Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – April 2007

Volume 7 Number 4 


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



“Although students usually comply with teacher exhortations,

they only do so to avoid discomfort or gain approval.

Marshall believes those external pressures are the main

cause of stress and poor relations in the classroom.”

–C.M. Charles, “Building Classroom Discipline, 9th

   Edition, Pearson Education, copyright 2008, page 213



How much would your school be willing to invest in order to

reduce absentee rates and collect more money from your


Just consider what it would be worth to your school to have

a system in place that would do the following as well:

–reduce office referrals

–increase teacher effectiveness

–promote student effort in learning

–promote responsible student behavior

–lower teacher and student stress levels

How much would your school be willing to invest to increase

academic achievement scores?

All these results can be achieved by implementing the

teaching and learning model outlined at


Learn how to in-service your school to achieve these results

by attending the “Train the Trainer” seminar in Southern

California on June 21 and 22.

The cost of attending this seminar is only $225 more than

the In-House Package itself described at


In addition to everything included in the package for the

unusually low investment of $1,500, participants will also

receive a PowerPoint program to use in their own

presentations along with a follow-up DVD of the seminar.

This two-day seminar will be held at

The Embassy Suites Hotel

1325 E. Dyer Road

Santa Ana, CA 92705

Phone: 714.241.3800

The hotel offers a free shuttle bus from the

Orange County/John Wayne/Santa Ana (“SNA”) Airport.

The seminar will start at 8:00 a.m. on June 21 (sign-in at

7:30 a.m.) and will conclude at 5:00 p.m. on June 22. Lunch

will be provided each day.

A small block of rooms has been set aside at the Embassy

Suites for participants under “Discipline without Stress” at

a special rate of $159 plus tax per night for the evenings

of June 20 and June 21. Please make your reservations by

calling the hotel directly. The special rate will last only

until the allotted rooms have been booked.

Registration for the seminar is being handled by RDL

enterprises, a company with excellent experiences

coordinating seminars for private, educational, and

governmental agencies.

If your school is interested in sending someone to attend

the seminar (or yourself as a staff developer), contact RDL

Enterprises at your earliest convenience. Attendance is

limited. Registration is available online at:


Karl Baur of RDL Enterprises can assist in answering

questions. He can be contacted at 916.443.0218 or



Here is a simple question to promote responsibility:

“What will you do about that?”


You will notice that when you smile at someone, the

“imitation response” that neuroscientists have discovered

prompts a natural tendency for the other person to smile

back. This phenomenon indicates that the face is an

enormously rich source of information about emotion. In

fact, our face is not just a signal of what is going on in

our mind; in a certain sense, it IS what is going on in our


The expression on our face is sufficient to create a marked

change in the autonomic nervous system. You can prove this

to yourself by thinking of a sad thought. With that thought

still in your mind, look up at the ceiling and smile. Then

try to keep that sad thought.

We think of the face as the residue of emotion. But the

process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotion can

START in the face. The face is not just a secondary

billboard for our internal feelings. It is an equal partner

in the emotional process.

Little did I realize when I wrote the opening few sentences

in my book that my statements would be scientifically

proven. The first few lines are: “Life is a conversation.

Interestingly, the most influential person we talk with all

day is ourself, and what we tell ourself has a direct

bearing on our behavior, our performance, and our influence

on others. In fact, a good case can be made that our

self-talk creates our reality.”

Our self-talk become our thoughts and shows on the

expressions of our face.

Scientists are discovering that the face is governed by a

separate, involuntary system. Whenever we experience a basic

emotion, that emotion is automatically expressed by the

muscles of the face. Our involuntary expressive system is the

way we have been equipped by
evolution to signal our feelings.

The argument can be made that the
system evolved so that

parents would be able to take care of
their children whose

feelings are shown on the face.

We have no switch to turn our expressions on or off, and

this may be a good thing.
Since others can see what you feel,

since people do better
when they feel better, and since others

may involuntarily imitate your responses, having positive self-talk

your effectiveness.


We adults dislike when
someone uses coercion or other

approaches that prompt negative feelings in us, but too

often we use such approaches with young people.

The essence of the famed psychologist Jean Piaget’s

hierarchy of cognitive development is that children’s brains

develop at different ages but they–even infants–have

similar feelings as adults. Young people experience negative

feelings of pain, anger, and fear–all of which prompt

resentment toward the person who prompted such feelings.

Sharing information and asking reflective questions do not

carry the baggage of prompting negative emotions and

resentments as coercion does.


The following is from a post at


I recently observed a 3rd grade classroom and was blown away

by the children. They all paid attention. The teacher was

very positive. The whole time I was there, I kept waiting

for the kids to start going crazy or for someone to get off

task but NONE ever did! The teacher was able to do a lot of

cooperative groupings for various subjects and even played

impromptu games to review vocabulary, etc.

It was really inspiring and fun to be in this classroom. The

teacher NEVER raised her voice and kept calm and cool the

entire time. I left inspired but very confused. You see, I

am student teaching in first grade and to say the least, my

kids seem like wild monkeys compared to hers. Every time I

try to do a group activity, things spiral out of control. I

am constantly focusing on discipline in my classroom because

there will always be students off task.

During center time, I have to watch them like a hawk because

they will start talking to their neighbor. The room also can

go from quiet to very loud. It feels like a battle everyday.

In that class, the teacher was actually teaching with NO

interruptions; the students were engaged and having fun. My

confusions is this: Is it partly because of 3rd grade, and I

am teaching first grade, that there is a difference in

management? Or can it be crazy in any grade? I know in my

class in the future I will practice and model the first

month of school the rules and procedures to death. Also in

my student teaching right now, my master teacher is really

strict and frequently gets angry at the students. The

teacher has modeled a “no-nonsense, high standards, and get

them where it hurts” kind of style.

I am not complaining because we have a TOUGH class. However,

I would LOVE to be the kind of teacher that I saw teaching

that 3rd grade class–always staying calm and very positive.

With a class like my first grade class, however, would it be

equally effective or better to try to be like the other

teacher? My sense is that they would RUN right over me.

Also, I personally have high expectations regarding walking

in line/talking in line/lining up by the door. However,

the 3rd grade teacher allowed them to talk as they lined up

and they knew to be quiet once they got outside. This is

making me wonder if I am choosing the right battles to

fight? My kids will talk while waiting to leave the door but

I want it SILENT!

Any thoughts from experienced teachers or people who have

had different styles over the years?


Kerry’s response

Wow! How lucky you are to have seen two very different

models of discipline and teaching so early in your career

and how aware you are to be asking the questions that you


I personally think that that’s what separates the more

mediocre teachers from the outstanding ones. The outstanding

ones are always aware. They are always questioning

themselves and looking for ways to improve. They don’t

remain stagnant, doing the same lessons year after year or

repeat ineffective discipline strategies that don’t make

them better and more competent. They choose to learn from


Another thing they do is ASK QUESTIONS and learn from

others. If you have seen a master teacher in action, go to

that person and ask questions. Find out first hand from this

grade three teacher, whose skills you so admire, what it is

that she does differently and so effectively. Likely,

because she is talented, she will know exactly what it is

that she does to create such a wonderful learning atmosphere

in her classroom at this point in the school year. Why?

Because likely she has spent a great deal of time to analyze

her own teaching in an effort to hone her skills. Likely she

knows exactly WHY she chooses to operate as she does. She

can probably explain what she does to achieve the results

you observed. I’m sure she’ll be willing to share her

thoughts and expertise with you! In my experience, excellent

teachers like to share.

Although from year to year, any given class can be easier or

more challenging to handle than the one the year before, I

would have to say that it is the teacher that makes the

biggest difference in how settled the children become during

that year. And as you observed, that feeling of students

being settled and mature is what creates the best learning


We have a grade six teacher in my school who is a perfect

example of this. Regardless of which students she has, and

regardless of any behaviour problems they might have had in

all the previous years of elementary school, the students in

her class are extremely well-behaved, focused, and

productive. They all make incredible academic progress in

the year they are with her and they all become model

citizens in our school. It looks like magic but when you

talk with her and observe her in action day in and day out,

you know that it isn’t effortless. She is working incredibly

hard to achieve this state of affairs in her classroom.

Here are just a few of the things that she does that come to


She is always learning. She is always trying to find better

ways to teach and to get better academic results through

creative programs. She doesn’t give dull assignments. She

motivates her students by offering them interesting and

challenging work. She hooks the kids right away!

She establishes strong personal relationships with her

students. For the first six weeks of school, she spends 20

minutes every lunch hour dining with two students a day. The

two students are invited to “do lunch” with her in another

little room in the school. They bring their regular lunch

and she brings dessert. They love it!

She says that she learns so much about her students and sees

such a different side of them. She gains compassion for

those who might initially annoy her. Of course, she starts

her lunch dates in September with her most challenging

students. She knows it’s important to get them onside first.

She has very high standards for academics. The students know

that they are expected to do their best work. Their work is

expected to be neat, thorough, and the best they can

personally produce. It needs to be redone if it’s anything

less. After a while they’re so proud of their best efforts,

they don’t want to give anything less.

She has students come in before and after school for extra

academic help. She works tirelessly to help her lowest

students improve. She actively looks for ways to adapt her

teaching for the lowest students in these one-on-one times

so that they too can understand. The kids then see

improvement they didn’t know was possible and they are

encouraged. They start to take ownership of their own

progress and put in extra effort willingly. Of course, their

parents are delighted and so encourage their child to

support the teacher even more.

She treats every child with absolute and equal respect. The

kids feel elevated just by the respectful tone she uses with

them. The lowest students in the class are given the same

opportunities to be model students as the most capable. They

might not all be doing the same level of work but they are

all doing their best and that’s what is expected, honoured,

and applauded.

She goes out of her way to provide opportunities for all the

grade six students in our school to be good school citizens.

She sets up voluntary programs where students sign up for a

week at a time to help in the school with a particular job

such as supervising and helping younger students in the

computer lab, answering the telephone while the secretary

eats, cutting and doing other tasks for the kindergarten

teacher, reading the school announcements over the PA

system, etc. Every single student volunteers because she

treats these jobs as the most important jobs in the world.

Naturally, every student wants to contribute to the running

of a successful school!

I could go on an on, but basically what she does can be

summed up with the phrase, “holding high expectations and

then empowering kids.” She expects a lot of them and

encourages them to be the best they can be. She gives them a

vision of themselves that they might never have considered

before–that they can be model students–and she shows them

how to achieve that. Once they’ve “tasted” that experience,

why would they want to be anything less?

A number of years ago, a core group of teachers in our

school started to go in a new direction. We wanted a type of

discipline that would allow us to treat all of our students

respectfully and at the same time would help them become

SELF-disciplined. We wanted to get rid of unhealthy

competition between classrooms and we wanted kids to do

things for the right reason.

In other words, we wanted to move away from kids doing

things with the main goal being to please US and start

doing things for reasons that would make a difference in

their own lives in the long run. We wanted them to WANT to

improve their academic skills because in the long term it

would pay off for THEM. We wanted them to behave themselves,

not because it would make it more convenient for us, but

because we wanted them to experience that one can take more

pride in oneself when acting in a mature and acceptable


We wanted them to collect phone books for recycling, not

because the phone company would give us 10 cents a book or

that perhaps their class could win a movie party, but

because it was good for the environment. We wanted them to

read a lot because it’s an important skill that also gives a

great deal of pleasure, not because they were focused on

winning a free pizza coupon. We wanted the kids to collect

sponsors for the annual Heart and Stroke Skipathon, not

because they could get prizes for themselves as a result,

but because they consciously would come to know that a great

way to gain a sense of personal satisfaction is through

choosing to support a worthy cause.

What got us started in this direction was a discipline

approach that I found on the Internet, quite by accident one

day about 5 or 6 years ago and shared with others on my

staff. We ended up doing a year-long book study of Dr.

Marvin Marshall’s, “Discipline without Stress, Punishments

or Rewards” that is based on developing INTERNAL motivation

in students, rather than on handing out external rewards in

the form of points, stickers, prizes, or by punishing

students by overpowering them.

Although this type of discipline approach is not something

that I could explain in a sentence or two, I can tell you

that the results sound very much like what you described

your grade three classroom to look like. I don’t know if

that particular teacher used Dr. Marshall’s approach or not,

but I would bet that her personal teaching philosophy was


Dr. Marshall has developed a system that can be used to

TEACH kids what mature, responsible and exceptional

behaviour looks like. The focus is always positive and

always involves having the students reflect on, and then

evaluate THEIR OWN behaviour, using a four level chart

referred to as the the hierarchy of social development. I

personally find that focusing on the top two levels of Dr.

Marshall’s hierarchy motivates the kids internally–to aim

for a high level of self-controlled and mature behaviour.

With this system, it is easy to INSPIRE kids to want to be


Briefly, the TOP two levels describe two types of behaviour.

The first basically boils down to “acceptable” and the

second, the highest level, boils down to “exceptional”

although that’s not how it’s stated on the hierarchy.

Teachers using this system actually teach kids that there is

a higher level than simply “acceptable behaviour.” IN MY 30



but powerful idea is what caught my eye in the first place.

Kids learn that an acceptable level of behaviour is the

level where a person is behaving appropriately but simply

to comply, conform to expectations, or cooperate with the

adult. Marshall has named this Level C. In simple terms,

this is the level of OBEDIENCE–when students are

motivated externally to behave themselves. They are behaving

themselves BECAUSE OF, and perhaps even FOR, the adult. In

all other discipline systems that I have seen, this is

typically considered the highest level of behaviour.

Marshall’s system, however, allows a teacher to help

students see that there IS in fact, a higher and MORE

INTERNALLY SATISFYING level than simple obedience. This is

what Marshall describes as Level D–the level of taking

initiative, the level of acting maturely, responsibly and

kindly–for a higher purpose than just staying out of

trouble. It is the level that offers high self-esteem as a

direct result of doing THE RIGHT THING–simply because it is

the RIGHT THING TO DO. This is the level of internal

motivation. Teaching about Level D allows teachers to

introduce this kind of thinking to students even at a very

young age. My teaching partner and I use it easily with the

grade ones that we teach and have used it when we taught

kindergartners in previous years. It’s a K-12 program. Even

adults find it personally useful.

For example, you mentioned the fact that you noticed the

grade three students you observed were able to quiet

themselves at the door before exiting. Our class is able to

do this at this time of year, but not just by luck. The

first order of business in the “Discipline without Stress”

approach is the careful, thorough and repeated teaching of

procedures, based on the teachings of Harry Wong. At this

point in the year, the kids know the routines very well and

so don’t need constant reminders of how to behave

themselves. An observer might mistakenly think that the

students didn’t need routines at all, but in fact, it’s just

the opposite case. Students need to practice teacher-set

routines for many months in the early part of the

year–until they automatically can carry out what is

expected of them. Even then, they need reminder lessons

every once in a while throughout the entire school year.

Another reason that our students can and want to quiet

themselves is that my partner and I purposely and routinely

discuss the personal benefits for people who choose to

operate at that highest level of behaviour–Level D–the

level of internal motivation. It FEELS GOOD INSIDE to be

able to think of yourself as a person who is in control.

Impulsiveness and poor behaviour signals a lack of internal

control. Even grade ones like to think of themselves as

mature and able to handle themselves well.

We use every opportunity we can in the regular course of the

day to discuss mature behaviour and encourage our students

to exhibit it by choice. When something is presented as a

choice, it is all that more attractive.

Still another secret is to be positive in the classroom. I

usually begin a trip to the door to line up, by asking a

positive question. For example: Who’s hungry and would like

to have their snack? Who can’t wait to get to music today?

Who’s looking forward to the story Mr. ___ has for us in the

library today? Who’s wondering what “Follow the Leader”

action the special helper will choose in the gym today?

After I get their attention in a positive way, I ask another

question or two, which INSPIRES good behaviour in the

line-up. What would we have to do as we come to the door so

that we could quickly be on our way to the washroom and then

snack? What would a mature student, who wanted to get in as

much fun PE time as possible, do as they left their desk and

neared the doorway?

Often, at this point in the year, I wouldn’t even need to

take an answer from a child. But earlier in the year, this

type of question might result in a two or three minute

discussion about:

–the fact that quiet walking through the hall is essential

so as not to disturb other classes,

–that if we talk noisily at the door, we are using up the

precious minutes of our library or music time slot or,

–that by chatting at the door we are actually preventing

ourselves from doing the very thing we WANT to do: Eating

that snack that we can’t wait to have!

With ongoing, proactive (BEFORE any misbehaviour has

occurred), positive discussions like this, combined with

using everyday opportunities to reflect on the fact that it

feels pretty good inside to have acted with maturity, the

kids indeed start to show independent signs of maturity that

often isn’t typical of young children when regular imposed

forms of discipline are used (nagging, threatening

punishments, getting mad, taking away points, offering

treats as bribes, etc.)

If you’re interested in learning more about this type of

teaching that is meant to develop SELF-discipline and is

based on:

1. being proactive and positive,

2. offering choices, and

3. using reflective questions to influence a change in


you might want to take a look at Marvin Marshall’s website:


He also puts out an extremely good monthly newsletter that’s

free. The back issues from many years are available at this

link: http://marvinmarshall.com/articles.htm

There is also a mailring to support teachers trying to learn

how to teach through internal motivation using his approach:


Good luck in your newly beginning teaching career!

Kerry in BC Canada

6. Discipline without Stress

One of the attributes of the system is the promotion of the

basic characteristic of any character education approach:

Taking responsibility for one’s behavior. Without

“responsibility” no other trait of civility would be


Perhaps this is a reason that I have again been asked to

speak in July at the largest gathering of educators

interested in promoting character education. See


George Washington and many of the other founding fathers of

the USA first focused on how one could IMPROVE ONESELF as

the first criterion to influence others. “The Rules of

Civility,” the etiquette planner that Washington copied as a

teenager, begins with the following admonition:

“Every action done in company ought to be done with some

sign of respect to those that are present.”

Perhaps the concept of “appropriate” or “unwritten rules”

should be revisited with young people. Examples abound:

wearing pajamas in private vs. in public, using certain

language in private vs.public, and doing what comes

naturally in private or in public.

Civility itself is founded on the concept of taking

individual responsibility for appropriateness and respect

for others.

7. Testimonials/Research

The following story is about Positive Behavior(al)

Interventions and Supports (PBIS)–or just Positive Behavior

Support (PBS)–that has been discussed in recent e-zines.

We know that rewarding fosters competition to see who gets

the most number of rewards. We also know that using rewards

as incentives to young people fosters feelings of

punishments to those in school who believe they should have

received a reward, but didn’t.

The post describes how external manipulators (giving rewards

as reinforcers) do not do what adults would like them to do,

namely, transfer the desired motivation.


I have a cute story about rewards in the classroom. I teach

first grade, and sometimes just getting the kids to remember

their folders and to sharpen pencils is a chore. I usually

start out the year reminding them, nagging them, and finally

giving up. THEY don’t care if they have a folder or a

pencil. I’m the only one who seems bothered. So I put a

sticker chart in their folders and offer stickers and trips

to the treasure box if they come prepared. I KNOW it’s not

helping, and it bothers me every day as I waste time on this

activity, but at least they have pencils when we start to


One day recently I was monitoring the kids’ work. I

commented to one boy about his pencil. It was really short

and dull. He said it was all he had, but in his pencil

holder on his desk there were three long sharp pencils just

sitting there. I asked him about those. He said, “But those

are my sharp pencils! I don’t use those. Those are just for

getting stickers!”

It took me all year to realize that this kid had used the

same pencil EVERY DAY to get a sticker but never

a sharp pencil to write with! So much for external motivation

transferring to internal motivation!