Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – February 2009

Volume 9 Number 2


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research



“This means trust rather than fear,
encouragement rather than force,
cooperation rather than competition,
challenge rather than threat,
recognition rather than praise,
self-discipline rather than punishment, and
satisfaction rather than reward.”
–From “The Most Meaningful, Persuasive Book I Have Ever
Read: ‘Perceiving Behaving Becoming’ ASCD 1962 Yearbook,
pages 202-203″ Updated 2001 ASCD.
–Thanks to Bill Page http://www.teacherteacher.com


A teacher wrote: “I’m impressed with
separating the behavior
from the kid. I’ve just read about the wise teacher who told
a student that he won’t do that when he becomes a man. It
worked! That kid sat right up and so did all the others.”

This idea for promoting responsible behavior was shared by
Dr. Martin Brokenleg. A post about his message (which
dovetails with DWS incredibly well) is at at

His message is from a First Nations’ (North American)
perspective. Modeling, group influence, discussion, and
positive expectations are used, rather than rewards and
punishments. “Standing Bear” does not recall his father
saying, “You have to do this,” but instead he would often
say something like, “Son, some day when you are a man you
will do this.”

Thanks to Kerry


On the “Discipline Without Stress” book’s back cover

“This book shows how internal motivation
is far more powerful and effective in changing
behavior than are punishments or rewards.”


The most powerful motivators are internal, not external.

For instance, when people kept a journal of how they felt
while they performed a range of tasks throughout the day,
one result was clear: They felt better doing work they loved
rather than work they did only because they were rewarded
for it. When doing a task for the pleasure of it, their mood
was upbeat, both happy and interested. When doing something
simply for the pay, they were bored, disinterested, even
mildly irritated (and most unhappy if the tasks were
stressful and onerous). It feels better to do what we have
passion for, even if the rewards are greater elsewhere.

When all is said and done and a job has been pursued to its
end, what are the ultimate sources of satisfaction? That
question was asked of more than seven hundred men and women
in their sixties, most of whom were nearing the end of
successful careers as professionals or business executives.
Most rewarding was the creative challenge and stimulation of
the work itself and the chance to keep learning. The next
three sources of reward: pride in getting things done, work,
friendships, and helping or teaching people on the job. Much
lower on the list came status, and even lower was financial

Traditional incentives miss the point when it comes to
getting people to perform at their absolute best. To reach
the top rung, people must love what they do and find
pleasure in doing it.

Motive and emotion share the same Latin root, “motere,” to
move. Emotions are, literally, what move us to pursue our
goals; they fuel our motivations, and our motives in turn
drive our perceptions and shape our actions. Great work
starts with great feeling.
Goleman (p. 106).


I recently had the pleasure of presenting at Winton
School of the Hayward Unified School District in Northern
California. The school started implementing “Discipline
Without Stress” at the beginning of the school year. Donald
West, principal, started the year with an emphasis on two

PROCEDURES: After serving in a variety of positions he
reflected on the question, “What makes some schools operate
more smoothly than others?” His answer: There are few
emergencies in smooth running schools. These schools have
routines and procedures for almost everything. In contrast,
schools without procedures experience emergencies on a
regular basis.

RELATIONSHIPS: Donald West understands that teaching and
relationship are intertwined. As social beings, when
students do not feel that they belong or do not feel
accepted, their negative emotions filter their perception
and cognition. To ensure that every student at the middle
school would feel accepted and a sense of belonging, the
principal collaborated with the staff to have teachers
conduct some relationship building activities at the very
beginning of the school year.

The day following my presentation, a teacher sent me the
following e-mail:

“I’m a teacher at Winton Middle School and I worked with my
principal, Donald West, and other teachers this summer to
create lessons for the staff to use the first week of
school. I’ve been a teacher here for over 10 years and have
seen a huge change in the climate of the school in just the
first semester of the year.”
–Phoebe Williams


A few years ago, I had the pleasure of conducting a few
seminars in New Zealand under the sponsorship of Karen
Boyes. Karen’s company, SPECTRUM LEARNING publishes an
outstanding educational journal, “Teachers Matter,” four
times each year.

The following is from Karen’s article, “The Last Word:
Motivation and Rewards – Do Stickers, Stamps and Stars
really work?” Issue #3, 2008-2009, page 74:

Dean Wittick, head of the Division of Educational Psychology
at the University of California at Los Angeles, suggests
that today’s classroom teaching is based on a flawed theory.

For a long time, we’ve assumed that children should get an
immediate reward when they do something right,” he said.
“But the brain is much more complicated than most of our
instruction; it has many systems operating on parallel.”

The brain is perfectly satisfied to pursue novelty and
curiosity, embrace relevance, and bathe in feedback from
successes. Wittick suggests extended applications of
projects and problem solving where the process is more
important than the answer.

As teachers, our understanding of motivation has changed.
Stickers, stamps, stars, coupons and gimmicks may no longer
make sense when compared to the alternatives.

Neuroscientists have a different perspective on rewards: the
brain makes its own rewards. Called opiates, they are used
to regulate stress and pain. The reward centre is based in
the brain’s centre, and the pleasure-producing system lets
you enjoy behavior like affection, sex, entertainment,
caring or achievement. It’s a long-term survival mechanism,
as if the brain says to itself “That was good, let’s
remember it and do it again!” Students who succeed usually
feel good, and that’s reward enough for most of them.

So are external rewards also good for the brain?
Neuroscientists don’t believe so. The brain’s internal
reward system varies between students. Most teachers have
found that the same external reward can be received
completely differently by two students. How students respond
can depend on genetics, life experiences and individual
brain chemicals.

If students are unaware of the reward and receive it after
the event, it’s not a reward but a celebration. If given the
option of “Do it well; then you’ll get pizza” before the
event, then it is a reward. Research suggests that students
will want a reward each time the behavior is required;
they’ll want an increasingly valuable reward, and, in
addition, rewards provide little or no lasting pleasure. In
1989 Dr. Teresa Amabile of Harvard University documented
extensively how the use of rewards damages intrinsic


This known fact has been written about for many years but
almost completely ignored by too many principals, teachers,
and parents who insist that rewarding young people with
something tangible is necessary to motivate them or to
reinforce some behavior.

6. Discipline without Stress (DWS)


I am on the 2nd year of implementation of the hierarchy. I
am an elementary character/p.e. teacher. This is also the
first year of “total school” implementation and is going
well. I had a thought on adding another level to the
hierarchy: Level “E” for excellence–Level E being the daily
consistent habit of being in level D. Your thoughts when you
can. Thanks.


Through the years, there have been many suggestions about
the hierarchy, but in the end they all detract from the
power of using just A,B,C, and D.

Level A and Level B are unacceptable. Level C and Level D
are both acceptable. These two lower levels describe
BEHAVIORS. The two higher levels describe MOTIVATION. For
the most effective use of the HIERARCHY OF SOCIAL
DEVELOPMENT (http://marvinmarshall.com/hierarchy.htm)
refer to opening paragraph and the 8th significant point at

ask, “What level are your choosing?” when working with
youngsters. When working with older youth, to avoid a
coercive feeling, simply say, “Reflect on the level you are

Beginners with the system have a tendency to ask or have a
student reflect on the level at which the person is “ACTING”
or “BEHAVING.” Since Levels C and D refer to MOTIVATION,
rather than behavior, the action may be identical on both
levels. Some students in a class may be at Level C because
of their interest in receiving a good grade whereas others
may be doing their best because they know that doing quality
work is in their own best interests and the right thing to
do (Level D).

Since obedience (Level C) does not create desire, it is
only motivation at Level D which brings the most personal

As we live, we experience various levels. If you have
experienced great anger, chances are that you had little
concern for the effect your behavior had on others (Level
A). If you ever drove faster than the speed limit, you made
your own rules of the road (Level B). If you were courteous
and considerate of others, your motivation could have been
to do what others were doing (Level C), or your motivation
could have been to be courteous and considerate of others
because that was the right thing to do (Level D).

thinking about the hierarchy is to be continually aware of
the level one chooses. It is like sitting up straight. You
choose it, and then in a few minutes you realize that you
are slouching again. Pull in your stomach for girth control
(a conscious activity), and in a few minutes you realize
that you are no longer “pulling it in.” ONCE AN ACTIVITY
idea sounds like a good one, a “Level E” would lose the
key to empowerment that so many young people need.

Great question! Thanks for asking.

By the way, the same “awareness” is necessary for the THREE
PRACTICES: positivity, choice, and reflection. Are you aware
when your self-talk and communications to others are
negative? Are you giving options to reduce coercion? Are you
asking reflective questions such as, “What can I learn from
this experience?”

7. Testimonials/Research

Several years ago I attended one of your two-day workshops.
I then worked at the Bathurst Tutorial Centre and
implemented your approach. I have spent the last three years
working in a mainstream school and have had great success
with your program.

I can not thank you enough for validating my ideas on how to
best get through to troubled students.

Alison Griffiths
Blayney, New South Wales