Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – May 2008

Volume 8 Number 5


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



If you ride a horse, sit close and tight.

If you ride a man, sit easy and light.

–Ben Franklin



Work and learning both require effort. However, they are so

different that I devoted the epilogue in my book

(http://www.disciplinewithoutstress.com) to the differences

between “work” in employment and “work” in learning. The

differences are so apparent to me that the only time I use

the word “work”–as in “homeWORK”–is in the index.

With this in mind, enjoy the following e-mail I received.

Have you heard about the next planned “Survivor” show? Three

businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in an

elementary school classroom for 6 weeks.

Each business person will be provided with a copy of his/her

school district’s curriculum and a class of 28 students.

Each class will have five learning-disabled children, three

with A.D.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited

English. Three will have severe behavior problems.

Each business person must complete lesson plans at least 3

days in advance with annotations for curriculum objectives,

and modify, organize, or create materials accordingly.

They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct,

implement technology, document attendance, write referrals,

correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades,

complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with

parents, and arrange and attend parent conferences.

They must also supervise recess and monitor the hallways.

They must attend workshops (180 hours), faculty meetings,

and curriculum development meetings. They must also tutor

those students who are behind and strive to get their two

non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the

standardized tests.

If sick or having a bad day, they must not let it show.

Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math,

science, and social studies into the program. They must

maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating

environment at all times. The business people will only have

access to the golf course on the weekends, but on their new

salary they will not be able to afford it anyway. There will

be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch,

and lunch will be limited to 30 minutes. On days when they

do not have recess duty, the business people will be

permitted to use the staff restroom as long as another

survival candidate is supervising their class.

They will be provided with two 40-minute planning periods

per week while their students are at special events.

If the copier is operable (varies), they may make copies of

necessary materials at this time. They cannot surpass their

daily limit. They also must continually advance their

education on their own time at their own expense.

The winner will be allowed to return to his or her

non-education job.


Discipline Without Stress, Inc., a nonprofit public

charitable organization, has awarded free books and In-House

Staff Development packages to its first two schools: a high

school in the Bronx, New York, New York and a junior high

school in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Any public K – 12 school in a low economic area is eligible

to receive free books described at


and the free In-House Staff Development package described at


Application information is at



A communication to me indicated that it would
be difficult

to have a substitute fully understand the system if the

teacher hadn’t actually read the book.

I responded that a substitute teacher did not need to know

the system at all. Also, I use the term “guest teacher”

because of the influence it has on students. When I was an

elementary school principal, as soon as the day started I

was in the “substitute teacher’s” classroom and introduced

the substitute by announcing that we had a guest teacher

that day and that I knew the students would treat the

teacher accordingly. Expectations for responsible student

behavior were established immediately.

As a teacher, I had the following one-page at the top of my

substitute teacher handbook:


Read to Each Class at the START of the Period:

This class understands levels of development. It is the

basis of discipline in this classroom. A guest teacher need

not be versed in the system to use it.

It is the responsibility of the class members to maintain

their own discipline. Students know that they choose their

own level of behavior.

If students behave and do the given assignment, they are on

Level C or Level D and should not present a problem.

Level B students are the ones who defy your authority, act

inappropriately, or are not good hosts to the guest in the

classroom today. My students know that they alone choose

their level of behavior and that they will accept the

responsibility for their choices.

Please leave me a list of the level B students so they can

carry out the assignment that goes along with their choice

of behavior.


Upon my return, I had an individual conversation with each

student on the list and ELICITED a CONSEQUENCE to help the

student remember and would also ELICIT a PROCEDURE to

redirect future impulsive behaviors.


Jim Cathcart, the author of the wonderful book, “The Acorn

Principle,” shares his idea about using “tag” questions.

A tag question is simply a question offered quickly and

nonchalantly at the end of a statement or observation that

encourages review of the previous communication. When using

tag questions, you make a statement, then leave it up to the

person you are talking with to think about.

Tag questions in particular give teachers and parents a tool

to help a young person review what has been said or done.

They prompt an opportunity to have the young person

reflect–without requiring an accounting to the adult.

Here are some examples of tag questions:

So you think that will help the situation, do you?

You meant that you can go to your friend’s house when you

finished your homework, didn’t you?

That’s quite an achievement, isn’t it?

You didn’t really mean that, did you?

Do you really think that will get you what you want?

No reply needed!


“You are never fully dressed without a smile,” sang

Orphan Annie in the Broadway musical. It turns out Annie may

have been giving some shrewd advice.

Studies have repeatedly shown that people remember smiling

faces better than neutral ones. Now researchers at Duke

University have found a physical explanation for the


Robert Cabeza and his colleagues “introduced” volunteers to

a number of people by showing them a picture and telling

them a name. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the

investigators found that both learning and recalling the

names associates with smiling faces preferentially activated

the orbitofrontal cortex, a processing area of the brain.

Although the studies are preliminary, it makes evolutionary

sense that a smile would engender positive feelings. Smile

at a baby, and the infant smiles back. Our brains are very

sensitive to positive social signals.


An interesting interview with me about where we are going is

online. Although the questions and my responses are too long

to reproduce in this e-zine, you will find them of interest.

The interview can be read at


6. Discipline without Stress

I received the following excerpt from a doctoral

dissertation and reproduce it with the author’s permission:

“As you can tell from the dissertation excerpts I sent you,

I have thoroughly researched your approach to discipline, as

well as countless others. Unfortunately, the many other more

traditional approaches have failed us as educators. I spent

the past nine years in administration trying to make a

difference in public education.

“But more importantly, I wanted to impact the course of

public education positively. Catching kids doing something

good and then reinforcing those acts by positive rewards is

a component of Positive Behavioral Interventions and

Supports (PBIS) that I experienced firsthand. As a matter of

fact, I was delighted to spend my first two years in

administration implementing a Positive Behavior Support

(PBS) model in a PA school district that was designated as

one of only three districts in the state to field such a

model with grant money for that specific purpose. I soon

realized that any system of external manipulation or

extrinsic positive rewards in a school utilizing the PBS

model becomes outdated and ineffective. I discovered how

some of the rewards can become negatives.

“Research certainly indicates that rewards or extrinsic

motivations (as I write on page 73 of my dissertation–

using “A’s,” praise, and other rewards) were ineffective

over an extended period of time. These methods were

counterproductive to the desired educational goals. Change

should come from internal motivation. No artificial

incentive can match the power of intrinsic motivation. It

matters not how motivated someone is, but how someone is


–from a dissertation presented to the faculty of the School

of Human Services Professions, Widener University, in

partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree

Doctor of Education by Joseph F. Cortese, February, 2008

7. Testimonials/Research


I’m a retired electrical engineer. I recently began working

as a substitute teacher handling any subject from grade 3 up

through grade 12.

The biggest challenge is to keep the noise level down and

the smart alecks from disrupting the class. Things have sure

changed since I went to school!

So I have approached the challenge by being strict. Smart

alecks, mainly 12-year-old boys, end up standing facing the

wall until they apologize for disrupting the class. I knew

there had to be a better way so I spent some time in the

local library and discovered your book. I am going to teach

6th grade tomorrow and I plan to implement your suggestions

in Chapter 3, “Raising Responsibility.”

I like your web site and plan to buy the posters and your

book. You are doing a great service to mankind by helping

teachers help this generation of kids learn self-control.


C. ‘Rick’ Rickard Morgan Hill, CA.