Monmouth's Ask The Doctor March-April 2020

What Is Tootling In The Classroom? By Lauren Kowlacki Tootling is like tattling but refers to the reporting of only positive, rather than inappropriate, social behaviors. The exact definition of Tootling is “a classroom-based intervention used to increase peer prosocial behaviors, particularly offering and receiving help, while decreasing negative and disruptive peer interactions.” Since children quickly learn to report and comment on bad behavior, i.e., tattling, there is a new effort to stop this natural reaction by progressive educators. These educators are teaching children to turn the same reporting behavior into “tootling,” where children learn to report positive be- havior and gestures by their peers. Tootling has begun to be being used in many classrooms as well as group therapy groups. This new and innovative approach has been very well received by both teachers and children. Teachers have reported it being very successful in building rapport between classmates and also has en- hanced peer relationships. Much research has found that tootling reinforces posi- tive behavior in students. As children focus on being posi- tive about their own and their neighbor’s behavior, it helps improves the whole classroom. Other benefits include: • Clinicians and teachers focus on praise of appropri- ate and on-task behavior, instead of negative behav- ior. • Demonstrates that even students with problem be- haviors can still be viewed in a positive manner. • It encourages peers to report positive behaviors by rewarding students for reporting the desired behav- ior from struggling peers who are often ostracized for their difficult behavior. • An increase in the number of positive interactions occurring spontaneously in the classroom. No doubt does positive reinforcement help and build confidence for a child who is struggling academically and socially. Students with problem behaviors are often ostra- cized by their more appropriate peers. Tootling helps chil- dren recognize and praise pro-social behavior in a strug- gling peer and creates tolerance. The more this is done in the classroom, the more of a habit it will become for all the children that will lay the groundwork for adulthood compassion as well.

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