Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – July 2007

Volume 7 Number 7


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



Rules are essential in games because they are meant to
CONTROL. Rules do not inspire.

If your purpose is to control, then rely on rules. However,
if your intentions are to inspire and teach, then share your
expectations and teach procedures.


I recently added a new link to my homepage to help teachers
and parents who deal with young people with learning
disorders and neurological based behaviors. Please share the
site with others who are dealing with young people with
special needs. The posting is at



Among the recommendations by the Commission on No Child Left
Behind, a blue-ribbon panel assembled by the Aspen
Institute (a non-partisan think tank), is a call to assess
teachers “by their effectiveness in raising student
achievement.” Under the proposal a student’s achievement
would count for no less than half of a teacher’s score.

Teachers would have to remain above the bottom 25% of
teachers in their state to remain in good standing. These
teachers would have seven years to move out of the bottom
quarter. After two years, they would have to get training,
and after three, the principal would have to write a letter
notifying parents that their children’s teacher is
struggling to meet “highly qualified and effective”

Marv Marshall’s comments:

–Using standardized tests for teacher (let alone student)
evaluation is an invalid use of such instruments.

–Since parents are the first teachers, how are they to be

–Social and economic factors correlate more than any other
factors with academic achievement. The three highest
correlations are: (1) per pupil school expenditures, (2)
family income, and (3) level of parental schooling. Although
correlation does not mean cause and effect (a common
misconception), the fact remains that these factors have a
significant impact on student motivation and effort put
forth to achieve in school.

–Can you imagine a principal informing parents that their
teacher is lacking in skills? (Does the increasing turnover
of teachers in urban schools need another boost?)

Dr. John Goodlad, one of the nation’s recognized author’s
and leaders in school reform, stated at a recent conference
of Phi Delta Kappa International (http://www.pdkintl.org),
“Academic test scores do not correlate with any of the
virtues to which our democracy aspires. None!”

He continued, “Good education provides a sense of community,
personal identity, inner strength, purpose, meaning, and
belonging.” These are the same characteristics fostered in
“Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards.”

Great leaders have understood the wisdom that education
without values is not only worthless but can be
counterproductive. (One need look no further than the Nazi
regime–certainly one of the most educated societies in
engineering, science, and the arts–to understand the
necessity of teaching right from wrong.)

I look forward again to speaking to the U.S.A.’s
best-attended character education conference in St. Louis
July 19-20 (http://www.characterplus.org/page.asp?page=425)
where I can share how to promote responsibility–the
cornerstone of a democratic society. Promoting this and
other values that foster good citizenship is significantly
more important than being compared and evaluated using
standardized achievement tests.


I often come across articles about how an incompletely
developed brain accounts for the emotional problems and
irresponsible behavior of teenagers. It is true that
teenagers, by virtue of their hormonal changes, are prone
to be emotionally volatile, unpredictable, self-absorbed,
and hypersensitive. However, the IMMATURE BRAIN that
supposedly causes teen problems is nothing less than a myth.
Most of the brain changes that are observed during the teen
years lie on a continuum of changes that takes place over
much of our lives.

In addition, some of these myths are based on studies of
brain activity of teens as compared to adults. But snapshots
of brain activities have nothing to do with causation. A
person’s emotions, such as stress, continuously change brain
physiology and development–as does diet, exercise,
studying–virtually all activities, let alone cultural
influences. There is clear evidence that any unique feature
that may exist in the brains of teens is the RESULT of
social influences, rather than the CAUSE of teen turmoil.

The teen brain fits conveniently into a larger myth, namely,
that teens are inherently incompetent and irresponsible. But
teens in many cultures experience no turmoil whatsoever. I
have seen teens act in exemplary ways–as have many adults.
Perhaps one reason is that those who are successful think of
we treat teens as we treat adults, they almost immediately
rise to the challenge.

Throughout most of recorded human history the teen years
were a transition to adulthood. Teens were not trying to
break away from adults; rather, they were learning to BECOME

To read a short experience of how teenagers–with all their
hormonal changes and challenges–can still act responsibly,



Benjamin Franklin understood that the art of persuasion is
to induce the person to influence himself. He knew that
persuading others to his point of view took patience and
endurance. He assumed that people are often won over slowly,
often indirectly. He believed that if you don’t win the
bargain today, go after it again tomorrow–and the next day.

Here are some of Franklin’s strategies of persuasion and

1. Be clear in your own mind about exactly what you are

2. Do your homework so that you are fully prepared to
discuss every aspect and respond to every question and

3. Be persistent. Don’t expect to “win” the first time. The
first objective should be simply to start the other person

4. Make friends with the person with whom you are
bargaining. Put your bargain in terms of the other person’s
desires, advantages, and benefits.

5. Keep your sense of humor.


The following insight
should be in the forefront of anyone
interested in this topic:

A primary reason for communication is to reach


The quotation below is PART of my newest link referred to in
the “WELCOME” section above concerning students with special
needs. The complete section can be found at



“One of the things Marshall emphasizes in working with
students is making heavy use of positive images as concerns
personalities, capabilities, and behavior. This practice is
powerful and especially useful for teachers who work with
students with NBB (neurological-based behavior).

“Marshall maintains that body, mind, and emotions fully
intermingle and that each is understood in terms of the
others. Feelings, learning, and physical behavior all work
in conjunction and are inseparable. A change in behavior is
as much emotion based as it is cognition based–that is, it
has as much to do with feelings as with knowledge. The human
mind thinks not so much through the use of simple language
but through the heavy use of pictures, images, and visions.
One of the best ways to influence behavior for the better is
to empower students with positive images. In teaching
students to conduct themselves appropriately, we should make
use of positive images of what responsible people do, as
opposed to images of punishment for irresponsible behavior.”

–“Using Special Discipline Tactics to Help Students with
Neurological-Based Behavior” (Chapter 10) in “TODAY’S BEST
copyright 2008, page 164.

6. Discipline without Stress

QUESTIONS and RESPONSES to a recent e-mail.

Dear Dr. Marshall,

I have been using Discipline with Stress techniques for the
past 3 years. I teach mostly gifted middle school students
in a suburban area. I especially like the way these students
have responded to your system because they understand Level
D. This opens a whole new arena for them to become more
internally motivated. Most of them are very compliant and
are surprised to learn that they could do even better.
Through weekly reflection journals, which include both what
I have learned and how my behavior has improved, I have seen

Next year, I have been assigned to teach the lowest level
students. I want to continue using your system but I don’t
understand the finer distinctions between discipline,
behavior, rewards and the work ethic. As an acclaimed
twenty-eight year veteran teacher, I know how to teach and
to get students to do their work in class. I can get my
students to work and by the end of year they all are
studying and learning (including my class of regular
students). But after some thought here are my questions:


QUESTION 1: When students do their work and get good grades,
isn’t the grade a reward?

Yes and there is nothing wrong with this reward. Neither is
anything wrong with rewards as acknowledgments. What I
object to is giving rewards for expected, appropriate
behavior. Grades are an incentive and they work to motivate
only if the person is interested in a good grade. Many
students are. But some could care less about the grade given
them by a teacher. See http://www.aboutdiscipline.com/

QUESTION 2: When I go to work each day, I receive a
paycheck, isn’t that a reward?

Your paycheck is compensation. Compensation is a contractual
agreement between two parties. It is not a reward in the
sense of manipulating or bribing a young person to do

QUESTION 3: At the beginning of the year, I use points to
help students quickly learn my management system, the team
with the most points gets to leave first, is this a reward?

Yes, and there is nothing the matter with this. The teams
are competing–a very successful approach to improve
PERFORMANCE. Unfortunately, this is often confused with
improving LEARNING. For example, if a student never feels in
the winner’s circle, do you think that young person will
continue to compete, or will the desire be to drop out and
preserve whatever self-esteem the young person still has?

Please understand that I am in no way against all
competition. But if the goal is to improve learning, I am
suggesting that there is a better approach that will save
you time, effort, and not create a WIN-LOSE SITUATION
(something endemic to competition). I refer to sharing your
expectations and teaching procedures. This approach builds a
collaborative community–something competition can not do.


QUESTION 1: I generally have few major behavior problems
because I set high expectations and I keep students busy,
but I do have problems with talking. Is talking a Level B
behavior problem?

Only if your students are talking when they shouldn’t be. In
such cases, I would teach a psychological lesson and develop
a procedure such as illustrated at
the student will remain a victim of the talking impulse.

QUESTION 2: How about doing their homework? Doing their best

Homework is an instructional problem, not a discipline
problem. You can no more force students to do their homework
with quality work than you can force them to learn. However,
you can help direct success in this area by painting
pictures, e.g., “What time will you start your homework?”
“What procedure will you implement if the time has arrived
and you are enjoying yourself doing something else?” “Where
will you do your homework?” “Will the TV be on?” It is the
pictures in our minds which drives our behavior.

QUESTION 3: If students behave in my class and misbehave in
another class or outside, is this my responsibility and have
I taught them discipline?

A person’s behavior is that person’s responsibility and choice.


QUESTION 1: For the most part, my gifted students have a
good work ethic which allows them to do well in school. Is
your system of promoting responsibility connected to work
ethic or just behaviors of following the rules?

First, as indicated in the quote at the beginning of this
e-zine, rules are meant to control, not inspire. I became a
teacher for the latter–not the former. Second, I refer to
character education on seven pages in my book. The
foundational principle of any character education or work
ethic is responsibility. Without it, nothing else stands.

QUESTION 2:Does your system work well with secondary

The teaching model works with anyone, of any age, in any
learning situation. See the middle and high school
testimonials at

I hope you understand that I am in no way being negative. I
have given this much thought and realize that I don’t truly
understand what your and my ultimate goal is.

My goal is to (1) reduce teacher stress during a
misbehavior, (2) view a disruption as a student’s best
attempt to solve a frustration or react to an impulse and
that the most important of my tasks is to help the student
help herself, (3) have students WANT to behave responsibly
and WANT to put forth effort to learn, (4) have teachers
enjoy teaching, and (5) have students reap the satisfaction
of their learning. How I do this is outlined at

I need to understand this before I tackle two classes of low
level math students, whom I can predict will have
self-discipline problems, lack of parental support, and
learning issues as well as social problems. I feel qualified
to handle the learning issues but experience has told me
that this is not enough. I need to have an understanding of
which area to work on first to bring the other areas along.

Work on classroom management first. Assume your students
KNOW NOTHING. Teach, practice, and periodically reinforce
everything you want them to do AND HOW TO DO IT. After that,
keep in mind to individualize as much as you can. Spend a
few minutes with each student periodically tutoring at the
student’s desk. Emphasize and compliment them whenever
possible. BUILD ON THEIR STRENGTHS before correction.

You will truly enjoy working with below average skill
students if you develop positive relationships with them.
How they FEEL about you is critical. You are a salesperson.
You sell information and skills. If the customer has
negative feelings about the salesperson, the “sale” is
doomed. Using the three principles (communicating in
positive and encouraging terms, offering choices–even of
some assignments, and using reflective questions (e.g., If
you could not fail, what would you do?) will naturally
improve relationships. More is available in the book about
how to motivate students.

7. Testimonials/Research

Dear Dr. Marshall,

I am the principal at Winter Park Elementary in Wilmington,
North Carolina. Four years ago I was looking for a structure
or paradigm of some sort to help explain to parents and
community members our lack of “behavior programs” and
reliance on intrinsic motivation to manage our student body.
I came across an article written by you about “Raising
Responsibility” and I was thrilled. The researchers and
education experts you cited were the same people we read
about and discussed 11 years ago when we began our school.
“Raising Responsibility” seemed just what we needed.

First, the entire staff read your article; then a small
group met to discuss how to make “The Raise Responsibility
System” work for us. We created a visual poster, wrote a
parent-friendly version for distribution, and renamed our
structure, “Action Zones.” Everyday we talk about being IN
ONE IS LOOKING (caps added). All of our character traits
align perfectly with this structure as well.

I am delighted to let you know our “Action Zones” has been
selected as a “promising character education practice” by
the Character Education Partnership (CEP). We were selected
from 206 applications across the U.S. and other countries.
Our application included mention of your work as our
structure and how we adapted the “Raise Responsibility”

I will be purchasing your book, “Discipline w/o Stress,
Punishments or Rewards” for the entire staff as a book study
for the coming school year. I have completed reading it and
think every school administrator should read it!

Thank you for your inspiration and wonderful work.

Lynn W. Fulton
Winter Park Elementary