Having a Teaching System is Better than Having a Talent for Teaching

Working in Harlem under contract for three years with the New York City Board of Education taught me an invaluable lesson: Having a teaching SYSTEM is far superior to talent when a teacher faces challenging behaviors in the classroom.

The assistant superintendent and I were very impressed while observing a teacher one year. We agreed that the teacher was a “natural.” However, when I visited the teacher the following year, she told me that three boys were such challenges that she could use some assistance.

Even teachers with a “natural talent” are challenged by student behaviors that teachers in former generations did not have to deal with. To retain the joy that the teaching profession offers and to reduce one’s stress, having a SYSTEM to rely on can help significantly. THE DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS TEACHING MODEL describes such a SYSTEM. It contains four phases:


The first phase differentiates classroom management from discipline. CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT is about teaching, practicing, and reinforcing procedures and is the teacher’s responsibility. DISCIPLINE, in contrast, is about self-control and impulse management and is the student’s responsibility.


This second phase describes three universal principles to inspire and induce students to initiate their own changes. The principles are POSITIVITY, CHOICE, and REFLECTION. Using just these three principles can change a person’s personal and professional life.


This third phase describes THE RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM. It starts with being PROACTIVE by teaching a hierarchy of four (4) concepts or Levels of Development. The hierarchy inspires students to WANT to behave responsibly. This is in contrast to the usual approach where the teacher reacts only AFTER an irresponsible behavior. Teaching a lesson at the outset that has students WANT to behave responsibly reduces stress and is both more efficient and effective.

After teaching the concepts, CHECKING FOR UNDERSTANDING is used when a disruption occurs. If misbehavior continues, then GUIDED CHOICES are used to help the student develop a procedure to help him/herself—or in severe cases, to elicit a consequence. The approach is totally noncoercive (but not permissive) and employs internal motivation—rather than relying on shorter-lasting external manipulations of threats, punishments, or rewards.


This phase has students becoming motivated to put forth effort to increase learning—without the teacher’s use of any external motivators. Instead, the teacher refers to the four (4) concepts of the hierarchy. First, pictures are painted of the concepts in students’ minds BEFORE students engage in a lesson or activity. Then AFTER the activity, students take just a moment to REFLECT on their chosen concept. Students WANT to achieve at the highest concept level just by the nature of the hierarchy. By being PROACTIVE BEFORE and employing REFLECTION AFTER, motivation toward learning is significantly increased.

More explanations of each of the above are available for further study and download throughout WithoutStress.com.