Year in review

Before the new year many people reflect on the past year’s events. This late date in late December finds me doing the same thing. As a Precision Teacher I tend to look at life as I do through the lens of our applied science – behavior and events occurring in time. Indeed, our life’s work and what we mean to others boils down to our behavior in time.

At the end of the year when we reflect, sometimes we recall very poignant moments in time where we read about or experience extraordinary behavior (e.g., Lebron James winning his first professional championship in basketball; receiving a college degree during graduation). Other times the opposite holds true where an individual’s behavior shocks and greatly saddens us (e.g., The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut; experiencing a failed relationship). On a personal level we experience the products of what other people do or say and it can greatly affect our personal or professional development. As a Precision Teacher I list some of the events and behaviors in time that highlight 2012.


This past year the Precision Teaching community loss one of its icons, Owen Roberts White (1945-2912). Owen had an incredibly distinguished career in Precision Teaching (PT), behavior analysis, and special education. Owen mentored students, published important articles, wrote seminal books, delivered insightful presentations, and always had a smile and a conversation ready to go for whomever he would talk to. My personal regret has to do with not spending as much time with Owen as I could have. Owen lived in Washington while I lived in Pennsylvania. But in today’s age with e-mail, instant messaging, and Skype distance should never come between good friends and colleagues.

The deepest and most profound questions I could ever think of received an answer from Owen. For example, how do we really know we live in the multiply-divide world rather than an add-subtract world. In other words when we examine phenomenon such as behavior it changes by multiplying and dividing, not adding and subtracting. I wish I could have taped the two-hour conversation I once had with Owen when he explained how the function of behavior, mathematically speaking, best fits the changes we see (along with all of his wonderful examples). Owen not only had wonderful technical answers but he also revealed wisdom which I found personally humbling. I speak for myself and all Precision Teachers – Owen you will be dearly missed. The Precision Teaching community will honor your memory by building upon all the lessons you left us with. And when we discover the answers to deep mysteries or solve day-to-day problems through our wonderful measurement system, we connect to you and the information you left for all of us; behavior in time we will never forget.


Precision Teaching has an annual conference which began in the 80s and endures to this day. The most recent conference occurred in early December held in Chicago; an impossibly beautiful city with the brisk winter air and bright lights adorning the buildings in a festive holiday display. The conferences provide an opportunity for new and veteran members to share data, ideas, and experience fellowship with like-minded measurement enthusiasts. In this blogger’s personal opinion the 2012 conference marked one of the best, if not the best, gathering we have ever had. I felt moved by this past year’s conference due to the large numbers of students and first-time members joining us. Additionally the information rose to a level of such fine technical detail that I felt acutely disappointed I couldn’t attend all sessions. The PT conference session content centers on applying top rate measurement procedures to socially significant behavior, this past year was no exception.

One session I attended by Elizabeth Haughton demonstrated how to use the “fluency bank.” The fluency bank refers to an individual’s collection of fluent behaviors. Different motivational strategies can occur with the fluency bank. For example Elizabeth explained that when her students would have 20 entries in the behavior bank they would receive $20. Elizabeth also shared that as part of her tutoring business she determined she spent over $5,000 paying students back for learning. Elizabeth’s data and charity was glorious. I cannot remember experiencing a more inspirational session; Standard Celeration Charts showing learners growing and Elizabeth delighting in rewarding her students (Elizabeth is my personal hero). The value that the parents received, not to mention the students, for the tutoring sessions and the fluency bank are life long contributions. Students who become fluent with more and more skills have an expanded repertoire of behaviors ready for handling complexity and new challenges. What a wonderful idea banking a student’s individual fluent behaviors.


In May of 2012 Kirsten and myself published The Precision Teaching Book. The book took two long years to complete and many hours of writing, researching, rewriting, having meetings, and doing more rewriting and writing. The picture above shows our exceptional copy editor Malcolm Neely delivering a speech upon receiving the Ogden R. Lindsley Lifetime Award Achievement. Malcolm spent a great deal of time looking for typos and ways for us to grammatically improve our message. But more importantly Malcolm reviewed the content and substance of what we tried to share. Namely, the vast information base discovered about and through PT. Malcolm’s edits always came across as informative but delivered in a nonjudgmental and gentle manner. Everyone should experience the good fortune of having a Malcolm in their life.

The genesis of the book means Precision Teachers have another source to learn how to practice a rigorous and elegant measurement craft. Additionally, Precision Teachers can appraise the logical and experimental justifications surrounding the superior measurement and graphical display system that is Precision Teaching.

Moving forward

My sincere hope for 2013 and beyond lies in showing others what Precision Teaching has to offer. The moments in time that will ultimately define each one of us in 2013 and beyond can be positively influenced by PT. The child who cannot read deserves core reading behaviors pinpointed, accelerated, and integrated into a well rounded decoding and comprehension repertoire. The partner or spouse who has a particular behavior that interferes with a fully realized relationship can count, chart, and decide what works best to improve their deceleration pinpoint. I learned from my dear mentor John Cooper that both inner and outer behavior fall within the bounds of a science of behavior and the concomitant measurement science Precision Teaching.

Whatever personal or professional goal you have for 2013 and beyond consider getting to know Precision Teaching better. You will learn how to find a solution through a process of first carefully pinpointing a real behavior. Next, you will precisely time and count the pinpoint. After the data are born, they immediately find a home on the Standard Celeration Chart where the distinctive and powerful visual display system tells you exactly what is happening (small changes always appear small and large changes show up as large – this is not always true with other time series charts). Many analytical strategies and interventions will come to bear upon your special data. Finally you will engage in a process where you continually monitor the behavior and determine if your intervention has worked (i.e., recursive problem solving).

Helping to improve yourself, your loved ones, or people you work for (students, clients) is a noble endeavor. The time proven method of Precision Teaching forces a revolution of careful attention directed to the measurement process of behavior. At present too few professionals experience the benefit from the innovations realized from PT.  But on a personal level you can change that for the people that matter. I encourage you to consider picking up some PT literature, joining SClistserv, or directly posting to the community forums on this website. Help, after all, comes in many forms.

On behalf of Kirsten and myself we hope all your acceleration pinpoints grow in 2013. And with that growth we wish all your moments in time are pleasing and meaningful to you and your loved ones.

Rick Kubina

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