Volume 7 Number 12
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:
The following is from a recent e-mail sent me about the
“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.”
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
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
entitled, “THE HIERARCHY” AND “IMPULSE MANAGEMENT” for
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
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
YOUR READING IF YOU ARE A TEACHER OR PARENT WORKING WITH A
VERY CHALLENGING YOUNG PERSON.
“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
totally with DWS, but I AM BEGINNING TO “WEAN” THE CLASS OFF
THE CLOTHESPINS ALREADY, NOT GIVING THEM OUT 2 DAYS LAST
WEEK. STUDENTS WERE FINE WITHOUT THEM!”
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
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
to “sell it.” SHOULD I JUST GIVE IT AWAY? AS INDICATED
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
feel my body change. THIS THINKING CHANGED MY FEELING. I
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.
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
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.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
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
see THAT THEY ARE ALREADY MOTIVATED.
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
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
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.”
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
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
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.
Mat Daniels, wrestling coach
Council Bluffs, Iowa