Discipline Answers

List of “Rights and Responsibilities” created by high school students

Dr. Marshall suggests that it is important to replace rules with procedures and expectations.

Recently I took time to ask about a list of Rights and Responsibilities I noticed hanging on the wall of one alternative high school site that I visit regularly in my position as literacy teacher.  I learned that a number of years ago a former teacher had helped the students (aged 14-16) to write it.  Ever since, the school has used it as a reference point for discussing success at school.  As well, whenever a new student is transitioned into the school, teachers begin with this list of rights and responsibilities to introduce the expectations and procedures of the school to the young person and … >>>


How can I let those Level D “wonders” know they are wonderful?


I have 5 kids in my second grade class who take most of my attention because of their misbehavior.  I feel so badly for the other students who are on task and listening, because honestly, they don’t get very much of my attention.  I try to point out what Level D looks like and give these great students more freedom but still I don’t feel that’s enough.  How can let these wonders know that they are being wonderful?


We often had discussions about this on my staff years ago.  Some of us were starting to feel uncomfortable with rewards, awards and trophies etc.,  but our principal at the time felt that the “good kids never got anything.” He … >>>


Thoughts shared on the success of using the DWS Principles

The following story was shared by teacher, Marie Swift, regarding the power of using the three DWS Principles; Positivity, Choice and Reflection.

I would like to share a situation that happened recently in my Grade One class.  I have been using DWS for a few years now I firmly believe that we have to approach behavior issues as learning opportunities.  Although I must admit that sometimes it is difficult for me to remain focused on using positivity, choice and reflection in all situations, here’s the growth one child experienced in my class as a result:

All of my students were sitting with me at the carpet working on a math lesson recently.  After sending them back to continue the … >>>


Student who passively refuses to answer reflective questions.

QUESTION (Part One):

I’ve heard you say “The person who asks the questions controls the conversation.” However, I have a child in my first grade class this year who refuses to answer any of my reflective questions.



If you are not happy and would like me to help you, let me know what you would like me to do. There is no hurry; take your time. I’ll be here to help you when you want me to help.”

If you would like me to help you find a friend, let me know.

If you want to talk to me alone, just let me know.

QUESTION (Part Two):

Since he does not respond, I eventually feel forced … >>>


How often should I be eliciting a consequence?


When a child does something they shouldn’t, I follow DWS and elicit the consequence from them.  There have been times however when I’ve been faced with children who don’t know how to think and apply consequences.  What do you suggest?


Elicit a consequence only when a youngster has done something that is rather drastic in nature. In the vast majority of times aim at eliciting a procedure.

Think of a youngster as a young adult who has just not achieved that stature. You want to help the person redirect impulses. Create a visual procedure to help the younger help him/herself. An example is at this link.
>>> READ MORE >>>

How do you do this with a whole class?


I’m having trouble picturing how the DWS process can be done with an entire class at once.  I can see how the conversation works with one child but how would you deal with a whole class that is misbehaving?  Do you ask each child to tell you what level they’re on?

RESPONSE (from a member of the DWS mailring):

DWS works pretty much the same whether you’re dealing with the whole class, a small group, or just one child. The same 4 layered steps of the Teaching Model apply.   The same 3 steps of the Raise Responsibility system are used when necessary.  When you address the whole class, often one or two kids spontaneously take on the responding role, … >>>


Reflective Questions

Just a Small Sample from the Resource Guide

Are you willing to try something different if it would help you?

How would you like things to be? (Meaning: What do you want?)

Does it feel as if we’re moving forward here, or does it feel as if we’re stuck?

What would you have to do if you wanted to move forward in this situation?


Do you want to be in charge of you or have someone else be in charge of you?

Do you want me to be a Level B teacher?

What would a Level B teacher probably do now?

Effective and ineffective question are on pages 53 – 58 of the … >>>


Procedures to Consider

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT has to do primarily with how things are done to make teaching and learning more efficient and effective.

Procedures should be taught before teaching content. A major mistake so often made is assuming that students know what to do without first teaching procedures.

Chances are that when you walk into a room, you do not pay much attention to the floor. But if it were missing, you would certainly notice the situation. The analogy works for classroom management. You don’t notice it when it is good. However, the lack of it is readily apparent because the teacher spends unnecessary time with discipline problems.

Unless PROCEDURES are explained, practiced, and reinforced, discipline problems will increase.

Following … >>>


Positive Classroom Management

An Interview about Positive Classroom Management
with Larry Ferlazzo

I began a new feature called “Interview of The Month” where I interviewed various people in the education world about whom I wanted to learn more.

This month, my guest is Dr. Marvin Marshall. His ideas on positive classroom management have been a huge influence on my classroom practice. I strongly encourage people to subscribe to his free monthly newsletter, Promoting Responsibility & Learning.

Here’s our interview:

You’ve been advocating for a more positive approach towards classroom management for quite awhile. What got you thinking about it originally, and how would you summarize it in a few sentences?

We now know how the brain operates as it relates to emotions. First … >>>


Curriculum, Instruction, Management, and Discipline

Gain a clear understanding of the differences in
order to pinpoint the cause of a problem.

Curriculum refers to what is taught.

Instruction has two parts: teaching and learning.

A) What the teacher does
It is the teacher’s responsibility to make the curriculum interesting, relevant, meaningful, and/or even fun. Activities that create interest, challenge, inspire creativity or are personal are excellent approaches. A good starting point is for the teacher to ask, “Why am I teaching this?” and then share the reasons with students.

Every lesson should have planned time for reflection in order to enhance understanding, reinforcement, and retention.

B) What students do
Learning that is retained requires active involvement. We remember:

10% of what … >>>


Classroom Management Rules


Rules are meant to control, not to inspire.

Rules are necessary in games. Between people, however, rules result in adversarial relationships because rules require enforcement. In addition, rules are often stated in negative terms and imply an imposed consequence if not followed.

Rules place the teacher in the position of the enforcer, a cop, wearing a blue uniform with copper buttons—rather than that of a teacher, coach, mentor, facilitator of learning, or educator.

Enforcing rules often results in power struggles that rarely result in win-win situations or good relationships. Relying on rules often prompts counterwill (the human tendency to resist coercion) and produces reluctance, resistance, resentment, rebellion, and even retaliation.

Upon analysis, you will see … >>>


Attention Management

A procedure is essential for gaining students’ attention. Much instructional time is lost and teacher stress is increased without some procedure.

A procedure is described below for quickly obtaining students’ attention.

View the visual, Attention Management, and let students know that this is the procedure you will use to get their attention. Raise a hand showing “give me five” (two eyes on the teacher, two ears listening, and one mouth closed). (The visual is on page 97 of the Resource Guide.)

Explain that you will continue teaching when ALL hands are raised. If someone has not raised a hand, it is the students’ responsibility to prompt that person to follow the procedure.

Second, when you … >>>


Just 5 Minutes of Relationship

I had an interesting experience on Thursday evening during my Parent Teacher Interviews which were to be “student led.”

I prepared a typical list of classroom areas for parents and child to visit on a “Kindergarten Tour” and the children practiced explaining about activities we do at each one.  Things like:  “Here is my book box.  I’ll read you some books that I’ve made.”

During several of the interviews, older siblings attended.  While some of these intermediate students respected that their younger brothers and sisters deserved the limelight at this time, others did not. One grade 5 boy in particular was a problem.  At first he was just traveling around the room at great speed, but very quickly he moved

>>> READ MORE >>>

Picture book for all grade levels – “So Close”

Here’s a very simple picture book with a poignant message that can be appreciated by readers of any age.  It’s brilliant!

Told in just 7 sentences it is the quintessential story of  “what might have been.”  It will touch your heart and inspire you to reach out to others!

Cover Illustration

Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit are neighbors.

Every day they pass––yet never once does either of them notice the other, let alone smile or say hello.

Day after day, season after season, good weather or bad, happy mood or sad, the two pass without so much as a word or a glance; each lost in his own thoughts.

We witness them…

rushing by,

strolling by,

biking by,

always … >>>


Should I put the kids’ names on the Levels of Development with clothespegs?


I’d like to put my student’s names on clothespegs and then move them to different Levels of Development chart if they misbehave or do something at a high level?  Does this fit with the Discipline Without Stress approach?


Although it might seem as if clothepegs on the Levels of Development chart create a concrete visual to help remind children that they always have choices with regard to their level of operation, putting student names on the Levels of Development would not be compatible with the Discipline Without Stress philosophy.

Here are some reasons why I personally wouldn’t choose to attach student names to the levels:

  • It’s not possible for any person to judge the motivational level of another.  
>>> READ MORE >>>

Rules vs. procedures – Isn’t this just a matter of semantics?


I usually involve the students in the creation of classroom rules.  To me, we are just agreeing upon how we can make our classroom a safe and fun place to be. I don’t know if it’s really so different from a Discipline without Stress approach of having procedures, but “no rules.”  Isn’t this just a matter of semantics?


My teaching partner and I used to have “classroom rules” and like you, we routinely planned a time for kids to create the rules on the first day of school. In my experience this approach produced a different type of thinking within my own mind than the mindset created when I started to experiment with “procedures” rather than rules.  For … >>>




I’ve read the book and understand the point of internal being more important that external. However, I teach in a self-contained class with kids that are moderately cognitively delayed. I will have kids with autism and some with oppositional defiant disorder too. They will not have internal motivation for a while (they CAN get it, for sure, but I do worry about the meantime.) Currently I use a level system and there are privileges on each level. I’ve also been reading DWS and Love and Logic just to help me pump up the positive and put more responsiblity on the students. I already do this stuff quite a bit, and it is the way I raise my own children.  … >>>


Important information to consider when planning/teaching procedures.

In his book, The First Days of School; How to Be an Effective Teacher, classroom management guru, Harry Wong, quotes research conducted by Madeline Hunter.  He asks us to consider the following information:

  • For a child to learn something new, you need to repeat it on the average 8 times.
  • For a child to unlearn an old behavior and replace it with a new behavior, you need to repeat the new behavior on the average  28 times.
  • 20 of those times are used to eliminate the old behavior and 8 of the times are used to learn the new behavior.

The implication of this information is enormous:

There is great value in thinking out your classroom procedures carefully before … >>>