Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – August 2004

Volume 4 Number 8


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Promoting Learning

 6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:

    Free Mailring

    Your Questions Answered

    Impulse Management Posters and Cards



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


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

or worse?”

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.


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.


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

guided practice.

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,


    -give up,

-put their heads down,

-refuse to accept help, and

-won’t try.

  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

C/D side.

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

these options:

  • Home
  • Messages
  •    Post
  • Files
  • Photos
  • Links
  • Database

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

comes up!

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

and bullying.

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




Learning a procedure for responding

appropriately to

impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at



“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: