Volume 4 Number 8
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:
Your Questions Answered
Impulse Management Posters and Cards
What People Say About THE RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM
This past Monday–at the
invitation of the president of the Association for Teacher Educators–I spoke in
Cambridge, Massachusetts to college and university professors who prepare future
I suggested that they have a dilemma. They wish to expose future teachers to
various approaches to discipline. With this in mind, they use textbooks which
share a number of discipline approaches, such as C.C..Charles’ “Building
Classroom Discipline.” (Incidentally, the Raise
Responsibility System is included in the most recent, 8th edition.)
Unfortunately, when their students are asked at the end of their course whether
or not they feel confident to walk into their first classroom knowing good
classroom management procedures and having a discipline approach that is “user
friendly” for both teacher and student, these future teachers inevitably answer
in the negative.
We expose future teachers to knowledge of different approaches but do not
actually teach the skills of any one. This means that education is the only
profession (in my opinion) that does not prepare its practitioners for that
which is most important to their success. In the case of classroom teaching,
this means having SKILLS (not just knowledge) in both classroom management AND
discipline. (If you are unclear about the differences, visit
Read the article entitled, “Curriculum, Instruction, Classroom Management, and
In spite of the challenge I presented, the Raise Responsibility System was
received with great enthusiasm.
You can now view parts of
“DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS, PUNISHMENTS or REWARDS–HOW TEACHERS and PARENTS
PROMOTE RESPONSIBILITY and LEARNING online at Amazon’s “Search Inside.”
Here is how to do it: On their home page,
in the SEARCH box on the left side, ENTER: Marvin Marshall. Then click on “Go.”
When the book appears, click on either the book cover or the title. When the
book is in view, click on “SEARCH INSIDE.” Scroll down until you see an enlarged
cover of the book.
You can navigate these pages by using the ARROWS in the MIDDLE of each page–or
by using the “Previous Page” or “Next Page” links on the top and bottom of the
pages. (The blank page is an error in formatting.)
Last week a mother of a
young boy shared with me her frustration. One of her sons was constantly getting
up from the table during dinner, thereby disrupting the environment she wanted
to maintain during meal time.
I suggested that she think of the EXACT OPPOSITE of what her son was doing. I
then suggested that she put her son in charge of that responsibility.
The conversation would go something like this:
Jay, I need your help. I want you to be in charge of having all members of the
family remain seated during dinner.
Here, then, is the two-step
(1) Put the person in charge of the opposite of what the person is doing. (2)
Articulate what you want (I need your help, assistance, leadership, etc.), and
then put the person in charge of it.
People like to be in charge. When in charge, the person performs the appropriate
behavior because incongruity (doing the opposite of what the person is in charge
of) is very difficult for young people.
Following are some additional examples that work every time.
A primary student does not complete assigned table work. I need your help. I
would like you to be in charge of noticing who at your table completes the
assigned work. Let me know at the end of the day who was successful. (Notice
that the phrasing is in the positive; it’s not about who doesn’t complete the
The middle school class procedure was to clean and organize desks before
dismissal on Fridays. One student continually dumped stuff on the desk and took
an excessive amount of time to clean and organize the materials. I need your
help. I would like you to be in charge of the desks by going around and keeping
track of whose desk is clean and orderly. (The student didn’t wait until Friday.
He started checking on Thursday.)
The high school student continued to came to school tardy. I need your help. I
would like you to make sure everyone is seated on time when the bell rings. (The
student not only started to come to class on time but also improved his
appearance and school attire.)
This approach to changing behavior immediately is foolproof. If it doesn’t work,
reflect: Did you think of the exact opposite? Did you use the exact wording of
putting the person in charge and phrasing the responsibility in positive terms?
Admired people have others
feel important. When you interact with someone–whether for 30 seconds or for 30
minutes–the test is, “When the person walks away, does that person feel better
If you see the person walking away feeling down or depressed, walk after the
person and ask, “How about trying that again so that you feel better than when
we started the conversation?”
The conclusion is inescapable. When we work with others who prompt positive
feelings, our spirits are raised–and so is our motivation.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
If someone interrupts you
while you are working on something and have that mental momentum where you are
in a state of flow, take just a moment to write down some key words that later
will bring you back to your thought.
If the interruption is at a lower priority than what you are engaged in, here is
how to diplomatically deflect the interruption without hurting the other
person’s feelings. It is a four-step process.
Start with “I WANT TO . . . .” (1st part)
I want to talk with you about it.
“AND I NEED TO . . . . ” ( 2nd part)
And I need to finish this before I do anything else.
Ask a question. (3rd part)
Can we talk in just a few minutes?
Acknowledge their understanding. (4th part)
Thanks. I really appreciate your understanding.
Notice that nowhere have I said “I can’t talk to you now,” or “You will have to
come back,” or “I am right in the middle of something and you will have to
I am not rejecting the person. Instead, I’m acknowledging the person but letting
the person know that I have a need also and that we can handle the situation
through mutual understanding.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
Jim wrote me the following
regarding his teaching:
I am a returning math
teacher who has worked in business most of my life. Had a tough time teaching
last year. Thought I could just teach the subject and didn’t give any thought to
managing the classroom. Got a rude awakening.
I figure if I can guide the students into being courteous to one another, we can
then have meaningful conversations about math. One of the best ways to learn
math is to express it in English.
The suggestion I gave Jim is
the one I gave to high school teachers in Georgia earlier this month–using math
as an example.
I suggested they start each lesson by giving students a problem. Grappling with
a problem creates interest and curiosity, both great motivators. Students can
then share how they solved or attempted to solve the problem. After this
discussion, use direct instruction followed by
The approach follows the Japanese model of teaching. Our usual approach is to
give direct instruction followed by guided practice. This approach does not
consider motivation; it assumes students are motivated by a responsibility to
learn what is taught. Of course, what is lacking here is the teacher’s
responsibility to create an environment where students WANT to learn.
A recent (2003) Phi Delta Kappa publication entitled, “LEARNING FROM JAPANESE
MIDDLE SCHOOL MATH TEACHERS” is a short, quick, worthwhile read on the subject.
The $4.00 (plus $1.00 for shipping) monograph can be ordered
from Phi Delta Kappa International at toll-free
800.766.1156. Ask for FASTBACK #505.
Incidentally, I started my
staff development at Coffee High School in Douglas, Georgia by informing the
staff that if they were ever in Southern California and drove by Westminster
High School in the Huntington Beach Union High School District they might take
notice of four bungalows in the front south side of that campus.
These bungalows were built at my behest when I was assistant principal of
curriculum and instruction. I had presented to the board of education a plan to
establish a small learning community that combined math, science, language arts,
and social studies with teachers having a common planning period and with the
same group of 9th grade students. Coffee High School was initiating the same
format–also starting with ninth graders–to raise their graduation rate, a
challenge that affects most high schools in the U.S.A.
6. Implementing the RAISE
I am very interested in
using this system in counseling students individually and in classroom guidance.
My question is: Will the system work, even though I only see the students for 30
minutes every other week, and even if the classroom teacher is not using the
system? From your experience are there any hints or suggestions to make the
system work in this situation?
RESPONSE (by Kerry):
You’re in a great position to teach and
use the RRSystem! It can certainly be used effectively in both situations you
–with the students you see on an individual basis and
–as part of your classroom guidance lessons.
With students you see individually, begin by
teaching the hierarchy in the book, “Discipline without Stress, Punishments or
Rewards,” and then add additional descriptors tailored to their particular
For example, if a child is having difficulty with
social relationships, you can build a hierarchy with him/her using descriptors
regarding “being friendly/unfriendly.” You can role play situations to encourage
more positive ways of relating to others.
If a student is having emotional problems, such as
one little fellow in my class last year who would “shut down” shortly after we
started almost any assignment or project, you could add descriptors at each
level encouraging him/her to handle little frustrations in a more effective way.
|You could discuss that|
|At the lower levels,
-put their heads down,
-refuse to accept help, and
|At the higher levels,
|-put up a hand to ask for help,
-don’t let little setbacks hold them back for long, and
-focus on one step at a time instead of fixating on an
end result that seems impossible to achieve.
My previous principal used the RRSystem with
individual kids–the ones who were the “frequent visitors” to her office. She
introduced them to the hierarchy and sometimes had them draw pictures of the
levels, just as suggested in the book. (pp. 70-72)
She engaged one grade six boy in a conversation about the difference between the
two sides of his paper. The youngster could see that the side illustrating
Levels A/B looked chaotic, busy, and upsetting, while the C/D side of the page
looked calm and orderly. She asked him to identify which side looked like a more
“pleasant lifestyle” and he said the
She continued by asking him to identify the side which best depicted his own
life. He admitted that his life was most like the A/B side, which led to further
discussions about whether or not his current choices were bringing him what he
really wanted. She felt that RRSystem discussions definitely helped children
move forward in their thinking.
The same sorts of discussions that you would hold with individuals can also be
held with entire classes of students as part of your guidance lessons. Just as
one example, by referring to the hierarchy, you can help kids understand the
difference between pseudo-self-esteem (an over-inflated ego!) and true
Often it’s the person with the over-inflated ego who causes disruptions in the
classroom, and so these kinds of discussions are particularly valuable. Once
youngsters can recognize their own behavior as “show-offish” (as opposed to
clever), they can become inspired to use the hierarchy to help themselves build
true feelings of confidence and
In other words, you can teach children that their level of behavior is a CHOICE
they continually make and that there is a “pay off” to operating on the highest
level of social development–improved self-esteem, better relationships with
others, and a greater sense of self-satisfaction.
Consider leaving a large copy of the hierarchy in the classrooms where you work.
Plant the seed in the minds of your students that the chart is there to help
them make choices and decisions at ALL times. It’s not just something to talk
about once a week. You can encourage your pupils to
use the hierarchy independently if they want to become more responsible,
self-reliant, kindhearted, etc.
Give your students a small version to take home or to keep in a personal
notebook. Stress the value of this little bit of paper. Help them to understand
that the hierarchy is a powerful tool which they can decide to use and that by
doing so they will be CHOOSING to be in control of their own lives.
As part of your guidance sessions you could do some role playing. Students love
drama activities. You could also read and discuss stories–identifying the
levels of motivations of characters. Here are a few messages from the RRSystem
Mailring Archives that might give you some ideas: Messages #82, #559, #586 and
Although most of the these posts are examples from the primary grades, they
might spark an idea for how to use books at other grade levels, too. Members of
the RRSystem mailring who teach middle school have said that even teenagers
enjoy the occasional use of carefully selected picture books.
use the RRSystem Archives, MEMBERS should first go to the following link and
sign in by clicking on the words, “Sign in to Yahoo!” located in the
upper right portion of the screen:
TO BECOME A MEMBER of the RRSystem mailring and gain
access to current and archived messages, first click on the box with the
words, “Join This Group” at the above link.
This takes you to a page, with a box which is again
located in the upper right-hand portion of the screen. Enter your Yahoo ID
and password. Click on the box that says,”Sign in.”
This takes you to a page showing a left-hand sidebar with
Click on “Messages” which will take you to a page with the
most recent messages posted to the mailring. Near the top, you will find a
small box that says Msg # ___. In that little box, type the number of
the message you are looking for. Click on “Go.”
This takes you to a page of past messages. The first
message listed on the page is the number you have requested in your search
of the Archives. Click on that and Voila!–the message you are looking for
Your guidance classes also provide a perfect opportunity to use
the RRSystem in a very practical way that will help both the students and their
classroom teachers. Guidance time could be used to discuss and improve
situations identified by the teachers as problematic. No doubt the teachers
would appreciate your support with issues such as handing in
homework on time, walking down the hall appropriately, or dealing with teasing
You could begin by using the hierarchy to help the kids build their own
descriptors for the four levels as related to a specific issue and then move to
having the students create procedures which they think would help them to
improve the situation. You could do this through informal discussion or make it
more formal by holding a classroom meeting.
As someone new to the RRSystem, you will find that working on small issues with
individuals and with a variety of classes will also help you. We all learn best
by doing. Not only will you learn how to implement the RRSystem yourself, but at
the same time you’ll be encouraging other teachers to see the value of what
you’re doing with young people.
Good luck! You sound committed to using the RRSystem and I think you’re in the
perfect position to implement it!
Kerry in BC
You can share and learn more about the
RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM (RRS) at
IMPULSE MANAGEMENT POSTERS and CARDS
Learning a procedure for responding
impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at
What People Say About THE RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM
“This is the best year I have had in the 25
years of being a principal. Behavior has not been a problem this year. Our
students are learning to solve their problems in a positive way. We find
that with the proper instruction, students can monitor their own behavior
and make responsible choices without the use of punishment and rewards.”
Phelps Wilkins, Principal
Eisenhower Elementary School, Mesa, AZ
A descriptive table of contents of the book
describing the approach, three selected sections, and additional items of
interest are posted at: