Volume 8 Number 5
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:
If you ride a horse, sit close and tight.
If you ride a man, sit easy and light.
NEXT SEASON ON “SURVIVOR”
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
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
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
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
A communication to me indicated that it would
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:
GUEST TEACHER INFORMATION
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
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.
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
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!
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
“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.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
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
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.