Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – November 2005

Volume 5 Number 11 


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Promoting Learning

 6. The Raise Responsibility System

 7. What People Say


In updating my computer to a new operating system, all of my

recent e-mail files were lost. If you had contacted me and

did not receive a response, the reason is that your message

to me is floating somewhere in the Ethernet–and I know not



Jamie Turner of Fair Haven, New Jersey, recently forwarded

me information about her school’s website. I share it with

you below. Her entire communication to me is reproduced

later in this newsletter.



What is the Raise Responsibility System? Marvin

Marshall’s Raise Responsibility System was designed in

order to promote responsible behavior within the school

community. This simple system focuses on promoting the

internalization of responsibility rather than on only

promoting external obedience. The foundation of this

system is the hierarchy of social development, which

supports students in learning how to make responsible


Why are we implementing this system?

As a teaching and learning community, there was a

consensus among our staff that we needed to find a better

way to help students make independent choices in their

behavior. After piloting this approach during the 2004-05

school year in many classrooms we found it to be a

simple, yet highly effective way to help students learn

to make responsible choices.

How can I find out more information?

Please visit Marvin Marshall’s website at:

www.marvinmarshall.com for more


Jamie Turner, Principal

Sickles School

Fair Haven, New Jersey


Jamie’s letter prompted me to add a new link to the

  website and is entitled, “What People

Say.” You can scroll through its contents at


Since the number of links to a website is a very significant

factor used by search engines, and since I am attempting to

have the keyword “Discipline” bring my website to the top of

such searches, I have a personal request:

If you have your own website or work at an organization,

association, school district or school, please ask

the person in charge of the site (webmaster) to add


under “Resources” or “Useful Links.”

Thanks for your assistance in helping to promote



Pursuing perfection focuses at looking for what’s WRONG.

On the other hand, pursuing high standards and excellence

focuses on what’s RIGHT.

Most humans in most endeavors will fulfill their

responsibilities more effectively when asked, “Are you

satisfied with your work?” rather than “Is what you have

done perfect?”


Here are two statements from a most interesting book

entitled, “BLINK – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,”

by Malcolm Gladwell, copyright 2005 (Little Brown and



“. . . the information on our face is not just a signal of

what is going on in our mind. In a certain sense it IS what

is going on inside our mind.” . . . . “We discovered that

the expression alone is sufficient to create marked changes

in the autonomic nervous system.” (Page 206)


“I began to listen with my eyes, and there is no way that

your eyes don’t affect your judgment.” (page 251)

Unless a person is autistic (cannot differentiate objects

from the emotional expressions of people), the person

looking at you IMMEDIATELY perceives your emotions–just by

looking at your face.

If you are thinking of arguing, blaming, criticizing, or

demanding, your mindset is communicated EVEN BEFORE YOUR


Gladwell’s points reinforce the three principles to

practice. If you want to influence people successfully,

first THINK of how you can deliver your message in a

positive way, empower with choice, and prompt reflection.


Malcolm Gladwell’s book is a masterpiece of how and why

people make snap judgments, how these judgments can be

beneficial, and–when they are not–what can be done about



Classifications help us to clarify thinking and

communications. We often hear reference to left and right

brain hemisphericity, personality types, learning styles,

and various intelligences. Yet, the MOST FUNDAMENTAL

classification dealing with fellow humans has to do with the

emotional part of our brain and its influence on cognition.

The fight, flight, or freeze syndrome originating deep in

the amygdala of the brain affects decision we make. In

dealing with others, it prompts a mix of emotion and

cognition. It instinctively translates into classifications,

such as “friend or foe?” “Are you likeable?” and “Am I

willing to be influenced by you?”

One approach for gaining rapport with others is to be aware

of this phenomenon by refraining from the “ABCD Don’ts.”




Criticize, or



Rather than working solely in isolation, learning and

working communities collaborate.

Here is a simple technique any teacher, principal, parent,

or leader can implement. Have people volunteer to relate

something that SOMEONE ELSE has done successfully. Then

decide on how often this activity should be conducted, such

as weekly or monthly.

A collaborative spirit grows by having others share

incidents of someone other than him/herself. Examples of

incidents could be helping someone, using a new procedure,

or sharing a successful technique.

Rather than the usual approach of the leader or a committee

recognizing one person above the others each week, month, or

year, sharing activities or incidents empowers the community

without the negative “punished by rewards” syndrome created

when a deserving person does not receive the award.


The RRSystem, inclusive in the MARVIN MARSHALL TEACHING

MODEL, is outlined at



is described at


A quick reference of the RRSystem can be found at



An example of how one school implemented the RRSystem is

reproduced with the writer’s permission:

Dear Dr. Marshall,

I’m writing to let you know what a powerful influence your

work has had on our school community. After reading your

article, “Using a Discipline System to Promote Learning,” in

the March 2004 Phi Delta Kappan, our staff had a strong

reaction. Many of us immediately identified with your

struggle to maintain discipline and to find a way to do so

that was not punitive but increased student learning

opportunities and responsibility.

NOTE: The article referred to is the first one in the box



I hold the copyright to all my writings and permission is

granted to reproduce anything on my website. I only ask

thatbe included somewhere as

the source. MM

A committee formed and met over the summer of 2004. Their

hard work resulted in a small group of teachers piloting

your approach during the 2004-2005 school year. As their

experiences were shared at faculty meetings and weekly

newsletters over the course of the school year, the small

group blossomed to include nearly half of our staff. Many

read your monthly online newsletter and continued to deepen

their ideas and practices. Some even ended many years of

reward systems, not without some withdrawal effects, to

focus on internal motivation.

During the last few months of the 2004-2005 school year, our

staff continued the conversation about your approach,

finally reaching consensus to implement it school-wide this

year. As principal of the Viola L. Sickles School, I am

proud of the ongoing and thoughtful consideration our staff

has shown throughout this process. There are frequent

conversations, sometimes even a bit heated, about these

ideas. And the conversation and thinking continues.

Since we are a primary school, grades pre-kindergarten – 3rd

grade, we have found it helpful to adapt your hierarchy to

make it a bit simpler. We feel we have maintained the

essence of your approach but in a form that is more easily

understood by our students. I’m sharing it with you now with

the hopes that you won’t cringe or feel we have taken your

work and misused it. Basically we have two levels: O.K.

behavior (acceptable) and Not O.K. behavior (unacceptable).

Under O.K. behavior we have levels D and C listed as

follows: I did the right thing all by myself. I did the

right thing when I was asked. Listed under the Not O.K.

behavior we have levels B and A: I did the wrong thing. I

did a hurtful or unsafe thing. One of our very talented

mothers created an adorable poster that now hangs

prominently in every classroom and the lunchroom, serving as

an effective reminder and excellent teaching tool.

I would be delighted to talk with you about our

implementation and sincerely hope that you will find our

work promising. Actually we had a brief conversation about a

year ago when I called to inquire about bringing you to our

district. Unfortunately, we are very small and were unable

to fund your visit. However, we didn’t let that deter us one

bit and have been thrilled with the results of this


Thank you for your continued information via your

newsletter. We are faithful readers, here in our small New

Jersey community, and look forward to continuing our



Jamie Sussel Turner


Viola L. Sickles School

25 Willow Street

Fair Haven, NJ 07704

7. What People Say

“With thirteen years experience as a secondary principal and

over twenty years in education, I couldn’t agree more that

coercion is a faulty approach in working with students. Dr.

Marshall’s Raise Responsibility System is what students

need to take control of their lives and will instill in them

the skills to be happy, productive citizens…. Personally,

I believe his presentation to our staff was one of the best

I have seen in twenty years.”

Kent Bunderson, Principal

Vernal Junior High

Vernal, Utah