Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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 Things 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 50% off pass for your coach or instructor.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Upcoming TAGteach Events - Learn to Be a More Effective Teacher, Instructor, Coach or Parent

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Apr 5-6, 2014
Location: Seattle WA
Get more info and register 

TAGteach Webinar: Fluency - Who Needs It?
Date: Apr 10, 2014
With Luca Canever
Get more info and register

TAGteach Webinar: How to Use TAGteach to Teach Handling Skills to Animal Shelter Staff and Volunteers
Date: May 6, 2014
With Marissa Marino
Get more info and register

TAGteach Webinar: A Winning Approach to Transforming Your Instructor
Date: May 20, 2014
With Joey Iversen
Get more info and register

Seminaro TAGteach
Date: May 17-18, 2014
Location: Arezzo, Italia
Informazioni e Iscrizioni

En kv√§ll om TAGteach med Eva Bertilsson
Date: May 22, 2014
Location: Halland, Sweden
mer information

TAGtots! for Parents and Teachers of Young Children
Seminario TAGteach per Genitori ed Educatori
Date: May 24, 2014
Location: Verona, Italia
Get more info and register/ Informazioni e Iscrizioni

TAGteach Advanced Workshop and Level 1 Certification
Date: May 29-30, 2014
Location: Birmingham UK
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jun 6-7, 2014
Location: Sornetan, Switzerland
Get more info and register 

TAGteach Advanced Workshop and Level 1 Certification
Date: Jun 8-9, 2014
Location: Sornetan, Switzerland
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jun 21-22, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jul 16-17, 2014
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jul 19-20, 2014
Location: Brisbane Australia
Get more info and register

TAGteach Advanced Workshop and Level 1 Certification
Date: Jul 22-23, 2014
Location: Brisbane Australia
Get more info and register

TAGteach Primary Certification and Training Seminar
Date: Jul 26-27, 2014
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Get more info and register 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everybody Needs Fluency!

By Luca Canever

How many times, during our lives, have we been told to "Pay attention"? At school, driving our cars, playing sports, at work, at home or crossing the streets. The world is constantly demanding our attention. The problem is that we shouldn't pay attention… At all!

D. Eagleman, in his book "Incognito, The Secret Lives of the Brain", wrote:
When athletes make mistakes, coaches typically yell: 'Think out there!' The irony is that a professional athlete's goal is NOT to think. The goal is to invest thousands of hours of practice so that in the heat of the battle the right maneuvers will come automatically, with no interference from consciousness. The skills need to be pushed down into the players' circuitry. When athletes ‘get into the zone’, their well-trained unconscious machinery runs the show, rapidly and efficiently.  Imagine a basketball player standing at the free throw line. The crowd yells and stomps to distract him. If he's running on conscious machinery, he's certain to miss. Only by relying on the overtrained, robotic machinery can he hope to drain the ball through the basket".
In my webinar "How the Brain Learns" I discussed some of the mechanisms used by the brain to learn. In this next webinar we will explore how the brain uses the learned information to attain that which should be the goal of every learning experience: Fluency. As Eagleman writes fluency allows us to perform difficult tasks even in noisy and distractive environments. We don't have to think about our behaviors. We, simply perform them. We don't think which muscles and joints we use when we walk. Try this experiment: stand up and take few steps forward, naming - or paying attention - to each single movement. Your performance will be poor and extremely slow. We don't pay attention, but we can walk to the kitchen efficiently to have a glass of water.

Fluency allows us to pay attention only to the new things: potential new threats or new reinforcers. All the rest runs smoothly, controlled by many other brain circuitries whose workings are largely unknown (do you have to think to breathe?).

How do we become fluent? The answer is rather simple: we need to practice. The more we practice the more we become fluent. But, practice is not just the repetition of an action. Deliberated Practice (as Dr. K. Anders Ericsson named it) is purposeful, with clear goals, and precise settings. It requires a great amount of self-sacrifice and great self-control to engage in this kind of practice. But, if you want to play with the Seattle Seahawks this is the only way. Obviously genes matter and if you're tall you will have more chance of playing for the Lakers. But, as we'll see genes aren't enough by themselves. You have to master the component skills of your discipline, put them together in complex behaviors and merge the behavior in stunning performances. AND, above all you have to find the practice reinforcing to keep going.

TAGteach is the perfect methodology to give us the reinforcing practice we deserve to explore our talents, and during the webinar we'll see how TAGteach methodology fits well in the theoretical scaffold scientists are discovering. We'll visit also some Renaissance painter's shops. Leonardo needed fluency to paint his Mona Lisa.

Click here to register for Luca's upcoming webinar: Fluency - Who Needs It? (Apr 10, 2014 3-4 PM EDT)

Register for the Fluency Webinar and you will get a 25% discount coupon for the recorded webinar: How the Brain Learns (not applicable on top of the member discount)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TAGteacher Spotlight - Marissa Martino

For the past 7 years, Marissa Martino has been working with dogs and their human companions in a variety of settings.  She started her career working for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, CO. There she implemented a Behavior Modification Program for shelter dogs with various special needs: such as fear, separation anxiety, resource guarding and dog-dog aggression.  After two years in Colorado, she moved to San Francisco to expand her horizons. There she started her position at the East Bay SPCA as the Director of behavior and training. During this time, she attended a Clicker Expo in California. There she attended a TAGteach seminar taught by Theresa McKeon.

After listening to Theresa and observing a TAGteach demo, Marissa was hooked! She loved how the emphasis of the seminar was on the human learner instead of the dog. As a dog trainer it is very important that we know how to train dogs; however, training the owner is even more important! The owner is the one living with the dog and following through with the training plan. If he/she does not fully understand the concepts and how to implement them, the dog’s behavior may not change or may even get worse. This is both detrimental to the trainer as well as the relationship between the owner and the dog.

During her time at the East Bay SPCA, Marissa has developed nine volunteer programs where volunteers have hands on experience with dogs and cats of the shelter. The main purpose of these programs is to enrich and enhance the lives of all involved, the dogs and cats as well as the volunteers. Marissa’s main priorities were to articulate how to safely handle shelter animals and empower the volunteers to make smart decisions during their shifts. She decided what hands on skills they needed to know and used the TAGteach principles to educate the volunteers. The feedback she received from the volunteers was astounding. They were able to remember the skills they had learned during their shifts since their education experience was simple, easy and fun! Marissa not only uses TAGteach in her curriculum designs but also in her everyday life and with her loved ones. She believes in its powerful messaging of identifying what you want people and animals to do, reinforcing this behavior and ultimately empowering the learner!                          

Join us for a webinar presented by Marissa on the topic of Teaching Handling Skills to Animal Shelter Volunteers on Tues May 6, 2014 at 11 AM EDT


$9.97 for TAGteach Members

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

TAGteach and Autism: The Time Has Come!

Hand holding clicker

By Martha Gabler MA 

The purpose of this article is to introduce you to a new type of support for children with autism: the acoustical support. Most people are familiar with adaptive equipment for children with physical disabilities such as wheel chairs, braces, and work platforms. In the autism community, most people are familiar with visual supports: picture systems, schedules, token boards, and so forth. These visual supports play a crucial role in educating children with autism and have proven to be extremely useful in both home and school settings.

Introducing the acoustical support

Now, for the “acoustical” support:  An acoustical support is a neutral sound: a tap, click or ping. The purpose of the sound is to inform a learner that he has done something right. The sound says, “YES, you did it.” The instructor, therapist or parent makes the sound at the exact moment that the child has performed a desired behavior. This behavior may be pointing to a picture of a cat, putting a puzzle piece into place, or, one of those rare beautiful flashes of meaningful eye contact or comprehension. As soon as the child has performed the task and the instructor has produced the sound, the child receives a treat (reinforcer). After a few trials, the neutral sound becomes a “conditioned reinforcer.”  Behavior scientist Karen Pryor explains, “A conditioned reinforcer is some initially meaningless signal—a sound, a light, a motion—that is deliberately presented before or during the delivery of a reinforcer.”

The child starts to pay attention

After a few experiences of hearing the sound and receiving a treat (reinforcer), the sound itself becomes meaningful for the child, and he starts to watch out for it. After the child is paying attention to the sound, he starts to pay attention to the behaviors that produced the sound. When he realizes that his own behaviors are producing the sound and the reinforcer, he learns to produce those desired behaviors more often. At that point, you have learning and communication! The use of a sound to signal success to the learner is called Teaching with Acoustical Guidance or TAGteach.

As a parent, when I started using a neutral sound (a “tag” or click) to indicate to my son which behaviors of his would earn treats, he started doing more of those behaviors. My son was loud, chaotic and wild in the early years. He had self-stimulatory and aggressive behaviors. With my conditioned reinforcer (sometimes referred to as an “event marker” or a “tag”), I was able to tag my child every time he did something good. “Good” things were behaviors like Quiet Mouth, Both Feet On The Floor, Hands Still, or Eye Contact. The procedure is: Observe child, press clicker (tag) when child performs the desired behavior, then reinforce child (give a treat or token).

Tantrum busting

The first time I ever used a TAGteach acoustical support, my son had just erupted into a tantrum, complete with shrieking, stomping and storming about. I tagged every split second of “Quiet Mouth” or “Both Feet On The Ground,” and handed him a tiny piece of candy with each “tag.” Twelve minutes later he was sitting quietly and calmly on the sofa, and we were able to go about our day. During those twelve minutes I said not a word and did nothing other than press the tagger and hand out tiny pieces of candy. It was easy to do, and the result was amazing. It was an incredibly empowering experience for me, compared to all the previous tantrums when I always felt panicky, demoralized and helpless. I never feared a tantrum or meltdown again because I had a powerful tool to help him calm down.

autism tagteach special needsMy son became more skilled and happier the more I tagged

The more I communicated with my son via tags and positive reinforcement, the more skills he gained and the happier and better behaved he became. Despite the lack of speech, despite the sensory issues, the tag rang loud and clear and told him he had done something good. He loved it and responded beautifully. He had many difficult behaviors, but I was able to tag a split second of a good behavior whenever it occurred, with the result that the split second became two seconds, then three seconds, then four seconds of the desired behavior, plus it occurred more often. Gradually I was able to “shape” disruptive behaviors into positive learning behaviors, and he gained many useful skills.

Clear, precise information for the child with no emotional or sensory burden

The reason the tag works so well is because of the precise information it provides to the child. It tells the child, in real time, exactly what he did that was right, at exactly the moment he did it. From the viewpoint of a child with autism, he receives precise, timely information from a neutral sound; there is no emotional burden, language processing or sensory issue to deal with. Thus the child is free to focus on the priceless information he is receiving: the wonderful knowledge that he has done something right.

The time has come for TAGteach for autism

The time has come for the use of acoustical supports in the autism community. There are many reasons. From an autism family's perspective, this method is wonderful because it is easy, effective and low cost. From an autism treatment perspective, this method is wonderful because it is based on the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. It is flexible, portable and wonderful for teaching in the natural environment as well as in structured settings. It is an invaluable tool for weary, dispirited parents, and for over-burdened instructors in the classroom. Thank you for reading to the end of this article! I hope you are interested in learning more about using acoustical supports for a child with autism. If you have questions, please contact me via the Questions for Martha link on her blog. For more information on TAGteach and autism please visit:  

About Martha

3D_Book_Image_no BackgroundMartha Gabler is the mother of a non-verbal teenager with severe autism. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Vassar College and a Master's degree from the George Washington University 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: Martha loves to hear from readers and to answer questions at her Facebook page.