Jim Collins' book, "GOOD TO GREAT: WHY SOME COMPANIES MAKE THE LEAP AND OTHERS DON'T," is a very popular book on leadership. I heard him interviewed, and I quote his final thought regarding leadership as applied to schools.
"You can take away blackboards, you can take away the computers, you can take away the administration, and you can take away the building. You can take away everything. It all happens in that magical intersection of a wonderful teacher and a student. And when you get that happening SYSTEMATICALLY, that is ultimately what really turns the wheel."
With this in mind, I share a letter I received:
Dear Dr. Marshall:
This letter is a follow-up to your presentation for our staff at McFadden Intermediate School. In that workshop, you introduced our staff to the "Discipline Without Stress" system. Whether the people who use it call it a system, a method, or a philosophy is not nearly as important as what happens when an entire school embraces it, teaches it. By using your methodology school-wide, we have transformed our school. Thank you seems inadequate, yet it is a sincere thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, that you deserve.
After your presentation, we decided to devote the first four days of the new school year to teaching the levels of development to each and every student in our school. Dr. Marshall, we have a different school this year! Our office referrals have been cut by more than half from the year before. Students look each other in the eye, look the adults in the eye, and sincerely ask how the day is going. When problems occur in the classroom, each and every student knows the levels of development and are able to articulate exactly where things have gone awry and what they are doing to correct the inappropriate behavior. One of our teachers questioned how we were able to ever operate without your approach. I wholeheartedly agree. The climate at McFadden is positive, a climate of mutual respect, a climate of togetherness and cooperation rather than "us" versus "them."
There is no doubt in our minds that you are, indeed, an expert in your field, and one who has been truly instrumental in helping our whole school concentrate on the art of teaching rather than the art of keeping order. We are forever grateful to you for your insight into adolescent and adult minds, for helping us change negatives to positives, and for helping us to renew our dedication to teach. You are a wonder!
If you have an opportunity, please feel free to drop by the school and walk the halls with me. I think you will like the way we have implemented "Discipline Without Stress" in a very short amount of time. Wow!
I visited the school shortly after receiving the letter and marveled at how 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students walked the halls so orderly and quietly. When the tardy bell rang, the halls were empty. Every student was in class. Mrs. Severy commented that this never happened before implementing Discipline Without Stress.
If you have contact with middle schools or parents of middle school students, please take a moment and share this communication with them.
You can see Esther speak about her experiences by visiting http://marvinmarshall.com.