The Raise Responsibilty System

Books (picture) to introduce the Levels of Development


Here is a list of picture books to introduce the four levels of the Hierarchy of Social Development.
The bold books with the asterisk (*) are the ones I used when I developed and taught the levels.

Level A Books – Anarchy (not acceptable level)
*Miss Nelson Is Missing
by Harry Allard and James Marshall
Mean Soup, by Betsy Everitt
Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink, by Diane deGroat
Miss Nelson is Missing, by Harry Allard
We Share Everything, by Robert Munsch
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes
When Sophie Gets Angry Really Really Angry, by Molly G. Bang

Level B Books – Bullying and Bothering (not acceptable level)
*The Three Little Pigs
by James Marshall… >>>


Role-playing Level C – It’s a good idea!

Sherry, a fabulous grade six teacher at my school, mentioned to me one day that when she sees a child operating on Level B in her classroom, she uses the opportunity to do some role-playing.  After she has asked the student to assess the level of their own behavior (and they can accurately assess it as Level B,) she says very respectfully to the child, “Now, would you like an opportunity to try this again––operating at a higher level?”

This week I tried using Sherry’s idea in my grade one classroom.  Here’s one example:

Two boys sat down on the carpet near each other as we were getting ready to read a story. The boys weren’t right beside … >>>


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 … >>>


How can procedures be used when students misbehave?


I’m trying to get a handle on this whole concept of guided choices and procedures.  I guess I don’t really understand what a procedure is or how you would use a procedure when a student is misbehaving.  Can you give me an example?


Teaching procedures is teaching expectations.

Here is an example:

Rather than punishing students for walking down the hallway and talking without permission (against directions), students can be asked for suggestions.  The question can be put to them, “What can you do if you have the urge to talk?”

A student might volunteer, “Tell yourself not to talk.”  The teacher can respond that this is a good plan but will not produce success unless … >>>


Intermediate/High School – Goal Setting and “The Last Lecture”

Last week I spent an evening with Teresa, an old friend of mine who just happens to be a fabulous grade six teacher at a nearby school.  As it always does, our talk eventually turned to two of our favorite subjects––teaching and whatever good books we’ve read lately!

One thing I always admire about this friend is her ability to take an idea and run with it in the classroom.  She  inspires, elevates and motivates her students!  Teresa often bases interesting lessons for her grade sixes on some little item she’s found in the newspaper, something she’s heard on a radio talk show or something that comes from a good book she is reading herself.  She has a … >>>


High School/Adult Book- “Everyday Greatness”

I recently came across a book from the public library and thought that I’d pass along the title for those who enjoy reading about Level D!

The book is called “Everyday Greatness–Inspiration for a Meaningful Life.”  It’s actually a book of excerpts from Reader’s Digest that have been organized into various themes.  The Table of Contents looks like a list of virtues.  In each theme there is commentary by Stephen Covey and then some related quotes.

I find that I can more easily motivate my students when I feel motivated myself!  Reading stories about individuals who have acted from a place of internal motivation encourages me to think deeply about the value of such behavior.  In turn, this … >>>


Intermediate/High School Book- “Letters to a Bullied Girl”

I’d like to share a new book I recently signed out from my public library.

It’s called Letters to a Bullied Girl; Messages of Healing and Hope by Olivia Gardner with Emily and Sarah Buder.

Book Cover

Just as the title suggests, the book is filled almost entirely with personal letters––presented in an easy-to-read format.  The letters are all addressed to one of the authors, Olivia, expressing messages of encouragement to help Olivia get past the serious issues of bullying that she experienced for several years.

Olivia, now 15, suffers from epilepsy and was bullied relentlessly at school and on the Internet, to the point where she considered taking her own life.  In March of 2007, two sisters read about … >>>


Some “evidence” that Discipline without Stress really gets kids thinking!

This week I had a neat experience while teaching a grade 7 student at my newest job at the middle school. I just thought I’d share.

For those who don’t know me, I have three teaching positions, all of which are shared with the same partner. Darlene and I share a grade 1 classroom, each working one end of the week, and on our other days we share two literacy positions, working with individual students at an alternate high school and a regular middle school. It’s hectic but we love it!  At our high school and middle school jobs, we work with a great range of students, some struggling with courses like English 10, but most with much lower skill … >>>


Sharing My Latest Discipline without Stress Success!

Posted by J.E., a member of the Discipline without Stress mailring.

Here is my latest success:
Last Friday, three third graders left their homeroom in route to my class (science) and on the way, chose to yell and scream and play an impromptu game of tag. (At my school, we don’t walk the kids from class to class, and all the classroom doors lead outside, so they were coming across the playground.) Upon hearing the commotion, their homeroom teacher flew out of her room and wound up in front of mine, fuming at the gall of these kids.

Since she got there first, I let her handle it. She said, nearly yelling, “Which one of you children decided to … >>>


Focusing on the positive!

It seems that every year my teaching partner and I introduce the DWS Hierarchy a bit differently from the year before.  As we’ve become more familiar with the bigger picture of using DWS throughout the course of an full school year, we worry less and less about the initial introduction.  Over the years, we’ve experienced that the beginning lesson is not something we need to view as a “make or break” situation.  Our young students in grade one need many many “introductions” to the Hierarchy in order for all of them to really understand it, so we know that the the first lesson will simply be one of many to come.

This year though, our introduction of the Hierarchy came … >>>


Primary/Intermediate Book – “Snowflake Bentley”

I’d like to share a picture book by Jacqueline Briggs Martin that connects wonderfully to many different types of lessons.

Cover illustration

Snowflake Bentley won the Caldecott Medal in 1999.  It could be integrated into science, literature, a snow and winter theme, a study of biographies, symmetry, art and beauty, and in addition could be used to highlight Level D of the DWS Hierarchy.

Martin’s award-winning book tells the story of Wilson Bentley, who is sometimes referred to as “The Snowflake Man.”

By learning about the life of Wilson Bentley, students have the opportunity to think about someone operating at a very high level of autonomy.  This is always an inspiring thing to do!  Being a picture book, it is best … >>>


Primary/Intermediate Book – “Capyboppy”

Everyone knows the whimsical fantasies of Bill Peet, but you may not be familiar with his less well-known non-fiction book, Capyboppy. It’s one of my all time favorite children’s books!

Cover illustration

Capyboppy is the true story of a South American capybara that was brought into the Peet home by Bill’s oldest son, a natural science major in college. Capy––who eventually grew to be 75 pounds––lived with the four members of the Peet family as a much loved and much spoiled pet!

Capyboppy is a great two-day read-aloud for younger children. With a large black and white illustration on every one of its 62 pages, it’s also the perfect book for transitioning older students into reading … >>>


High School/Adult Book – “The Paradoxical Commandments”

I just got a book out of the public library titled, ANYWAY – The Paradoxical Commandments; Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World by Kent M. Keith.

In this book, the author tells the story of how the Paradoxical Commandments came to be written. They are sometimes attributed to Mother Teresa but were in fact written by an American, Kent Keith. As a 19 year old in 1968, he wrote them to inspire young people to leave their mark on the world by making it a better place.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.>>>


Choice-Response Thinking – In a Poem!

Recently I came across this poem by Portia Nelson.



by Portia Nelson



I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.


What is a Level B TEACHER?


I understand what a Level B student is but sometimes I hear teachers asking, “Do you want me to become a Level B teacher?” Can you explain what this is all about?

One important understanding students receive when the teacher introduces the Discipline without Stress Hierarchy in the beginning of the year is that people can in effect, choose the type of relationship they wish to have with other people, including the authority figures in their life.

Good relationships are created by operating on Level C. For those who choose to operate on Level D–the highest level–relationships will be even better and more satisfying. Students are also introduced to the understanding that frequent operation on Level B … >>>


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?… >>>


Primary Book – “The Little Red Hen”

Just like people, book characters often operate on more than one level!

Very often, the author has at least one character learn something about the discouraging outcomes of operating at the lower levels. In many cases, the character is transformed in some way during the course of the story.

Whenever I read such a book to children, I highlight this transformation by connecting it to the DWS Hierarchy.

  • What did this character learn as the result of experiencing or observing the outcomes of operating on a lower level?
  • What can we learn from this character’s experiences?
  • How might what has happened in this situation, affect how this character chooses to act in the future?
  • Have you ever had a
>>> READ MORE >>>

How do students benefit from operating on Level C or D?

Dr. Marshall says that we should teach students that in this system of discipline, operation on Levels A and B “automatically invites the use of authority” by the teacher. My students understand that continued operation on the lower levels will result in the use of authority. They see this as a good reason for raising the level of their behavior to something higher.

Now I’m wondering: Is there anything that “automatically” accompanies behavior on Levels C and D?

Yes! Firstly, it should be understood that operation on any one of the four levels of the Hierarchy is accompanied by logical and predictable results related to:

• self-esteem and;
• the quality of relationships that are created with authority … >>>