Volume 9 Number 4
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Discipline without Stress
7.Testimonials and Research
MONTHLY RESPONSIBILITY AND LEARNING QUOTE:
If you are not at Level D motivation every so often,
you may find yourself like a member of a dogsled team.
If you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.
“DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS – How to Handle Every Discipline
Problem” will hold a teleconference on May 13 sponsored by
Otter Creek Institute. Information and subscription at
various time zones are available at:
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
Here are three INTEGRITY-building
1) keep your promises,
2) talk and walk your values, and
3) demonstrate fairness.
Rank them from 1 to 3 with “1” being the best.
Which one are you best at? Which one are you the poorest at?
What CAN you do after your assessment?
What WILL you do?
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
The following is from a mailring post by Kerry.
These days as a teacher, if I notice that some of my
students (particularly at the middle or high school level)
are balking when I ask them to do something, then I know
that their attachment to me is weak and that I had better
focus on improving the connection between us. With these
very difficult teenagers, I know that if they don’t want to
be with me and don’t want to take my advice, I’m not going
to be able to teach them anything; their energy is going
against my own and we will be at a standstill, or worse.
That’s when I work on relationships. I follow Gordon
Neufeld’s ideas for getting “stuck” kids back on track.
Immature kids are often stuck in counterwill. (MM note:
Counterwill is the natural aversion to coercion, which for
an oppositional or defiant student can include accepting
directions from a teacher.)
The first step is to remove all coercion from my voice and
requests and instead offer choices, explaining that learning
anything is a choice. If they don’t want to learn something
I’m suggesting, they’re free to decline. That immediately
lessens the tension, and then I offer other activity choices
or even offer ending the session at this point, always
making sure to “bridge” to the future. “That’s okay, we can
try this another time if you’re interested,” or “If you ever
decide you’d like to learn______, we can come back to
I also prompt students to find their mixed feelings in the
situation. Neufeld explains: Immature/impulsive people think
from only one perspective at a time. When any particular
emotion strikes them, they become “emotionally hijacked”
–all or nothing. In contrast to a mature person, an
immature person doesn’t automatically look for a conflicting
viewpoint to consider. Without being able to hold mixed
feelings on a topic, an immature person has no train of
thought that would serve to temper an initial
We can help by modeling a more mature thinking process for
them. As teachers, we can express the two opposing views
that would allow students to find balance and therefore make
a more mature choice in the situation: “Part of you wants to
move forward in improving your reading, but part of you
doesn’t like someone telling you what to do. Don’t worry. We
don’t have to do any activity you don’t think would be
helpful. There are lots of other activities we can move on
to.” Then, trying to get their hands on the steering wheel,
I might say, “Is there any activity that you think will help
you more than this one?”
More of Kerry’s posts and her NEW “categorized by topic”
blog are available at
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
When you are about to engage in a disagreement, try
Say, “I don’t want to win; I just want to understand what
you are saying. My objective is to CLARIFY, NOT INFLUENCE.
You’re saying that you believe A B and C. I believe A B and
D. So we really agree more than we differ.”
At the worst you have clarified. At the best you have
minimized any disagreement.
In any event, it’s good to know where you agree and where
THE KEY IS TO STATE AT THE OUTSET THAT YOUR GOAL IS NOT TO
WIN THE ARGUMENT.
Clarity is far more important than agreement.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
“TEACH LIKE YOUR HAIR’S ON FIRE” (hard cover: Viking) is
perhaps the most inspiring book for upper elementary
students that I have ever read. However, the ideas are
applicable to so many subjects, grades 4-12. The author is
Raif Esquith,” a 5th grade teacher in an “underprivileged”
area of Los Angeles.
He starts his wonderful book teaching Lawrence Kohlberg’s
levels of moral development, which I also taught until I
developed The Hierarchy of Social Development.
“Room 56 is a special place not because of what it has, but
because of what it is missing: fear.” (page 5) This is
exactly what was created when I developed and implemented
“Discipline Without Stress.” In essence, fear and
competition are replaced with TRUST and COLLABORATION.
Here are just a few gems from the book:
“We need to show our children that proper behavior is
expected, not rewarded.” (p.17)
“I teach my students that HOW they study is far more
important than HOW MUCH they study.” (p. 77)
“I always remind my students that life’s most important
questions are never asked on standardized tests. No one asks
them questions regarding character, honesty, morality, or
generosity of spirit.” (p. 83)
“It is important to remember that we teachers individually
define the word FAILURE. In Room 56, a rocket that doesn’t
fly is not a failure. Failure only happens when students
stop trying to solve a problem.” (p. 103)
“I soon learned a basic truth about the arts: Students
involved in art (music, art, etc.) education are learning
about things far beyond the art they study. (p. 107)
“We strive for perfection but never achieve it. The journey
is everything.” (p. 109)
“Students in Room 56 learn that being nice to a player who
screws up (and who surely feels bad enough already) is not
only the RIGHT thing to do, but the SMART thing as well.”
“In order to excel at anything, kids must learn to practice
without a teacher constantly evaluating them. . . . learn to
practice for themselves and not for the teacher.” (p. 128)
“It is my job to open the door; students are welcome to walk
through it or not.” (p. 180)
The following are some subjects of his chapters that are
practical, easily adaptable, and truly inspirational:
reading, writing, math, history, science, art, music,
physical education, study skills, delayed gratification,
finance, problem solving, and persistence–to name just a
(I purchased the book on Amazon.com for less than $20
US Dollars) .
6. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
I am a kindergarten teacher in Akron, Ohio and am trying out
the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model in my classroom
as part of my masters work at Malone University.
I have purchased and read your book and several of your
articles. I love the positive and simple nature of your
I was especially searching for something to help me this
year, as what I had used with success in the past–a basic
reward/punishment discipline plan–has not been successful
in my new urban school.
My school has implemented PBS this year, but it has not
reduced the number of office referrals. The building as a
whole is quite chaotic. (MM note: Positive Behavior(al)
Interventions and Supports–PBIS OR JUST BPS–IS THE OLD
SKINNERIAN APPROACH OF “CATCHING KIDS DOING WHAT YOU WANT
THEM TO DO AND THEN REWARDING THEM,” JUST AS ONE WOULD TRAIN
My students understand the hierarchy and can identify their
own level, but their impulsivity and extreme misbehaviors
are so much greater than what I have experienced at other
schools. When I stop to speak to one student, others are
displaying level A and B behaviors and are often not just
disruptive, but are very rough and unsafe.
I was wondering if you have any specific advice for teachers
in inner city schools. I would really like to make this
work but am extremely frustrated because it is often so
much easier and faster to just give a consequence and move
I look forward to and appreciate any suggestions that you
Implementing the following will definitely help you–and
1) Post your key question at
to get additional suggestions.
2) Print or make a poster described at
Read the description at
Read all the links at
3) Teach, practice, and reinforce a procedure for each and
EVERYTHING. Your students need STRUCTURE more than anything
4) Make a large poster like that at
5) Have a class meeting described in the book and at
6) Practice the impulse control described at Poster 1 at
http://marvinmarshall.com/posters.html and in the book.
7) Remind your students that when they act on level A or B,
they are telling you that they are not mature enough to be
in control and that, since they cannot control themselves,
they want you to boss and control them. WHEN STUDENTS ACT ON
UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS, YOU NEED TO BE AUTHORITARIAN JUST TO
SURVIVE, but students have made a major choice for you to
act this way towards them. THIS NEEDS TO BE COMMUNICATED TO
Again, teach a PROCEDURE for each thing that bothers you.
Cheers, smiles, and persistence,
I love your book and I have been using your strategies both
at home and in the classroom. I can see a significant
different in the behaviors and attitudes of both my daughter
El Segundo, California