As our video presenter indicated, behaviorist theory relies on reward and punishments-- the basis of operant conditioning. While we are not resorting to shock collars and food pellets, we do essentially the same thing with our words and actions in the classroom. In the text, a major focus is on providing appropriate feedback. When we give a simple "good job" or "that's correct," we have just given a small positive reward to encourage that behavior. Similarly, when we enact any of our stated-and-posted classroom rules/policies/practices due to some misbehavior, there is a negative consequence.
For me however, student success in my subject area (high school math) cannot be just about getting the right answer and small behaviorist viewpoints on teaching & learning. In all my lessons, I seek not only to educate students in the content, but to also help them regain their lost abilities of: being curious, wanting to learn, needing to know "why," and striving to succeed. I wish there were a way I could help students survive 5th-8th grade without that joy of learning being squashed out of them. It is a big job to dig it back out once it has been put away!
However, behaviorist theory can still help me in this quest, for it is often a student's perception of their abilities that controls their actions. Most of us will avoid doing things that make us look foolish, awkward, or stupid. For teenagers, that list of "things" can be almost infinite, and school tasks are no exception. So, I ask a lot of "duh" questions during class- if a student finds themselves thinking "duh" when I ask the question, it means they are probably right! This leads to a series of personal successes that build self esteem and confidence. Then, I work to help students transfer that success into bigger successes with problem solving and increased test scores. That whole process is operant conditioning-- the gradual reinforcement of desired behaviors to encourage those behaviors to be repeated.