Volume 7 Number 8
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:
Education, democracy, and individualism are not only
interwoven, they rely on each other for the creation of a
–John Dewey (1859-1952)
From a plaque under his sculpture
The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
I was recently asked whether or not I am a behaviorist.
Behaviorism usually refers to approaches of Pavlov
(classical conditioning of stimulus/response) and Skinner
(behavior modification by reinforcing behavior AFTER an act
Behavior modification is popular in schools, especially with
special education specialists. Unfortunately, MANY RESEARCH
STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THE APPROACH TO BE INEFFECTIVE. However,
its staying power is attested to by an increasing number of
states mandating that schools use “positive behavior
support” that is based on a behavior modification model.
The essence of behavior modification is to REWARD DESIRED
BEHAVIOR AND IGNORE UNDESIRED BEHAVIOR. The fact that
inappropriate behavior is ignored can send the message that
nothing is wrong with the behavior, and so there may be
little incentive to stop doing it. Therefore, a major
problem with the approach is that when undesired behavior is
not addressed such behavior can become “reinforced.”
Since all behavior modification RELIES ON AN EXTERNAL
STIMULUS–something or someone external or outside the
person–in a certain sense, this can be related to level C
in that the motivation is external.
The RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM encourages INTERNAL
motivation (level D). External motivation (level C) is
acceptable, but it is not the highest or most effective
approach to changing behavior.
People who rely on behavior modification believe that
rewarding behavior influences the person to change. But in
reality, only the MOTIVATION CHANGES. This can be witnessed
in young people who ask, “What will I get if I do it?” The
motivation lasts only as long as the reward lasts; when the
reward is gone, so is the motivation.
External sources prompt us to act, but the behavior itself
is not automatic; nor does one’s BEHAVIOR ever come from
outside the person. Behavior is a person’s own choice. The
actions may be habitual and/or nonconscious, but the
behavior ALWAYS comes from that person. Therefore, it would
be misleading if I classified myself as a behaviorist in the
traditional sense of the word. I could classify myself as an
INternalist–a word that perhaps I have just coined.
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
Last month I spoke in St. Louis at the largest character
education conference in the country. Every participant
received a button from one of the sponsors with the word
“Responsibility” on it.
Regardless of the character trait–whether it be
self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance, fairness,
honesty, empathy, integrity or any other–every trait relies
on responsibility. No positive character trait can exist
without it. In addition, none can be mandated or given.
These traits are not inborn. They need to be learned. This
Part I of the teaching model is the foundation for promoting
responsibility. WHEN WE OMIT TEACHING AND PRACTICING
PROCEDURES, WE ARE ACTUALLY DEPRIVING YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE
OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME MORE RESPONSIBLE.
Following is a good classroom management checklist for
schools starting this month or early in September. It’s from
Serrano Intermediate School of Lake Forest in Orange County,
DO YOUR STUDENTS KNOW:
How to enter your classroom quietly?
What they should do right after the bell rings?
How to pass up assignments?
Where and how to turn in late work?
How to distribute handouts you give them?
How to retrieve their graded work?
When to sharpen a pencil or get a tissue?
When to request to use the restroom?
When to talk?
How to participate in classroom discussions?
How to behave during a test?
When to get a dictionary or classroom resource?
What to do if they don’t have a pencil or paper?
When to dig in their backpacks?
How to keep backpacks out of walkways?
How and when to move around the room?
How to take, use, and return classroom supplies?
How to appropriately use classroom equipment?
How to throw away trash without disturbing others?
When and how to clean up a work area?
What to do if they finish an assignment early?
When and how to work quietly?
When they can read leisurely?
How to behave during a classroom video and audio?
How to record assignments in their planner?
What information is available on your webpage?
How to work cooperatively in groups?
Evacuation plans during an emergency?
How to work with a substitute teacher?
How to exit the classroom at the end of the period?
HAVE YOU MODELED THE BEHAVIORS FOR THEM?
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
(NBPTS) held their biennial conference in Washington, D.C.
last month. I had the privilege of presenting at the
conference and also listening to Ron Clark, the author of
“THE ESSENTIAL 55,” a book I have often recommended. His
keynote at the conference, the DVD about him, and his
teaching itself all revolve around teaching procedures (Part
I) and practicing positivity (the first practice of Part II)
of the Marvin Marshall Teaching Model described at
(Incidentally, I had the great pleasure of speaking to all
certificated and classified staff of the Westside Union
School District in Southern California this month. The
district has certainly created a learning community. My
entire keynote presentation shared the same points that Ron
Clark emphasizes: (1) TEACH PROCEDURES and (2) EMPOWER and
ENCOURAGE TRUST, SAFETY, AND DIGNITY BY COMMUNICATING TO
YOURSELF AND OTHERS IN POSITIVE TERMS.)
The DVD, “THE RON CLARK STORY,” shows how his bottom-level
class in Harlem, New York City, exceeded test scores of the
school’s two slowest classes, the two middle classes, and
the two highest classes.
If teachers just taught procedures and talked with students
in encouraging and positive ways, their personal and
professional lives would become dramatically more joyful and
Invest in Ron Clark’s book, “THE ESSENTIAL 55.” While you
are making the purchase, add to your shopping cart the DVD,
“THE RON CLARK STORY.” You will have a wonderful time with
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
If you are a classroom teacher, you will find the following
statements and responses to a recent e-mail well worth your
First and foremost, thanks for taking the initiative to
share. I’ll give your statement and then I’ll respond.
I’m an elementary character education/physical education
teacher and I wanted to share somewhat of a different twist
on your system. My biggest struggle was using the letters A
B C D as it is so ingrained in our students that A is “best”
and D is “worst.”
The “difficulty” is with perception. There have been
numerous posts at the yahoo support group by people who
originally were apprehensive but found that STUDENTS OF ALL
AGES had no difficulty understanding the concepts and did
not confuse a grading system with levels of social
Letters and vocabulary are always used in context. For
example, when do you spell “to”? or is it “two”? or is it
“too”? Of course, it depends on the context.
Some people don’t like the term “anarchy”–but they miss the
power of the vocabulary when they do not use it. The impact
of the word is felt when applied to school and life’s
situations. IT IS THE VOCABULARY THAT PROMPTS STUDENTS
GROWTH AND MATURITY.
So…..I converted to a 1-5 system and use it in various
I’m delighted that you are proactive by teaching a
hierarchy. This is good, but you can do even better. The
power of differentiating and clearly understanding the
difference between external and internal motivation seems to
be lacking in a numbering system. For example, after reading
“A Letter Worth Reading” at
will quickly conclude that numbers lack the power of words.
By the way, there are a number of examples at
showing how the levels can be used in various
situations, including physical education and character
Since this is the beginning of the school year, you may want
to experiment. Use the vocabulary this year, and then at the
end of the year compare which is more effective–or, better
yet, ask your students which they believe would be more
effective: numbers or vocabulary.
Here are some of the ways I use it: I use it as a tool for
the kids to answer “reflection questions” to start class,
during and at the end. For instance I will ask them upon
entering, “How’s your life going?” and they simply answer me
by raising their fingers 1..2…3…4….5 with 1 being the
worst and 5 best. This really works great for the kids who
may be a little shy about talking in front of the class.
Some of the other questions might be: How hard have you
worked today?” How’s your self/impulse control been today?
How much did you like the game we were playing?
Posing reflective questions is great. It’s the third
principle to practice.
I use it for behavior issues where I can simply look at a
student and show him how I feel his self-control is or
You–rather than the student–have taken the responsibility
here because you are doing the “doing.” To promote
responsibility and reduce any stress on your part, the
“doing” should come from the student. What you are doing is
O.k., but it’s using an external approach–level C. Level D
would put the responsibility on the student by having the
student reflect without the student’s relying on the the
teacher to change behavior.
Or I may ask them how they think they are doing on a 1-5 and
then ask them if they can possibly get to a level 4 or even
You are using the power of a hierarchy and prompting
reflection on behavior. Excellent! But remember, the
hierarchy can be used even more effectively by increasing
academic performance (Part IV) of the teaching model.
We’re using this system with our Rookie Success League this
summer for economically disadvantaged kids as well.
Commendations! This is Stephen Covey’s first habit of highly
effective people. You are proactive in that you are teaching
something first–in contrast to being “reactive” by waiting
until something happens and then trying to rectify it.
So…..just wanted to share that and get your thoughts and
say “Thanks” for “inspiring” me.
I wish you the best and a most successful school year and
again thank you for sharing.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
The brain and body are an
integrated system. Feelings and
cognition are interrelated and have a significant effect
upon learning. If you are a parent, you know this. When your
child returns home after the FIRST day of school, you may
ask “How was school?” You also may ask, “What did you
learn?” And you most certainly ask, “Do you like your
We know from our personal experiences and through research
on the workings of the brain that how we feel has a
significant effect upon what and how we think and behave.
Therefore, IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN TEACHERS AND
STUDENTS IS ONE OF THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL REFORMS THAT SCHOOLS
The three practices of self-talking and communicating in
positive terms, of empowering by choice, and of using the
skill of asking reflective questions are universal and
enduring approaches that improve relationships. Examples are
in Part II at
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
The University of Manchester in England set up a “Babylab”
to investigate how babies think. The laboratory measures the
diameter of the pupils in eyes 50 times a second as a
9-month-old follows a train that performs the improbable:
The train enters a tunnel in one color and comes out another
The pioneer in child development was the Swiss, Jean Piaget,
who started his experiments in the 1920’s. They led him to
conclude that infants younger than 9 months have no innate
knowledge of how the world works. For example, infants do
not comprehend that things actually exist when they are not
seen. Babies must, Piaget concluded, gradually construct
knowledge from experience.
In recent years, however, “nativist” psychologists have come
to believe that infants arrive already equipped with some
knowledge of the physical world. The Babylab’s director,
Sylvan Sirois, has been putting these theories through
rigorous tests and his conclusions tend to be more
Piagetian. “Babies,” he says, “know squat.”
Infants as young as 3.5 months reliably look longer at an
impossible event than at a normal one. His experiments
indicate that a baby’s fascination with physically
impossible events merely reflects a response to stimuli that
are novel. When the 9-month-old sees the blue train come out
of the tunnel green a few times, he gets as bored as when
the train comes out of the tunnel in the same color it
entered. So rather than conclude that infants can understand
the concept of an impossibility, the fact may be that they
are simply able to perceive some novelty in it. THE CHILD
GETS BORED BECAUSE THE BRAIN GETS HABITUATED AND THE
ATTENTION LEVEL STEADILY DROPS.
We know that the brain is always active. Stimuli that is
constant and familiar to the brain habituates it. You know
this from your own experience of really being impressed by
something–such as your new home or new car. However, after
living in the abode for awhile or driving the car for a few
weeks, your awareness of the first thrill you experienced
The same is true for the chip made when the heavy pot was
accidentally dropped in the kitchen sink. The chipped sink
really bothered you at first. Now you hardly notice it.
How does this relate to learning? Novelty drives
attention–regardless of age. Teachers who continually
create new and novel approaches keep the attention of their
In addition, these teachers reap one of the joys from both
the profession and from living; they receive the
satisfaction that accrues from their own growth.
6. Discipline without Stress
Members of the “Discipline without Stress Yahoo group” can
see posters of the different levels created by Cindy Nadon
of British Columbia. They were recently posted by Kerry
Weisner to support discussions about teaching the hierarchy
on the Discipline without Stress mailring. I found Cindy’s
posters very effective when I visited Kerry’s classroom last
fall. The posters work beautifully as a concrete, visual
representation of the hierarchy.
Kerry talks to her students about what the levels would look
like in different school scenarios such as in hallways, the
computer lab, the bathrooms, etc. She starts with the four
posters, each showing a piece of trash from the classroom
floor. At the lowest level of behavior, Level A, a student
might pick up the trash but then throw it at someone. Moving
up the ladder, a student operating on Level B also would not
feel compelled to pick up the trash but instead might kick
it around the room. At an acceptable Level C, a student
would pick up the trash at the request of the teacher. At
Level D, a student would take the initiative to pick up the
trash and deposit it in the trash can without being
asked–simply because this would be the right thing to do.
Membership on the Discipline without Stress mailring is
free, and you can choose to either receive posts by personal
email or by simply viewing the site online.
JOINING JUST TO SEE THE POSTERS IS WELL WORTH THE EFFORT.
The posters are simple to make and very effectively depict
the levels. To become a member, visit:
As a member, you can view the posters at
CLICK ON EACH THUMBNAIL PHOTO TO SEE A LARGER VERSION. The
crunched papers in the photos are simply glued to the
posters. (Notice the teacher’s presence in Level C, but not
in Level D.)
The following is from a post
QUESTION: I’m finally starting to implement DWS in my
classroom and I’m really loving it. I made some great
posters to help the kids and it’s going well. However I’m
having a hard time helping the kids come up with strategies
to avoid misbehaving. The biggest problem we have is talking
when they’re not supposed to. We go through the questions
about what level that behavior is and whether it’s
appropriate, which they are able to answer just fine. But
when I ask them what can they do next time (or when they
need to list strategies on their reflection sheets), all
they ever say is “don’t talk”, or “ignore others.” What can
I suggest to these kids to help them stop talking? Thanks!
“Don’t talk” and “ignore others” are not procedures. Have
them create and practice a procedure(s) by working in small
The assignment is, “Your neighbor is talking and it is
getting in the way of your learning. What procedure can your
group come up with that you can use to remind the person
that the person is letting an impulse direct that person’s
behavior? What can we do to GENTLY REMIND the person to
Each group will come up with some procedure. You can have
the groups share.
Here is what you have done: (1) You have empowered the
group. If someone is talking when the person should not be,
you now EXPECT the group/class to handle the situation. In
other words, You have placed the responsibility on the
students–where it belongs. The problem/challenge is now
theirs. (2) You have had the students create a procedure
that will help redirect impulsive behaviors. (3) You were
positive by replacing a negative (“Don’t talk” and “ignore
others”) with something positive–a specific procedure they
http://marvinmarshall.com/impulsemanagement.html has an
example of text you may want to refer to.
REMEMBER: It is simply not realistic to expect young people
to learn a procedure and then continually remember to use
it. To be successful, the teacher must be consistent by
reinforcement and practice.
The following is from a partial post on July 13 at
I have been teaching for 10 years now and was introduced to
Dr. Marshall from a student teacher I had in my classroom
this year. I have read the book. Thank goodness! I am so
excited for this upcoming school year.