At a presentation in St. Louis yesterday, June 12, 2012, I was asked a question about having hard evidence for the success of “Discipline Without Stress.”
In order to accurately assess the program, it is necessary to validate that all parts of the system be implemented. Specifically,
I. Did the teacher model, teach, and reinforce procedures? (the essence of good classroom management) Or did the teacher ASSUME students knew what to do? This is one of the most common mistakes of teachers.
II. A. Was the teacher positive in communications with students?
II. B. Did the teacher stop coercion and empower students with choices?
II. C. Did the teacher ask reflective questions to prompt change?
III. A. Did the teacher teach the four levels of social development?
III. B. If a student acted irresponsibly, did the teacher check for understanding to have the student acknowledge the level chosen?
III. C. If inappropriate behavior continued, did the teacher ELICIT a procedure or consequence from the student—or did the teacher IMPOSE a punishment?
These three parts have to do with promoting responsible behavior, without even yet mentioning Part IV of the system having to with motivating students to put forth effort in their learning.
I am deeply invested in the teaching of W. Edwards Deming, the international guru who showed Japan how to increase quality while reducing costs. His principles of collaboration (vs. competition), continual improvement, and empowerment of workers is now used around the world. He also believed, as I mentioned in my current e-zine, the most important factors cannot be quantified. There are just too many variables.
How does one quantify success, love, honesty, etc.
In addition, my perspective is that the social sciences would like to increase their professional ranking, which has led to the often stated qualifier, “Research says. . . .” All research in the social sciences is subjective. The social sciences cannot, by their very nature, replicate the natural sciences. My experiences have also led me to the belief that research in the social sciences confirms common sense or is foolish, e.g., “research shows there is no difference between males and females except in their upbringing.”
There is another consideration. NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND does NOT exclude research that is not based on the scientific model of a “control” and an “experimental” group. However, most educators think it does. The law encourages such research but does not mandate it.
Having made a case against the inadequacy of hard evidence, there are areas that can be measured—such as reduced office referrals, reduced suspensions, and increased student attendance. However, these do not communicate the total picture.
When a student needs assistance in reading, we help. When a student needs assistance in math, we help. When a student needs assistance to behave more responsibly, what do most teachers do? If teachers have the mindset that a student acts irresponsibly because of some problem or frustration AND that is an opportunity to help the child, I believe that the 50% of teachers who leave teaching within five (5) years would dramatically decrease.
Some samples of evaluations are on the charity site. But in a presentation, I am interested in changing teachers’ mindsets and have them become aware that they are in the relationship and motivation professions. People simply do not buy from people they dislike and students today need to be motivated, as indicated by so many teacher complaints that kids today are apathetic when it comes to learning. (In the presentation I give a number of examples of how to reduce such apathy.)
However, it was a lesson learned, and I have gained by it.