Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – December 2007

Volume 7 Number 12  


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



The following is from a recent e-mail sent me about the

book: http://www.disciplinewithoutstress.com/

“I ordered your book a few years ago. Loved it! Loaned it!

Then lost it!

“So I ordered it again. This is the best book I

have read on teaching in the classroom.”

Laura Fair

Science Teacher

Kenowa Hills High School

Grand Rapids, Michigan


I had the pleasure recently of presenting in Port Hardy on

Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Since most subscribers to this newsletter have never seen me

present, I am taking the liberty of sharing a comment sent

to me following that presentation:

“Dear Dr. Marshall:

“I had the great fortune to attend your workshop on Monday.

(November 19, 2007)

“My colleague and I came away inspired and eager to put into

practice your ideas.

“The first impression I wanted to share with you was about

how I felt during the workshop. Normally I don’t enjoy

workshops where we are treated like children and asked to

act out silly things or play games meant for children.

However, I really enjoyed the high-five for quiet and the

other tasks you asked us to do.

“You chose exercises that really helped us understand the

point you were trying to make. The high five offered the

added bonus of giving us the impression that you were in

charge. In previous workshops I attended, people talked

amongst themselves when others were trying to listen. In

this workshop, I got a feeling for what it would be like to

be in a class where the teacher was in charge. It really

promotes learning.”

Danielle Plummer


I simplified my home page at MarvinMarshal.com making the

descriptions of the links more accessible.

Scroll down past the cartoon to the the links in bold red


additional insights.


A teacher posted a request at

DisciplineWithoutStress@yahoogroups.com. The teacher had a

very challenging youngster and requested others to share

some ideas working with very difficult young students.

Following is one teacher’s response. HER IDEA IS WELL WORTH



“This is my second year using DWS (Discipline without

Stress). I have a first grader this year who has exhibited

many of the behaviors that you listed. I have used behavior

sheets, given out laps, writing sentences, separated him

from the group even using a science fair display board and

then ultimately had to suspend him for a short time. NOTHING

was working with him. He was speaking or shouting out in the

classroom and restroom, singing loudly, constantly

interrupting me during class with another grade (I teach

multigrade 1-8), just generally disrupting the entire class.

I was at my wits’ end with him, and we were nearly ready to

expel him as he was disturbing the other students and

interfering with their learning.

“This lad came to me as an uncivilized young ‘un.

“One evening I had an inspiration to use tangible items to

show him when he is interrupting or disrupting people. I

chose clothespins to use, as these can easily be clipped

together for ease of distribution, name-identified, etc. So

as not to single out this one student, I give four

clothespins to the lower grade students (Grades 1-3) at the

beginning of the school day. These clothespins have the

students’ names written on them and are clipped together,

making a square. Students put them on top of their desks,

where they are readily visible and accessible. When a

student interrupts me or disrupts the class or another

student, I quietly ask for a clothespin. At the end of the

day, I give a small token to those students who still have

four clothespins . The token may be a sticker, an eraser,

etc. It has worked miracles for this especially disruptive


“His mother and grandmother are so happy with his new and

improved behavior! Even his pastor says that he can see a

difference in him at church! Hallelujah!

“The clothespins give him something tangible to attach to an

undesirable behavior, of which he was not even aware, and

then make a better choice. He is prompted to make the

decision, “Is this worth losing a clothespin over–do I

really need to interrupt another student or the teacher, or

can I figure this out on my own?”

“It actually allows him to label his behavior, analyze it,

and then make a choice about his behavior. It has worked

wonders for him and I am still sane, as are the other

students in our classroom.

“I hope this may offer you something to try. It may not be




Debbie Brock

Manchester, Kentucky


How our thinking controls how we feel.

In my October newsletter, I wrote, “Feeling is what you get

for thinking the way you do.” Later that same month when I

traveled to South Africa with a group of school

administrators, I personally experienced the power of this


I was chosen as one of two among 35 delegates to make a

presentation. Due to various stories of lost and poor

handling of luggage in Johannesburg, the group was

discouraged from checking in any suitcases. It was suggested

to travel only with carry-on luggage. This meant that I

could bring a minimum of handouts. The one I chose was my

teaching model at


After my presentation, an administrator told me that it was

unprofessional to attempt to sell my program.

My website is loaded with information, all of which is

FREE–with the exception of my book, posters, and cards. My

monthly newsletter is free, and I grant permission for

anyone to use and even duplicate anything from the site,

including all of my articles. How could this man think the

way he did–that I was trying to make a profit by selling?

I was so startled that I actually became depressed for the

next two hours. Finally, I think I hit upon what prompted

his comment to me. For whatever reason, many educators

believe that education should not be a “for profit” endeavor

and/or people do not like to be sold to. The fact that my

name was on my teaching model meant to him that I was trying


ABOVE, I DO! My intent was to share with South African

educators a teaching model that could assist them with two

of their major problems–inappropriate behavior and

motivating students. Yet, in this man’s thinking, I was

“selling” my program.

When I thought about this, my self-talk became, “In a sense,

I was selling my program. The vast majority of my efforts in

the last number of years has been devoted to helping

improve teachers’ joy in the classroom and students’

learning how to behave more responsibly and become more

motivated to learn. Yes, I was selling my approach of

teaching and learning–EVEN THOUGH IT’S ALL FREE!”

As soon as this thought entered my mind, I could actually


immediately felt empowered, and my spirits dramatically

rose. I had just undergone a very personal experience

demonstrating how one’s self-talk creates one’s

reality–right out of the first paragraph in my book.


Never, never, never tell
another person YOUR ASSESSMENT OF

THAT PERSON. (This does not refer to a person’s behavior.)

The fact of life is that one never truly knows enough about

a person to do that. Recently, overhearing a couple who have

been married for many years, I heard the wife say to her

husband, “I didn’t expect you to think that way.” She was

pleasantly surprised by her husband’s take on a situation.

In this same vein of never completely knowing another

person, a very successful teacher told me that her high

school counselor told her that she was not smart enough to

go to college.

(Although college does require a minimum of academic skills,

perseverance is a far better determiner of college success

than innate intelligence.)

Certainly the counselor can explain what success in college

entails, but by labeling a person as “not smart enough”

(although it can spur some people to prove the other person

wrong) too often it has a devastating effect because it

removes hope, the basic and necessary ingredient for

perseverance and success.

The message we should be giving to a person of any age is

the main message of Les Brown, one of the most famous of

professional speakers who spent his entire school years in

special education classes. His message:

Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you shape your reality.


Efforts to promote learning (educational reform) have been

headline news for many years. If you reflect on the number

of reforms attempted in the United States in the last thirty

years, you would need many fingers to count them. Then if

you reflected on how many of these attempts to improve

education are extant, you would be hard pressed to need any


W. Edwards Deming, the man who brought the meaning of

quality as “continuous improvement” to the world, often

stated, “ninety-six percent of the problem lies in the

SYSTEM, not in the employees.”

Here are two examples (of which I can list many more) where

the educational SYSTEM uses unproductive approaches.

The first: Educators talk about “motivating students”

because of the apathy towards learning so many students

display today. We focus on “motivating.” However, when we

observe young children in their first years at school, we


A much more practical and effective approach would be to

REMOVE BARRIERS to their motivation. Asking students, “What

can we do to remove barriers to your learning?” and “What is

the school doing that hampers your desire to put forth

effort to learn?” will give some suggestions never thought

of before, one of which is simply TO LISTEN TO THE LEARNERS.

Not a rocket science idea!

Second, we were taught and think of the bell shape curve

where most of the population is in the middle with few at

the extremes.

Since OUR VISIONS SHAPES OUR BEHAVIORS, the bell-curve image

has us envisioning success for only half of the population,

the 50% at the right of the median. This picture can be

seen, for example, in standardized tests, in rankings, in

grading, and in competitive academics, e.g., Why does a high

school limit superior accomplishments to only one


Rather than thinking of a vision where only half are in the

upper 50%, as in a bell-shaped curve, a much more effective

vision would be to think of a curve shaped like a capital

letter “J.”

Here is how the image works. At the beginning of the school

year–before students have learned the subject matter–they

are at the left, lower part of the “J.” As students gain

mastery, they move to the right and upwards along of the “J”


Whereas a bell-shaped curve has us envision less of a

success rate, a “J” curve image prompts us to think of what

we can do to help ALL students improve and increase their

skills as the year progresses–so that by the end of the

year they are all at the incline of the “J.”

If we really want ALL STUDENTS TO SUCCEED, we should scrap

thinking of the bell-shaped curve and replace it with a “J”


6. Discipline without Stress

The following is from a recent post at


“Wow! These discussions are so very informative and helpful.

“This is my first year using Dr. Marshall’s program and

thirty-second year of teaching. I have good days and bad

days. There is so much more to all this than I had ever


“Overall, I have less stress. I see growth in responsibility

every day. As I work with my 5th grade students to empower

them, I see them taking control of their behavior and

choices. Is it perfect? No, far from it. But little by

little it gets better and better.

“No one really wants to be on Level B. Our students deserve

our guidance. I suspect the payoff will be tremendous for

them and for us. I am learning so much from these

discussions. It is so wonderful to communicate with others

“in the trenches” who really know and work with our daily

realities. Let’s keep the questions and answers going. We

are all benefiting. Thank you so very much.”

7. Testimonials/Research

I recently attended your seminar in Omaha, Nebraska.

Thanks for a great day and a philosophy that will change the

way that I teach and handle the difficult students that we

have here.

Today I implemented the program for the first time. The

students were very receptive to the idea of acting on Level

C, the Cooperation level. It’s something they believe they

can accomplish.

They also asked if they could hold me accountable. When I

talked to them on the bossing level, they said I was

“breaking” my own expectation by TELLING them what to do. We

had a great conversation.

Thanks again,


Mat Daniels, wrestling coach

PACT School

Council Bluffs, Iowa