Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – March 2013

Volume 13 Number 3


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials




“In my opinion this body of work cements your position as today’s preeminent authority on teaching and working productively with students of all age levels.” –C.M. Charles, author, 11th Edition, BUILDING CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE, 2013 Referring to MarvinMarshall.com/


Upcoming Public Seminars: 
April 22 Phoenix, Arizona
April 23 Denver, Colorado 
April 24 Billings, Montana 
April 25 Salt Lake City, Utah
April 26 Portland, Oregon 

Contact Bureau of Education & Research to receive a brochure and/or to register: 800.735.350.


A collection of my articles on LEARNING has recently been published in TEACHERS MATTER by Karen Boyes of New Zealand. Feel free to download, print, and share the publication.

The articles include:

–Counterproductive Approaches
–Elicit, Rather than Impose
–Five Practices of Superior Teachers
–The Brain, Sleep, and Learning
–The Brain and Exercise
–Explaining Internal vs. External Motivation
–Competition and Learning
–Joy in Learning
–Defining Success
–Understanding Counterwill
–Reducing Stress
–Classroom Management and Visualization
–A Better Approach than Relying on Rules
–Language, the Brain, and Behavior
–Discipline Is a Liberating Word
–Immaculate Perception
–See It and Learn It


Everything has a price. Are you willing to pay it?

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s great technology universities, new students are asked to choose two from the following: friends, grades, or sleep.

The point, of course, is that one cannot have all three.

The concept that “everything has a price” is similar to “opportunity costs” that economists use. For example, if you watch a television program, rather than read a book, you have lost the time that could have been devoted to reading. The opportunity cost was in losing reading time. That would have been the price you spent for watching television.

The principle is simple—yet it can be life-changing. Simply ask yourself, “What is the price I am paying for doing what I am about to do?” When you respond, you will have a tendency to perform that which is in your best interests.


Schools and teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet standards. The pressure of taking standardized tests gets passed on to students.

Standardized tests can create crippling anxiety in students, and anxious kids perform below their true abilities. Students with test anxiety manage to get something down on paper, but their capacity to think clearly and solve problems accurately is reduced by their nervousness. This anxiety can expand to college admissions exams and lead to reduced motivation.

Apprehension about tests can be especially common among minority and female students. That’s because the prospect of evaluation poses for them what psychologists call stereotype threats–the possibility that a poor performance will confirm negative assumptions about the group to which they belong.

One step all students can take to improve their performance on tests is to change how they study for them. Many students have every reason to be nervous before an exam because they haven’t prepared adequately and don’t know how to do so. Then they sit down to take the test and they freak out because they’ve never practiced doing what the test is asking them to do. Reviewing class notes and textbooks can familiarize students with the material on a test, but it doesn’t help them take the exam.

Viewing a test more like a play with the preparation as a dress rehearsal that replicates the format and time limit of the exam helps. You would never just read over your lines and then show up on the opening night of a school play. It’s the same thing with a test. To be ready for it, practice doing what you’ll have to do in the test-taking situation.

Even little kids aren’t immune to test anxiety. Researchers have seen evidence of it in students as young as first and second graders. Their worries tend to manifest in nonverbal signs such as stomach aces, difficulty sleeping, and a persistent urge to leave the classroom to go to the bathroom. 

This article from TIME MAGAZINE, February 11, 2013 (p.45), states that the author’s son burst into tears the night before the big end-of-year exam, saying that he was afraid he wouldn’t be promoted to the next grade.

Of course, thinking positively, making a choice to get a good night’s sleep, and reflecting that a school standardized test is not life-threatening reduces text anxiety.


When Chance and Jenny were at Bally’s in Reno, Nevada he gave her $100 to squander at roulette. 

“What number shall I play?” she asked. 

“What’s the difference?” said Chance. “It’s pure luck. Try the number that corresponds with your age.”

So, she plunked down the hundred dollar bill on 29.  The little ball whirled around and landed on 38. Jenny fainted.

Moral: Honesty is the best policy.


The September 2012 Scientific American stated that most teachers would agree that it is important for students to remember much of what they read. One of the most common sights on high school and college campuses is that of students poring over textbooks, yellow marker in hand, high-lighting pertinent passages which often end up including most of the page. Later in the semester, to prepare for their exams, students hit the textbooks again, rereading the yellow blocks of text. Yet, studies have shown that highlighting and rereading text is among the least effective ways for students to remember the content of what they have read.

A far better technique is for students to quiz themselves. In one study, students who read a text once and then tried to recall it on three occasions scored 50 percent higher on exams than students who read the text and then reread it three times.

Asking questions to recall information is an aspect of reflection, which is one of the most effective practices for success in any aspect of life and learning and an integral part of my approach.

Remembering what has been read is also recalled more effectively by visualizing. Here is a technique I used to have my former students learn the 13 colonies that became the original Untied States of America. 

Follow me on this. Do as I suggest and say the ANSWER to each question OUT LOUD.

Visualize a cow. The cow’s name is Georgette.
It’s a Jersey cow.
The cow is sitting on the Empire State Building.
And it’s singing a couple of Christmas carols.
Under its chin is a ham.
It’s a Virginia ham. WHAT KIND OF HAM?
The cow is wearing yellow underwear.
In its hoof is a pencil. WHAT’S IN ITS HOOF?
And the cow is making a connect-the-dots drawing.
Of Marilyn Monroe.
OF WHOM? Walking down a road.
Going to mass.

What was the cow’s name?
What kind of a cow was it?
Sitting on top of the ______.
Singing a couple of ______. 
Under its chin is a?
What kind of a ham?
What is it wearing?
In its hoof is a ______ .
It was making what kind of a drawing?
Walking down a ______.
Going to ______.

Congratulations! You just named all original thirteen states: Georgia, New Jersey, New York (the Empire State), the Carolinas (North and South Carolina), New Hampshire (ham), Virginia, Delaware (underwear), Pennsylvania (Pencilvania), Connecticut (connect the dots), Maryland (Marilyn), Rhode Island (road), Massachusetts (Mass).

My students had no difficulty remembering them because it was easy for the brain to visualize and connect each picture. The brain envisions images, not words.


When enforcing rules be aware that they aim at obedience, rather than promoting responsibility–and that obedience does not create desire.

The most effective approach to have young people do what adults want them to do is to tap into their emotions. Following rules requires thinking—not feelings.

I use “Responsibilities” rather than “Rules” because I am able to have young people WANT to become responsible. I do this by tapping into the good feelings a person gets from being responsible

Once young people are exposed to the Hierarchy of Social Development, they want to raise themselves to the highest level–simply by the nature of wanting to reach the highest level of the hierarchy


The following is from a post at the DWS Mailring:

Some of you may already know that I am an elementary music teacher. I started the year using DWS with great success. The students knew each level of behavior; we had discussed and understood what each level means and how choosing each level affects the rest of the class.

I am the only one in my building using DWS. I have spoken with other teachers about it, and they agree the whole system makes sense and they would love for students to be more responsible, but they are reluctant to give up rewards and consequences because it is all they know.

They all know how I feel about rewards and consequences. The last few weeks, I have had classroom teachers pick up their students while I am having a discussion with them about their choices. I had a teacher say in front of her class, while they were still in my room, “I know Ms. Music Teacher doesn’t believe in rewards and consequences, but when you come into my room I am taking a hand full of marbles out of your jar.”

I had another teacher come in today after I had had a rough time with his kids. We were discussing the same thing, how Level D means you are doing the right thing even when no one is watching – not for a reward or consequence, but because it helps out everyone. Then the teacher said to the class, “Well, if anyone was misbehaving for you, Ms. Music, let me know. I will pull their pin and make sure they get in trouble.” I know he was just trying to show that he has my back, but how in the world can I keep this up when teachers negate everything I am trying to do?

What would you do in this situation? I can’t force the other teachers to do DWS, and I have been doing my best to educate them. I can’t continue telling the kids that they get rewards and punishments everywhere else but in my room. When I elicit consequences from students, they say things like, “You could put the bad kids out,” or, “You should tell our teacher.” The kids think I am a pushover because I would rather have a conversation about how to solve problems instead of assigning detention. The behaviors are getting worse and worse, and the kids are asking me more about rewards every day.

Should I stick to my guns and continue teaching with integrity, or should I give in to the status quo?


Let the other teachers know that you are NOT against punishments or all rewards. But you are against stress, adversarial relationships with students, IMPOSED punishments, and rewarding young people for appropriate behavior. When we give rewards for EXPECTED STANDARDS OF CONDUCT, we send the message that students will be rewarded when they leave school for doing what is expected from them. THIS IS NOT HOW THE WORLD OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL OPERATES. Emphasize that as students grow and mature they will learn that the most satisfying reward is the feeling they get from their efforts of doing what is right, rather than from something that comes from the outside.

IMPOSED punishments create adversarial relationships. Besides, the person has no ownership in something imposed. If the desire is to change behavior, then ELICITING A CONSEQUENCE OR A PROCEDURE is much more effective and far more stress-reducing because you will be collaborating with the student, which prompts positive, rather than negative feelings.

different–just like every teacher is different and every parent is different. Explain that as a person matures, differences between people helps us grow–and that being different is not wrong. It is healthy for a society.

Persevere! What you are doing is in students’ best interests–preparing them to be responsible citizens.



I am on the Board of Directors for an American school in Casablanca, Morocco. 

I found you after a Google search on discipline. A huge amount of time and energy is consumed in managing the needs of students who come in  to the principal’s office for discipline issues, and the subsequent phone calls to parents, and meetings with parents/students/teachers.

After studying your procedures and philosophy related to discipline, I’m thinking more that our discipline policy seems heavy on punishments, and when those are exhausted, out of school suspensions/expulsions. Something has to give. You give me hope that another way might work for the sake of our students, parents, & staff. 

Your teaching is a breath of fresh air.



The PARENTING book: 

This parenting book is a very easy and quick read. I only wish that they would give out this book at every baby shower or as a gift from the hospital when the baby and new mom go home. If everyone would parent like this, the world would be a much better place.

Lisa Lane
Lafayette, Indiana