Classroom Procedures, “Democracy” and Democratic Classrooms


I attended your session at the Brain Expo in San Diego. I have put your ideas into practice in my classroom and am now researching the pitfalls of behaviorism and rewards and consequences for my Master’s Degree.

I am looking at the variables of an autocratic classroom that uses rewards and consequences and a democratic classroom that uses expectations, choice, and reflection in classroom management.


I shy away from describing a classroom as “democratic.” I use the term, “Democracy,” for level D because democracy and responsibility are inseparable—and the prime purpose of the Hierarchy is to promote responsibility. I know that some teachers use the phrase, “democratic classroom,” but I think this carries the implicit message that the students, rather than the teacher, are the the primary source for directing the learning.

There is also a little confusion in the second paragraph above regarding the comment of “… EXPECTATIONS, CHOICE, and REFLECTION in classroom management.”

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT has to do with structure, routines, rituals, and procedures. See  Classroom Management. In contrast, the  Raise Responsibility System Hierarchy promotes EXPECTATIONS; offering CHOICES increases effectiveness and improves relationships; and prompting REFLECTION is the most effective approach to promoting change in behavior. But they are not part of teaching procedures, which is the foundation of classroom management.

Harry Wong and I both gave presentations at the annual convention of the Association of Teacher Educators. This is an association of college and university professors who teach future teachers. Dr. Wong’s entire keynote had to do with teaching procedures. One comment he made should be heard by every teacher who assigns homework. As an award-winning and nationally recognized outstanding classroom teacher, he never assigned homework (home assignments) until the third week of school. His students were taught procedures regarding how to set up the homework and how to do it. After students knew precisely how to “attack” the challenge, had practiced doing homework in class, had reinforced the procedure—only then was homework assigned. The result: Rarely was a homework assignment not turned in. WHAT A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND THE NUMBER OF PROBLEMS THE VAST MAJORITY OF TEACHERS HAVE WITH THIS ASPECT OF LEARNING!