Volume 6 Number 5
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Discipline without Stress
7. What People Say
Last month’s section “3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS,” was
about Leo, a teacher in China. He stated that he would like
more people in China to know about Dw/oS. He requested
people leave comments on his blog and that he would
translate some of them into Chinese for posting.
I then made an error by stating that the site has been
blocked. When copying the URL (Uniform Resource Locator–
“the world wide web address”), I neglected to add “cn” for
“China” as the suffix.
You can see Leo’s blog and add a comment. If you scroll past
the Chinese posting, you will see what he has posted in
English. The correct URL is
Leo will be presenting a summer workshop on Dw/oS in China
and would greatly appreciate any experience you have had
using the system that he can share in his workshop.
I have given him–as I give everyone–permission to use and
share anything from my websites as long as the specific
website is included:
I recently received a communication from a school that was
implementing my approach and queried about (1) the use of
forms and (2) administrative back up.
1) Use of forms:
I explained that when I first developed the Raise
Responsibility System, I used the essay and self-diagnostic
I used the essay form to have a student reflect:
(1) What did I do? (Acknowledgment), (2) What can I do to
prevent it from happening again? (Choice), and (3) What will
I do? (Commitment) (page 274 in the book) (Forms were never
used in primary grades.)
If misbehavior continued, then the Self-Diagnostic Referral
would be used (page 275 or 276–depending upon the grade
Every day was treated as a new day, and if the student acted
on level A/B on a second day, then an essay would be
assigned to stop the lesson interruption and again have the
student reflect. The essay was always given before a
Self-Diagnostic Referral was used.
However, I relied on the forms less often as I started to
elicit a procedure to help students help themselves.
2) Administrative back up:
As the person in charge of discipline in an elementary
school, middle school and high school, my philosophy was
different from that when I was classroom teacher (elemntary,
middle, and high school).
When a teacher sent a student to the office, I would be sure
never to send the student back the same day in a middle
school or high school situation, and only after a long
respite on the elementary level. I believed that both the
teacher and student needed a break from each other.
However, when a student was sent to my office, the teacher
was communicating to me that the teacher had done all that
was possible and needed administrative assistance. I then
used my knowledge of the student and of the family to
enforce both school standards and assist the student not to
repeat the inappropriate or irresponsible behavior. Here is
the main point: I did not see my role as doing the classroom
In my mind, administrative back up seeks to resolve a
situation that assists the teacher to help the student
become more responsible.
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked the new
“Yes, sir,” came the reply.
“Well, then, that explains everything.” The employer
continued, “After you left early yesterday to go to your
grandmother’s funeral, she stopped in to see you.”
“What Would Shaq Do?” is an outgrowth from last month:
It was sent to me by Bob Sullivan who is consulting with an
inner city school. On his first day, the principal was
involved with a boy who was pushing in the cafeteria line.
As the principal was then attending to other students, Bob
began talking with the student–who has a difficult home
life–and found out that he liked basketball and that
Shaquille O’Neil was his favorite player.
Later when teaching the staff about “Impulse Management”
using the traffic signal poster, he used Shaq as a model to
choose a good option when agitated. (See poster at
Start with the red light and then move on to the yellow
light for pausing to think of possible options before
As a result of the following story, each teacher was given a
copy and some posters of Shaquille O’Neil that could be
posted in classrooms.
Shaquille O’Neil is a professional basketball player in a
league that has the greatest athletes in the world. He is a
big man, seven feet-one inch tall and weighs 330 pounds. He
is very strong but agile, possessing a variety of athletic
moves around the basket.
But what makes him special is his attitude on the basketball
court. This combination of skill and attitude makes it
almost impossible for the other teams to keep him from
scoring. Opposing players hang on his arms and hit him in
the face and neck as they swing wildly, attempting to make
him miss the shot.
How does this superstar react to the rough play? A few years
ago some teams planned a strategy to stop him called the
“Shaq Attack.” Because Shaquille is not a good free throw
shooter, their idea was to foul him every time he went up
for a shot.
WHAT WOULD SHAQ DO? Before every game he considered his
options. He could get angry. He could hit back. He could
push defenders away with one hand and shoot with the other.
But all of these options would hurt his team by getting him
in foul trouble or thrown out of the game. So he made the
decision to stay in control and focus on making the basket
even though he knew he was going to get fouled hard. He also
decided to look at himself and work extra hard to improve
himself and become a better free throw shooter.
The “Shaq Attack” is not used anymore because one man stayed
in control and became the victor in a situation that could
have kept him and his team from becoming champions.
So when things don’t go your way and you start blaming
others or are about to make a poor decision, ask yourself,
“WHAT WOULD SHAQ DO?”
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
At the recent Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development (ASCD) convention, a high school principal
commented to me as he pointed to hundreds of exhibits of
books, technology, and teaching materials around the vast
exhibit hall, “None of these address the first and most
critical component of classroom teaching: CONNECTING!”
Gordon Neufeld, a Vancouver, Canada based clinical
psychologist directly addresses this concept. He speaks
about attachment and its necessity for young people to feel
attached until they are able to function independently.
Since attachment facilitates dependence, I prefer to use the
Dr. Neufeld cites an interesting procedure many teachers and
parents use with young people. It’s called “time-out.” He
makes the point that this approach sends the message that
separation is a more effective teacher than relationships.
Separation is the most wounding of all relationships. Dr.
Neufeld refers to separation as being insidious because it
is subtle in its harmful effects.
Dr. Neufeld states that oftentimes, if time-out is
necessary, it is the adult who needs it because the adult is
the one who is bothered or angry.
He suggests using discipline that does not divide or
separate. Keeping connected is a natural characteristic of
the Raise Responsibility System at
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
Saying, “I’m sorry,” or “I was wrong and you were
“I screwed up” requires a certain amount of security and
maturity. Such statements, said in sincerity, are very
difficult for some people of the male gender to say. Yet, no
other phrase (s) can do more to improve relationships.
When we do not admit an error or a mistake, in a sense, it
is a striving for perfection. In the book (pages 150-152) I
refer to perfectionism as a burden that no human should ever
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
Asking, “Why?” is an INeffective question when it relates to
For example, the answer to asking a young person, “Why are
you doing that?” will prompt answers such as, “I don’t know”
or an excuse, such as, “I have ADD.”
In contrast, asking a student, “Why are you LEARNING that?”
and receiving a similar response, “I don’t know,” is a
reflection on the teacher, not on the student.
Sharing the “why” for something you would like young people
to learn is an extremely effective teaching technique for
promoting learning and effort. It becomes “purpose driven,”
which, in turn,
–prompts self motivation,
–sustains that motivation,
–diminishes resistance, and
–enhances better decisions.
When you reflect on this idea, you will quickly realize that
the principle of explaining the” why” holds true in any
leadership, teaching, or parenting situation.
A teacher and I discussed this idea. As a challenge, she
asked, “Why study World War II?” My impromptu response:
–to learn about the quest for power
–to learn that economics has nothing to do with morality
–to learn how previous political decisions affect history
–to learn that appeasement invites aggressive behavior
–to learn that any situation must be viewed in context,
suggesting that Gandhi’s approach would only work in
democracies–that it would be short lived in Japan’s
imperial quest or Germany’s Nazism.
History teachers can list a plethora of additional reasons
to make the topic worthy of study.
My point, however, is that a teacher’s sharing with students
the “why” to the importance of the topic (1) challenges the
teacher to reflect on the reasons it is in the curriculum
(thereby promoting enthusiasm for the teacher) and (2)
sharing it is one of the most effective approaches for
reducing student apathy towards learning the topic.
“What’s in it for me?” is the intuitive question asked by
any purchaser, and that is the reason that successful
marketers always talk in terms of the “sizzle” rather than
the steak–the BENEFITS, rather than the FEATURES.
Teachers are marketers of information, knowledge, learning,
character development and a host of other FEATURES that
bring BENEFITS to their students. Most educators just don’t
think of themselves as marketers. But imagine how learning
could be so much more effective if we did!
Or to think of it another way, how successful would
marketers and advertisers be if they told their clients to
just put merchandise on the shelves? Forget about the
benefits. After all won’t consumers purchase what you want
them to buy just because you present it to them? Isn’t it
6. Discipline without Stress
I am a first-year home schooling mom. I have a self-
motivated third grade boy who also has Sensory Integration
Disorder. I also have a fifth grade girl who struggles with
staying focused and would rather read all day.
My biggest struggle this year has been our morning routine.
My daughter, who is very bright, has difficulty staying
within the parameters of time set out for her. The routine
set out is to be done in 1 1/2 hours. Many days this goes to
two hours or more.
Her routine is written out for her step by step and I feel
that it is very realistic. My desire is to start school at
8:00 a.m., but this rarely happens for her. She will use a
timer to be able to limit her shower and eating time, but it
is not enough to get us within the 1 1/2 hour limit. I am
tempted to and have slipped into giving consequences, but
they don’t last and are not effective. If you can offer any
assistance in helping us achieve this goal for her, I am
confident she will feel better about herself and our days
overall will be more effective.
The last newsletter you sent, has been the most helpful so
far. All of them are good, this last one seems to be more
instructional and gave me some good ideas to implement at
Thanks for your service to raising the quality of life in
ELICIT from her a consequence that will help her help
herself. ELICITING is the key. If you IMPOSE a consequence,
she will have no ownership in it and, as you found, it will
not be very effective.
Have her continually repeat to herself her new mantra:
If I follow my procedures, I will become ____________.
If I do not follow my procedures, my self-imposed
consequences will be_____________?”
7. What People Say
I must let you know how wonderful it will be to have the
opportunity to meet and work with you in person when you
visit New Zealand in January 2007.
In June, 2002 I subscribed to your monthly online
newsletter. Back then the circulation was just over 1800.
Your newsletter quickly became a regular part of our staff
meeting discussions. Teachers subscribed, and the way our
classrooms and school worked together began to change as we
embraced your work and implemented your ideas.
At the start of 2005, I presented each of my teachers with
their own copy of “Discipline without Stress, Punishments or
Rewards” and regularly include tips from your “Tips for
Parents” in our school newsletters–all with positive
feedback on how simple and effective your ideas are–without
stress, punishments or rewards!
Promoting responsibility, sending positive messages,
offering choices, and encouraging reflection allows
Upokongaro School to be truly learner focused. We pride
ourselves in our calm relaxed atmosphere where children are
guided to become self responsible with their behaviour and
in their learning.
For us, this is the greatest gift we can give learners to
ensure their ongoing success, love of learning and of
life–seeing what they can become.
Your work and ideas have made such a positive difference for
me personally andÊfor everyone at Upokongaro School. I am
really pleased that you will be visiting our beautiful
country and empowering New Zealand teachers.
Thank you for making a difference for Upokongaro School.
Naomi White, Principal
Wanganui, New Zealand
Preview a presentation by the author at
See a video clip from the In-House Staff Development from
the last link at