Volume 6 Number 4
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Discipline without Stress
7. What People Say
A student teacher at Humboldt State University in Northern
California recently asked me at a conference to sign her
book and to please include “WWMMD.” I obliged and then asked
her what “WWMMD” meant. She told me that whenever her
college instructor–Mary Lynn Bryan, a National Board
Certified Teacher–gives a scenario about a school
situation, she has the students respond by first asking
Translation: What Would Marvin Marshall Do?
I was rather taken aback. After reflecting on the possible
efficacy of the phrase, I thought to ask my daughter about
it. She is a social worker who counsels teenagers and is
also certified by the William Glasser Institute in Reality
Therapy and Choice Theory. I asked,
“Hillary, if you were working with one of your
challenging clients and wanted to use Dr. Glasser’s
approach, would the phrase, ‘What would William Glasser
do?’ prompt you to reflect upon his approach to guide you
in the situation?”
She responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”
I also asked Kerry Weisner (whose post is in the following
article) her opinion of the phrase. To my surprise, I
discovered that she had already used it.
Kerry wrote me:
“I have used that myself! (Message#1551 in the Archives:
as you said, I found it brought me back to the three
principles–positivity, choice and reflection–and allowed
me to know exactly what to do. I think it is a helpful thing
for people to think about because newcomers often are
overwhelmed with all the information in the book–especially
if the concept of noncoercion is new to them.
“I found that it was like ‘widening the gap’ between the
stimulus and the response. By asking myself WWMMD?, I was
able to stop the typical automatic reactions and PAUSE. In
the pause, I had something productive to think about (the
three principles) and that led me to come up with something
“I think that the more I work with D w/o S, the more I fall
back on the principles to guide me. If you can truly
maintain a positive outlook, offer real choices in a
pleasant way and get the student to reflect, there’s not
usually much need to be going the route of what we think of
as traditional discipline strategies–consequences. Our work
at the alternate school has been a crash course in this. You
quickly learn how to be positive and noncoercive with
people who will swear at you and leave the school, not
returning for days if you pressure them in any slight way.
“Come to think of it, I have used this same strategy in my
regular teaching, too. My partner, Darlene, is so creative
that whenever I want to think of a creative teaching idea, I
just ask myself, ‘What would Darlene do with this lesson?’
“Here’s an example. Every year we have a developmental
writing test in our district. The whole district writes
about a particular topic. There’s a different topic for
primary, intermediate, middle school, etc. The district
suggests that the kids spend several days getting ready for
this test by recording and brainstorming and webbing and
organizing their ideas on paper.
“At our Grade One level, we find that having them WRITE
their ideas is actually counterproductive because they get
tired of the whole thing before the big day. For them the
process of actually writing is exhausting! Instead we find
that the more we have the kids TALK about the topic before
they write, the more enthusiastic they are and the better
they write. So last year I wanted to think of a way to get
them really talking.
“In a previous year I had tried to get the parents involved
by asking them to talk with their child about the topic at
home, but that backfired. The parents, realizing that this
was leading up to the ‘big test,’ panicked. Instead of
simply talking with their kids as I had asked them to do,
some had their kids practice writing at home. When the day
of the writing test came, the kids were ‘written out’ and so
didn’t do very well. All their work was quite stilted.
“So last year, I said to myself WWDarleneD? (What Would
Darlene Do?) Immediately, I came up with a great idea. I had
the kids make microphones out of toilet paper rolls and then
I gave them each a little cardboard clipboard with a little
pencil attached. I also had them each make an official PRESS
BADGE with this picture on it:
“They became newspaper reporters!
“I gave them a list of questions they might ask other kids
and then they could take turns reporting on the answers.
They loved being reporters; they loved the microphones and
speaking into them. Kids who never would usually say much
loved speaking into a pretend microphone. It was fun. I’ve
never seen so much on-task conversation happening in the
room about a writing topic! The next day when they went to
write, they already knew what they wanted to say because
they’d had so many interviews about the topic. I never would
have come up with that idea on my own without first asking
So, in all humility, I pass the suggestion on to you. The
next time you are facing a challenging situation, consider
pausing and asking yourself, “WWMMD?” The response will
always refer to the practices described at
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
The following is from a mailring post at
by Kerry Weisner of British Columbia who partners as a
primary teacher and also teaches at-risk high school
students. Although the post is in reference to Kerry’s
primary classroom, THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MESSAGE IS
APPLICABLE AT ALL GRADE LEVELS AND TO YOUTH OF ALL AGES.
(The post is slightly edited for conciseness.)
“We recently had a problem. A change in the school schedule
led to a situation where our students had much less adult
supervision at noon hour eating time than had been
customary. Many students began to misbehave. We were really
angry. Our first reaction was to jump to eliciting
consequences. In giving it more thought though, we realized
that WE’D BE MORE IN LINE WITH THE PROGRAM IF WE GOT RID OF
OUR OLD-FASHIONED PUNISHMENT MINDSET (disguised as imposing
logical or natural consequences) and instead created some
PROCEDURES TO TEACH.
“Although we’ve always realized that it’s proactive to teach
classroom procedures and aim at structuring the classroom
(as opposed to controlling the kids), we now see that
discipline problems can be handled positively, yet
effectively, in the same way–by setting up procedures. IT
TOOK US MANY YEARS TO RID OURSELVES OF THE REWARDS
MINDSET. Perhaps how we handled this recent experience is
an indication that WE’RE MOVING BEYOND THE PUNISHMENT
MINDSET, TOO! It’s a peaceful feeling!
“We looked at how we could be more positive (Part II A of
the Marvin Marshall Teaching Model:
and how we might motivate the kids to WANT to be better
behaved at eating time. We got them to reflect on their
misbehaviour and the impact that their choices were having
on their relationship with Eileen, our grand motherly noon
hour supervisor whom they all dearly love. (Bless her heart!
She told the kids that the situation was now at a point
where she would have to give them a big hint when they were
off-track in their behaviour: When she addressed an
individual by the last name ‘Miss Smith’ or ‘Master
Jones’–rather than by their first name–they should take it
as a sign that she wasn’t very pleased with their
“Although these discussions and a realization that Eileen,
to whom they are very attached, was disappointed with their
behaviour brought most of the kids back into line, we still
had a few who continued to misbehave. Once again, we decided
to rethink our strategy and so stepped back to Part I of the
teaching model to deal with what was the real root of the
problem: WE HAD NEVER REALLY TAUGHT ANY ‘EATING-TIME
PROCEDURES’ IN THE FIRST PLACE!
“Setting procedures and practicing them (at least 8 times)
until they become routine, is the TEACHER’S responsibility!
IMMEDIATELY OUR MINDSET CHANGED–FROM BLAMING THE KIDS AND
FROM FEELING ANGRY WITH THEM–TO TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR
THE PROBLEM OURSELVES. Once we had correctly analyzed the
situation, it was easy to know what to do. We had to create
some eating-time procedures, teach them, and then practice
them religiously. Our anger and our belief that imposed
consequences were necessary in the situation evaporated–so
did our stress!
“Of course, the only downside to creating new procedures
part way through the year is that infinitely more practice
time is required to master them than would be needed to
master them in September. According to Harry Wong, the guru
of classroom management, 28 practice times are required to
replace ineffective procedures with new ones. (Note: Dr.
Wong attributes the number 28 to Madeline Hunter.)
“In other words, since the kids had each developed
their OWN eating-time procedures (wandering as they ate,
getting into trouble, etc.), we would have to provide 20
practice times of OUR new procedures to ‘erase’ the memory
of their ingrained individual procedures–and THEN we would
need the 8 more practice times required to teach any new
procedure! A tall order but what other choice is there once
you’ve neglected to teach the correct procedures the first
“So in the end, here’s what we did:
“We made a poster outlining the main procedures that we
expected the kids to follow when they came in after playtime
to eat. We used short sentences/phrases that they read
independently and made the chart look attractive and
colorful with a graphic found on the Internet. We displayed
it prominently on the front board. Here’s the graphic we
“LUNCH TIME PROCEDURES:
1. Change shoes. (Kids have both indoor and outdoor
shoes/boots in our climate.)
2. Use the washroom.
3. Eat at desk and KEEP all garbage and recycling trash.
4. When finished eating (Here was an opportunity to
include some choice), read from the desk book bag or
draw in Doodle Book.
5. AT THE BELL, clean up.
6. Return to desk.
“We took 15 minutes of lesson time to read and teach the
list of procedures on the first day that we introduced it,
explaining to the kids that we needed some clear procedures
at eating time because it was obvious from the recent
problems that we’d been having when the adults weren’t in
the room that not everyone understood what was expected of
them during eating time. Since then, every day we quickly
review the chart just before the kids go out to play at
lunch and Eileen also reviews it when the kids sit down to
eat. Slowly but surely, we are working up to those 28
repetitions necessary to replace old procedures with new
ones and behaviour has improved significantly.
“ONE INTERESTING EXPERIENCE I HAD WHEN DOING THE INITIAL
TEACHING WAS WITH ONE OF OUR STUDENTS WHO WAS THE MOST
POORLY BEHAVED AT LUNCH–THE ONE WHO WAS MOST OFTEN OUT OF
HIS SEAT AND INVOLVED IN MISCHIEF. After teaching Procedure
#3, I questioned him about what a person should do with a
juice box once they had finished drinking all the juice. He
replied ‘Put it in the recycling box at the sink.’ I said
that we’d better read #3 again, which we did and I asked
him the same question again–to which he gave me the SAME
reply, ‘Put it in the recycling box at the sink.’ I COULDN’T
BELIEVE IT! It took two more readings of Procedure #3 before
it finally registered in this child’s mind and he could
answer correctly, ‘Keep it at the desk.’
“THIS LITTLE INTERACTION SHOWED ME THAT THERE ARE SURELY
QUITE A FEW KIDS WHO DON’T INTENTIONALLY MEAN TO MISBEHAVE
BUT DO SO BECAUSE THEY TRULY HAVEN’T LEARNED WHAT THE
TEACHER EXPECTS THEM TO DO. In the future, I WON’T BE SO
QUICK TO FORM THE OPINION THAT CERTAIN STUDENTS ARE
MISBEHAVING WITH THE DELIBERATE INTENTION TO BE BAD or to
“Next year, we’ll begin by teaching eating-time procedures
right off the bat in September–whether we seem to need them
or not–and since we’ll be teaching them proactively–and
not as a REACTION to a problem–we may be able to teach
procedures that are less restrictive and give more
opportunity for the development of SELF-discipline. Our
procedures may eventually evolve over the course of the year
to look more like the following:
“LUNCH TIME PROCEDURES:
1. Change shoes.
2. Use the washroom.
3. Eat at desk.
4. When finished eating (TO OFFER THREE CHOICES):
–Read a book, or
–Draw on some scrap paper, or
–Do a game/puzzle on the carpet
5. AT THE BELL, clean up.
6. Return to desk.
“We’re much happier with the way we’ve handled our noon hour
problems this year. Although to some people unfamiliar with
a noncoercive and non-punitive approach to discipline, it
might look as if the kids got away with something and in
fact were even rewarded with a fancy doodle book, we feel
differently. We know that our students will be better able
to develop true self-control when we show them step-by-step
how to go about it, and we also now understand that
retaining a positive relationship with our students is key
and will make for fewer discipline difficulties in the
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
This section was prompted by a message from Leo, a
teacher in China.
In an attempt to spread D w/o S and share success, Leo
requested that we post a comment on his blog (weblog)
He wrote, “I would like to share my blog. It is a very new
and raw site, mostly about D w/o S experience here in China.
I also have some pics of my classroom and my students there.
If you are interested in how I use D w/o S in my 90 students
classroom, check it out.”
“I would really appreciate it if you could leave a comment
there. I need your encouragements and believe it is one of
best ways to let more people in China get to know D w/o S.
“I hope http://www.tcsol.com.cn/ could become a platform for
Chinese teachers and also other teachers in the whole world,
I entered the following:
The levels of the social development hierarchy are very
applicable to the Chinese culture. I learned this first
hand in May of 2005 when I visited and presented in
China, where my book was translated into “Simple
Level C standards of behavior are the expectation and the
norm in the culture.
Level D would be characterized by the same behavior, but
the MOTIVATION to act would be that people WANT to do
what is expected.
Thanks for spreading the word.
It was when I visited Leo’s site that prompted my
request to you. Many search engines, such as Google, base a
major criterion of their rankings on the number of links to
a site. The reasoning is that if a site has many links to it
then the site must be useful.
HERE IS MY REQUEST: To help spread the message that using a
noncoercive approach to foster responsibility is worth
sharing, and if you have access to a website or blog, please
have it linked to http://WWW.MarvinMarshall.com.
Thank you for your help in spreading the word.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
People don’t buy from someone they don’t like–at least not
in the long run.
In a sense, leaders, teachers, and parents all market.
Leaders market vision and empowerment, teachers market
information, and parents market their role-modeling.
Every so often, it pays to reflect on whether you are
marketing yourself as you desire.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
Have a discussion and perhaps a writing exercise on the
following comment by the poet Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people
will forget what you did, but people will never forget how
you made them feel.”
6. Discipline without Stress QUESTION:
Our faculty is “on board” and we have purchased your book
for nearly all of them. I also have joined the D w/o S group
on Yahoo and found it a wonderful resource as well.
Some teachers are experiencing a loss of comfort level when
first starting. Any suggestions?
Anything new is different and has an effect on one’s feeling
and comfort. Most adults naturally prefer something with
which they are comfortable rather than doing something in a
different way. Anything new to adults feels odd at
first–until new neural connections become well established.
People who use the approach of being positive (instead of
being negative negative), offering choices (instead of
attempting to dominate), and asking reflective questions
(rather than telling) soon discover how much more effective
they themselves become, how their stress is reduced, how
their relationships improve, and how much more enjoyable
To quote Phelps Wilkins, a principal in Mesa, Arizona:
“The teachers who incorporate Dr. Marshall’s principles
are sad at the end of the school year because they don’t
want their students to leave. The ones who do not use
the system can’t wait for the school year to end!”
The practices are not established just by thinking of them.
WITHOUT PRACTICING THEM, THEY REMAIN JUST THOUGHTS.
I am guided by my own experiences. I have found that “with
the risk comes the reward.” Trying something different
promotes self-growth. This type of growth is one of the
pleasures of living.
Then there is that section in the book about reducing
perfectionism: YOU CANNOT LEARN AND BE PERFECT AT THE SAME
TIME. (p.150) Therefore, I am not afraid of making mistakes.
I view them as learning experiences–which naturally makes
them more comfortable.
7. What People Say
I received the following in a recent e-mail:
“I am a principal of an educational program in a juvenile
detention facility in Pittsburgh. I have read your book six
times and I continue to learn more each time I read it. I
also bought 15 copies for teachers to read. Your newsletters
are also a great reminder of how to work positively with
“Last year, I started a Choices program for those students
with challenging behaviors. After developing the philosophy
and procedures of the program, our program contracted with a
behavioral specialist to be in charge of the Choices Room.
“In the school, we use four levels of expectations that are
color coded. Students are taught the expectations and it is
reviewed every Monday with the teachers. Students that
choose not to participate in the school program by not
adhering to the expectations are assigned to the Choices
Room. The school has a Dean of Students who works with
students to help them succeed in school. However, if the
student continues to ignore the expectations, the Dean will
then assign the student to the Choices room.
“In the Choices room, the student works with the behavioral
specialist with some academics but mostly in a reflection of
their behaviors. The student is responsible to acknowledge
their behaviors, reflect on their behaviors and develop a
plan before they can reenter the school program. It is all
about helping the student make appropriate choices and
helping students become successful. This program has been
Joe Lachowicz, Principal
Shuman Center Education Program