ procedure and correction to decrease toe-walking in a 4-year-old boy with autism. Two conditions were analyzed: correction alone and correction with an audible conditioned reinforcing stimulus. Correction alone produced minimal and inconsistent decreases in toe-walking but correction with an audible conditioned stimulus proved most effective in reducing this behavior. This has implications for decreasing toe-walking in other children with autism and may be easily used by teachers and parents.
Click here for more info (choose - "look inside" to see the 1st two pages)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sport Coaches: Four Things Your Athletes Wish You Knew

As any career coach will agree, the best way to train a winning athlete is with creativity, fun and positive reinforcement… theoretically. The reality is, all that fun can be time consuming. The bridge between theory and reality is battered by the short time coaches have to produce results, the competing obligations of the athletes and a dozen other factors. Under that bridge lies the impatience of teachers, team directors, students and their parents. We have a name for the practical response most coaches have to this pressure: “Correctional Multi-Nagging”. To keep our heads above water and conserve precious time, trained coaches see errors made by the athlete and dutifully make the corrections...all of them - at once.  What else can you do, right?

With TAGteach the coach gives the athlete a very specific goal for each time they take their turn. This goal is called a tag point, and defines the precise movement that the coach will watch for and will reinforce with a tag if the athlete succeeds.

Here are four practical tips that TAGteachers know and that your athletes wish you knew about getting maximum performance in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of stress. Each tag point must meet these four criteria:
  1. Ask for what you do WANT. Be very clear about exactly what your athlete needs to do right in the next moment. Keep this instruction uncluttered by removing descriptions of the many ways it could be done incorrectly.
  2. Ask for ONE THING at a time. Think about what will be that one key element on which the athlete should put their full focus on the next try.
  3. Be sure that you can clearly OBSERVE the exact moment that the athlete meets your criteria for success.
  4. Formulate your final instruction to the athlete in FIVE words or less. This is all they will remember anyway as they go to take their turn, so make those final words count! Make sure these words tell the athlete the exact, specific detail that you will be watching for and that they should be thinking about.
Watch this video of a sport coaching session using TAGteach. There are lots of great coaching skills displayed by these coaches but most important of all is the WOOF factor. As you watch, notice how these skilled coaches  implement the four tips discussed here.

The click sound you hear in the video is the sound of success! We call this a tag. This tells the athlete that she has met the criteria set by the coach (the tag point) for that turn. Read more about tag points.

Learn More About the Extraordinary Power of TAGteach

Now available is a recorded webinar presented by Karin Coyne and Abigail Curtis along with TAGteach co-founders Joan Orr and Theresa McKeon on the topic of TAGteach for sport coaching. Sport coaching is where TAGteach got its start and where it truly excels. If you are a coach or an athlete this is must have information and a low cost way to learn about TAGteach.

Click here for more information or to register

Use the code ILOVETAGTEACH for 50% off until Thurs Nov 7, 2013 (price will be $9.97)

100% money back satisfaction guarantee

Because we want to get this information into the hands of more coaches, we will give you a discount code for you to give to your coach or your child's coach to access the recorded webinar for free. Coaches need to know this stuff! You will get an email with the free discount code after you register for the recorded webinar.

More Sports Posts

Monday, September 23, 2013

TAGteacher Tale: TAGteach - How Learning to Tag has Changed My Life

By Katie Scott-Dyer

Reprinted with permission from: http://blog.verypets.co.uk/
Who can spot me?

A bold statement but true nonetheless. I recently attended a 2 day TAGteach Primary Certification seminar in Bristol UK and it has revolutionised my thinking and strategies for coaching my own learners. Why? Because it cuts out all the blurry stuff, all the fluff and fuzz that can easily lose the learner in the fog of information.

This means that learners can have a clear goal or tag point, which is marked with an audible distinct sound such as the word tag or a clicker. This can be applied to any learner, be it human or animal. The instructions are finely sliced, the tag point is delivered in 5 words or less and gives immediate feedback of success to the learner at every tag point stage. It’s clear and simple learning with positive reinforcement, which can be tracked with a tagulator (beads on a string) that can be collected for a primary reinforcer or just the immediate success acts as a reinforcer for the learner. The science geeks among us know this as operant conditioning. OK so why the hooha about it changing my life?

I am on the Autism Spectrum. I’m both high and low functioning but have achieved a level of integration in ‘normal’ or neurotypical society because of my higher functioning attributes. It has been a difficult path to walk alone though. If TAGteach had been around when I was a kid I may have a had an even more successful, less frustrating, anxiety ridden childhood and been a higher achiever than I currently am. Plus I can still find it difficult to communicate clearly and effectively, even on relatively high functioning days. In class you can imagine the confusion which can arise from not delivering instructions efficiently to the learner. TAGteach will now be incorporated into my classes and has already been adapted into my coaching with measurable success. Having a tag point, clear determined goal which the learner can self select to personalise and even tag the teacher and each other is very empowering, makes the learning environment cooperative and progressive which can only be a good thing, right!

My gratitude to my TAGteach coach Theresa McKeon BA is infinte and I will always be indebted to the seminar organiser Sara Roberts KPA-CTP. Thank you ladies, my life will never be the same again! And being in the same room as some of the best animal and people trainers was inspiring too.

Learning never stops, I have a brain which mostly works but needs steering in the right direction at times so my aim is achieve Level 1 TAGteach certification. I had better crack on and get some TAGteach experience under my belt…

Here’s a link to the TAGteach International website, so you can see for yourself what I’m blathering on about: http://www.tagteach.com/

Thursday, September 19, 2013

TAGteacher Tale: Douglas Goes to Camp - The Magic of TAGteach in Action

Smiling teenage boy on swingsteenage boy smiling, wearing blue life jacket 

By Joan Orr, MSc

Doug is the subject of the book Chaos to Calm: Discovering Solutions to the Everyday Problems of Living with Autism, by Martha Gabler. Martha explains step-by-step in the book how she methodically taught Doug many simple and then more and more complex behaviors necessary for life in a busy family. She used TAGteach, an approach based on the science of behavior, to teach new behaviors to replace screaming, running around, self injury and other chaotic behaviors with which many autism parents struggle on a continual basis. All Martha's teaching used positive reinforcement to strengthen desired behaviors. Now Doug is 17 and his self-stimulatory behaviors are almost non-existent. He chooses to exhibit behaviors that he has learned and that have become more reinforcing for him than the chaotic and sometimes violent behaviors in which he engaged during what Martha refers to as "the dreadful early years". Doug at 17 is happy, affectionate and cooperative. He loves his math and reading lessons and he loves outdoor activities. This summer Doug went to Shadow Lake Camp for a week and his counselor was my daughter Anne Wormald who is a level 2 TAGteacher. Martha came prepared with a tagger and some treats that Doug likes and left him in Anne's capable hands. Anne had read Chaos to Calm, so she knew many of Doug's tag points. The other staff at camp looked after Doug while Anne was on break and they too learned to use TAGteach with Doug. He had the whole camp trained by the end of the week! Here is what one of the other counselors said about Doug:
"He's so cute and well-behaved! When you first gave me the tagger I was kind of unsure, but once you told me about how he was before and I used it, it became obvious that it really works. I really want to read the book!"
Doug's experience at camp is a testament to the power and effectiveness of TAGteach and the skill of Martha as a teacher. Martha was able to hand over her son, a tagger, some treats and some basic tag points and he was able to enjoy himself immensely at sleep away camp for a week with strangers. Anne kept in touch with me by text during the week with Doug. Here is a transcript of those messages:

camp texts 1
camp texts 2

Here are some videos of Doug having fun at Shadow Lake Camp. In the swing video, Anne is tagging him for "hands on". He had been letting go with both hands at the top of the upswing so she gave him a tag point for a behavior incompatible with the undesirable behavior. You can see from the video that Doug no longer needs to get a treat after every tag. He will in many circumstances defer the reinforcement in order to keep on doing a fun behavior. The swinging behavior itself is reinforcing to Doug and he would rather keep doing that, than stop to come and get a tictac after each tag. This is a good example of a learned behavior that has become self-reinforcing.

Click here to read more from Martha Gabler and how she taught Doug to be confident and cooperative enough to be able to enjoy himself at sleep away camp for a week with strangers.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

TAGteacher Tale: Out With the Rules, In With the Tag Points!

By Gwen Hunter

I recently convinced staff at a new program for families with children who present with a gamut of behavioral challenges (ADHD, OD, autism spectrum, etc.) to try TAGteach. After a few telephone conversations they invited me to come and observe their most challenging class of 6 kids. Wow, it was chaotic and, frankly, dangerous. The following week I met with staff after school for a couple of hours, passed out info on TAGteach. They were excited. This class was the following day so I asked them to make a list of the behaviors they didn't like below each student's name. Then we went over each item, added an = sign next to each, and came up with behaviors they'd like instead (what a helpful tool this is! Thanks for teaching it.) These became tag points. I gave them taggers and we decided on tictacs for primary reinforcers. They then split up the kids so that each of us would have two to tag. I was really nervous about this as in the past I'd only tagged when working one-on-one with a student plus I didn't know these kids, but we decided to approach this as a learning experience - which it certainly was!

Only two kids showed up - two were on a camping trip and the other two, twins, were at an appointment with their mom. The boy who showed up had only one 'negative' behavior on his list: "he hates to move," so his tag point was "adventure try." The girl who attended had several behaviors on her list: "launches herself," "unsafe," "interrupts," "loud voice." We did not come up for tag points for unsafe and body launching, but "raise hand to talk" and "level 3 voice" were tag points.

The teacher did a beautiful job of describing TAGteach and tag points. The girl was tagged for raising her hand and darn, it didn't feel right to not tag the boy who was sitting listening, so he was tagged for 'eyes on teacher.' This was a good way to deal with a possible inequity, where the child who has behavior issues gets lots of tags, while the child sitting quietly gets none. After explaining and demonstrating tag, the teacher asked the kids what they wanted to do. The boy was tagged for suggesting setting up an obstacle course (the kid who hates to move!), and he and the girl brainstormed ideas. The girl got lots of tags for "level 3 voice" and together and under their direction, we set up a challenging 10-part course involving pillows, swings, hammocks, a squeeze cow that shoots balls, a target, and a slide. WOW! The boy demonstrated the route first, which involved lots of moving! Tag points for the girl that addressed safety became obvious during this activity: "feet first," "ask adult for help," "warn when starting," "wait until B has finished." At the end of the hour, the boy reached into his pocket, pulled out a large handful of tictacs, looked up and me and said, "Look at all the tags I got!"

There were no behavior problems during this class, and after the kids left the staff was incredibly excited about the effectiveness of TAGteach! I pointed out the 'rules' list on the wall and suggested they change it (it was called Rules and involved lots of 'NO…."). Staff immediately took it down and replaced it with a list called TAG POINTS!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Seven Things a Behavior Analyst Learned from a Chicken

By Mary Lynch Barbera PhD, RN, BCBA-D

Excerpted with permission from barberabehaviorconsulting.com/chicken-camp/

Why Did I Go to Chicken Camp?

Why did I go to chicken camp? Like chickens, many of the children I work with including my 15- year-old son with autism, do not understand complex human language. Since becoming certified as a Level 1 TAGteacher in 2010 and after reading “Reaching the Animal Mind” by Karen Pryor around the same time, I have become convinced that the key for me to become a better Behavior Analyst was to learn more about animal training.

What Did I Learn at Chicken Camp?

  1. When teaching people, it is important not to jam too much information in every minute. During chicken camp we took a 10-minute break every 50 minutes. When we took our first 2 breaks (50 minutes after we got started and then another one hour later), I was thinking that these constant breaks were excessive. By the afternoon of the first day though I became to appreciate the frequent breaks, which led to excellent networking, a relaxed training environment, and happy “campers.”

  2. Reinforce early, not late. This is especially important for new/difficult behaviors. When we were first teaching our chicken to peck the red chip, for example, we were instructed by Terry to click as soon as her beak was going toward/almost touching the chip. I applied this in the past week when I was working with a 3-year-old client. We were having a difficult time “pairing up” the intensive teaching table so as soon as he started to approach/walk toward the table, I directed the therapist to turn on the iPad video. In the past, I might have waited until he was sitting to reinforce and we wouldn’t have been as successful.

  3. Don’t assume you know what the extraneous variables are to which the chicken or child may be responding. Since returning from chicken camp, I feel that I am much more aware how difficult it is to evoke target behaviors and reinforce immediately since we work in uncontrolled settings with multiple variables operating at all times.

  4. If you suddenly are not getting target behavior, the animal may need to rest, may be full, or may need to lay an egg. As a nurse and a behavior analyst, I am keenly aware that most of the kids we work with sometimes have physiological issues in addition to autism, which can be a factor.

  5. Short sessions are best to keep everyone on his or her toes. In addition to the humans taking breaks every hour, we also were careful not to overwork the chickens. With the chickens, we targeted a behavior for 30-60 seconds at a time, then picked up our chicken and re-grouped. We only repeated the short intervals for about 10 minutes then the chickens were put back in their cages for a drink and a rest. The chickens were not the only ones who needed a break every 30-60 seconds, since the instructors needed time to analyze what went right/wrong and to plan for the next interval.

  6. Don’t over-prompt by physically trying to move the chicken or by “luring” or “baiting” the chicken to do the task. For instance, to get the chicken to go around a cone, don’t put the food out so the chicken just moves for the food. Instead, reinforce head or leg movements in the right direction with a click (indicating the behavior was correct) followed by a food treat. In general, children with autism are physically prompted and “lured” too often. Since camp, I’m more aware that reinforcing successful approximations is a much better way to go!

  7. If the chicken is making repeated errors, the skill is too high and/or the reinforcement is too low. If the chicken/child is stuck on a program, he or she doesn’t have the prerequisite skills or you haven’t figured out how to teach the skills he/she needs. If you are not getting the target behavior, increase the reinforcement, reduce the field size, give a better prompt, or somehow look to make the task easier. Once the chicken/child is successful, you can ramp up from there. The idea that the chicken/student/child/trainee is never wrong was heavily reinforced during our 2-day chicken camp. If they don’t “get it” you are not “teaching/training” them correctly.
Watch this video of chicken training in action!

Click here to read the full article

For more information about chicken camp, visit legacycanine.com

Mary Lynch Barbera is the author of The Verbal Behavior Approach. Available from Amazon in print and Kindle formats.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TAGteacher Tale: TAGteach After Hip Surgey

By Luca Canver (Level 3 TAGteacher)

My father-in-law had a hip operation, with replacement of the femoral head, last May. This intervention, almost routine, includes a long rehabilitation phase: Using crutches, recovery of muscle tone and adopting good postures when walking. This is not easy, because in addition to the intervention, we must add the habit of poor posture (caused by pain to move the leg before the surgery). After the hospital days, and a first rehabilitation period, the person returns home with crutches to manage, correct posture to regain and therapy exercises to do.

Yikes, Information Overload! So I thought that TAGteach could be of help.

Tag Point #1: Toe on the Line

The first detail on which we focused keeping toes pointed straight forward. Seemingly an easy task, but to complicate the picture you must add the use of crutches. We started focusing on a single movement. Standing still we use, as target, the lines on the floor: We practiced the behavior "toes forward" isolating it from the rest of the movements and standing still. In the video, the tag point is: "Toe upon the line"

Tag Point # 2: Paired

In this kind of surgery patients are, obviously, required to use crutches. To optimize the loading of weights, crutches and arms are made to move in an unnatural way: moving at the same time the arm and leg on the same side of the body. For example: the right arm and right leg move in unison. An unnatural movement to focus on, while at the same time remembering the toe that needs to go straight all while adjusting to the use of crutches.

In the second video we have adopted a slightly different version of the cousin tag point: our attention was still focused on posture (toe forward), but we wanted to put it in the context of walking with crutches. For this reason the "toe forward" was included in the Directions. To help the person we used as a target a line on the asphalt (you can clearly see it in the video). The tag point has focused on moving parallel arm and leg. Aware of the difficulties of this I asked the person to label this behavior (a personalized tag point), so it was easier for him to process the information, freeing up a little bit of cognitive resources for toe forward. The answer was: “appaiati” ("paired" in English).

The directions are: "toe upon the line".

The tag point is "paired".

Editor's Note: You may have noticed two things about these videos: 
  1. The captions and the talking are in Italian, but it is easy for anyone of any language to understand what is going on. TAGteach translcends language barriers.
  2. The learner performed the task so easily that you might think, "What's the big deal?". In fact, TAGteach done well does look effortless and should. The skill of the teacher in breaking down the task, setting achievable tag points, starting from a point of success, creating a suitable environment and limiting the use of language to critical elements all work together to create the appearance of ease. Fantastico Luca!