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Stress Management for Living, Teaching, & Parenting

Checking for Understanding

Do all discipline conversations need to be private?


If 95% of the kids are attentively listening, but two boys are making faces to each other and laughing, clearly not paying attention, how do you refocus them without calling them out in front of the class?  I get that it’s more effective to ask them about their behavior, but I wonder if I can I do that in front of everyone? And can I do the follow-up questioning in front of the whole class as well? I can’t really pull them aside when I’m the one teaching! Help, please!


When you follow the DWS approach, you are asking the student to assess a level of behavior.  This has a different feel to it than “calling a … >>>


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 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, … >>>


With all these reflective questions, B students are getting all the attention!


I want to recognize my Level C and D students more but it seems that the B ones are getting all the attention; I keep having to asking them reflective questions!  For example, if they are all squirmy and loud in the hall I have been asking them, “Do you think your behavior is “up here?” (D/C),  or “down here?” (B/A).   Most kids will be honest and say they are “down here.” Then I might say, “What should we do if this problems continues?”  and the child tells me a consequence for their “down here” behavior.  This is  part of the philosophy––right?––eliciting consequences from the students? My fear is that my Level C and D … >>>


What if a student won’t acknowledge Level B?


I once had a grade 8 student who said, “It doesn’t matter what level I say I’m on, you’re always going to find a way to tell me that I’m on an unacceptable level.”

I’m wondering what a teacher might say in response to something like that?

RESPONSE from Tammy, shared on the DWS Mailring:

I’d probably ask, “Can you show me, then, how the behavior fits into a higher level?… >>>


Can you give me some examples of reflective questions?


Language is my biggest stumbling block. I know what I want to say but on the spur of the moment I often find it hard to put into words. As I develop new habits with this discipline approach, I sometimes feel a bit tongue-tied. Can you give me some examples of questions that don’t sound manipulative or coercive.


Developing new habits can be a challenge at first, but remember that any skill gets easier with practice! There are many questions in Dr. Marshall’s book that can be used to prompt reflection (pages 19-20.)

It’s important to remember that tone of voice is very important when asking questions, so as to avoid any sense of sarcasm or coercion.

Here … >>>

Dr. Marvin (Marv) Marshall
Phone: 714.220.1882
PO Box 11 Los Alamitos, CA 90720
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Phone: 559.329.5232