Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – October 2007

Volume 7 Number 10


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



I have been using your book as my teacher education pedagogy
text for the past three years. I am getting better each year
at teaching my student teachers how to teach the system so
that children can internalize the concepts. There are a
couple of former student teachers (now in their 3rd year of
teaching–one at 1st grade level, one at 6th) who let us
visit their classrooms to see the model in action. This is
extremely powerful.

My approach to “discipline” and “classroom management”
philosophically matches yours and is one that I have
espoused for the past 20 years that I have been a teacher,
first as an elementary teacher, now at the university. It
had been more difficult to teach my course before your book
came to my attention, but now the student teachers can see
that your ideas, strategies and practices make sense and
provide results. As the student teachers get their
credentials and begin their teaching careers without using
rewards and punishments, I am hopeful that we will have an
exponential effect of also having more classrooms in which
to place new student teachers so that the theory and
practice are paired. The student teachers’ conviction and
enthusiasm to the approach have also influenced some of our
current cooperating teachers to buy your book.

Thank you for your work, and I look forward to getting your


Joy L. Pelton
Folsom/Cordova Center Coordinator
Department of Teacher Education
California State University, Sacramento.


I recently attended a seminar where a speaker convinced me
that I could “spread the word” to more people if I were to
have a web log (blog). I acted on the advice.

The blog can be found at

The site is referred to as “for smart people” because this
type of person understands that no one can coerce another
person into changing one’s mind and that the most effective
approach for changing behavior is to induce the person to
influence himself.

The welcome page states that “Discipline for Smart People”
has two fundamental characteristics. The first is that the
stress, oftentimes associated with discipline, is
significantly reduced. The second is that external
manipulators, such as rewards for appropriate behavior, are
not used because they are counterproductive to promoting
responsibility. Similarly, threats and punishments are not
imposed. Punishments, be they referred to as “logical” or
“natural,” are based on the theory that the person needs to
be harmed to be taught, to be hurt in order to learn. Most
people would prefer not to punish someone they care about,
but they simply do not know how to discipline without the
use of punishments. The site shows how to promote
responsible behavior by using 21st century approaches
espoused by such authorities as Stephen Covey, W. Edwards
Deming, and William Glasser.

I hope you will enjoy the blog and will share it with



The September 2007 issue of the Executive Briefing from
Audio Education On-Line featured part of one of my
presentations. Admission to the contents of their website is
by membership only, and most subscribers are superintendents
and higher level executives. Each month subscribers receive
a CD pertaining to articles and sources of interest to
educational leaders. 


Dr. Jim Sutton, my long-time friend and
authority on the difficult, defiant, and noncompliant
student and I will be conducting back-to-back workshops this
month on October 29 and 30 in Omaha, Nebraska. The seminars
are sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Information is available at http://conferences.unl.edu/


I would appreciate anyone’s explaining, let alone
justifying, the following two communications to me: (The
parent has given me permission to share them.)


Dear Dr. Marshall,

I am a mother and just love your concepts.

I wanted to share something my son’s teacher did. My son was
getting straight A’s in his gifted and talented class. He
had to serve detention for the teacher because he had
forgotten to get my signature on three tests–all A grades.
I think they were all 100% tests over a period of four
months. That’s the punishment children get after they get
three “Oops” notices.

He is a straight “A” principal’s honor roll student and was
humiliated that he had to serve detention for not getting a
signature, the point of which was to communicate with his
parents about his grade. He’s very shy and sensitive and

Something is very wrong with that detention.

Feel free to tell others about it. Although I’m sure you
have a million examples, this seems particularly egregious.

(Name allowed to be used but withheld by this author)


Dr. Marshall,

The teacher who loves to give “Oops” notes is back this year
as my son’s talented and gifted teacher. “Oops” notes are
given out when a child misbehaves or does not have his
homework. The notes show a slumped stick figure whose head
hangs in shame and must be signed by the parents.

Yesterday, the 8th day of school, my son, who is mostly a
straight “A” student, asked me to sign his Oops note for
not having a quote written down on paper.

My son said the assignment, as he remembers it, was simply:
“Bring a quote about achievement to class and be prepared to
share it with the class.”

So on the appointed day, student after student went to the
front of the room and read their quote from a piece of
paper. When it was my son’s turn, he walked up without a
paper because he knew the quote by heart and recited:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

The teacher said, “Where’s your paper?”

My son said, “I don’t need a paper. I already know the

The teacher said, “Go over to my desk and get an Oops note.”
The teacher said this while he was still in the front of the
class. The teacher knows he is shy and easily embarrassed
because she had him last year.

He felt embarrassed and humiliated and went to get the note,
which he brought over to the teacher, then waited while the
teacher filled it out and handed it to him.

He sat back down at his desk while his friend next to him
hurriedly wrote out his memorized quote, less he face the
same punishment.

The note is sitting here on my desk, waiting for my

What was the point of the activity? I assume to expose them
to ideas about achievement and help encourage them in their
advanced math.

What was he punished for? Being able to recite a quote from
memory? Being familiar enough with sayings and quotations
that he would already have known a quote about achievement?

It seems he was punished for being too smart. Was he
encouraged? Just the opposite; he felt discouraged and

And, by the way, these quotation papers were not turned in
to the teacher.

I can’t get over the mentality of a teacher who would do
this to a child and the absolute end-means inversion of the

What was the teacher thinking?

An extremely frustrated mother.


MM’s Comment: As I explained above in the welcome to my
blog, punishments are based on the theory that someone has
to be harmed to be taught, to be hurt in order to learn.

Many teachers (parents and leaders) actually believe this.
In the process of using such approaches that demean others,
the person so acting decreases one’s own effectiveness,
damages one’s own relationships, promotes resentment,
decreases the other person’s desire to put forth effort, and
does damage to everyone involved. This is especially the
case with young people.

It is my hope that sharing experiences like these will help
bring adults who work with youth into the 21st century.


Acknowledging Appropriate and Acceptable Behavior (Level C
and D) by Kerry Weisner

Reflection and self-evaluation are key attributes of the
Raise Responsibility System.  By
referring to the Hierarchy, adults can encourage reflection
on the higher, desirable levels. After explaining/teaching
the Hierarchy, the procedure is for the adult to ask the
young person to identify the chosen level.

It is unnecessary and even counterproductive to attempt to
evaluate the motivation levels of C (external) or D
(internal). However, it can be very empowering for young
people themselves to assess their own level in various
situations. By becoming consciously aware of the powerful
inner feelings of satisfaction arising from Level D, young
people often feel a desire to aim for this higher level
again. This should be encouraged; yet, effective
acknowledgment of Level D requires some further insight.

By definition, Level D refers to motivation that is
prompted by taking the initiative to do what is
right–regardless of external factors. In other words, the
MOTIVATION at this level is a desire to do the right thing
simply because it is the right thing to do without any
intention to impress or please another or to avoid some type
of punishment.

When parents, teachers, and other adults witness such
behavior, they are so moved that they often want to
reinforce it. The intention is admirable because the young
person may not consciously be aware of the decision to act
from this highest level. How is this accomplished? How does
an adult encourage repetition of such admirable motivation?
The answer is by the adult’s own modeling of reflection.
This can be as simple as the adult saying, “I wonder what
level that was on?” Without an understanding of this
important point, adults may revert to external approaches
by giving praise and rewards that promote external
motivation–Level C, rather than Level D.

The point to remember here is that external rewards
change motivation. Research studies consistently show that
if Level D behavior is repeatedly reinforced with Level
C-type recognition, there is a greater likelihood that in
the future the child’s motivation level will actually drop
to that of Level C. For example, studies show that children
rewarded or praised for demonstrating caring and kind
behavior will actually exhibit less genuine caring and
kindness in the future, which of course is not what the
well-meaning adults intended at all. Therefore, in order to
effectively reinforce Level D motivation, the adult should
simply prompt the child to reflect on his or her level–thus
bringing attention to it. As mentioned above, the adult
begins by prompting reflection, but instead of waiting for a
response or engaging in further conversation, the adult
simply asks the rhetorical question, “I wonder what level
that was on?” or catches the child’s eye, smiles, and walks
away. This leaves the youngster to reflect on the highest
level and experience the positive and powerful feelings
inherently associated with Level D motivation.

At first, merely modeling reflective questioning doesn’t
seem like enough for many people who are accustomed to
reinforcing desirable behavior by external manipulatives
through praise and rewarding. New approaches often feel odd
and uncomfortable at first. Yet, people who truly want to
encourage more consistent higher level motivation and
resulting behavior will take a leap of faith. They will
start by reflecting on their goal (Level C–obtaining
obedience or level D–promoting responsibility). They will
model their own behavior accordingly and will prompt those
they are trying to influence by asking reflective questions
for further self-evaluation.



Therefore, thinking of OTHER PEOPLE’S ATTRIBUTES is a
win-win approach.


Kids who can control their impulses do better in school.

Most people believe that intelligence plays the key role in
children’s academic achievement. A recent study by
Pennsylvania State University researchers, however, found
that the ability to self-regulate–to pay attention to a
task and inhibit impulse behavior–was more important than
intelligence for early academic success.

The study focused on three-to-five-year-olds and showed that
preschoolers’ capacity for self-control was the best
predictor of their performance in math and reading in
kindergarten. Scores on intelligence tests were not as
closely correlated with academic achievement.

A child’s ability to monitor his or her thinking and
behavior develops rapidly during preschool. The data gives
concrete support to preschool programs that focus more
directly on self-regulation to decrease impulsiveness and
instant gratification and that promote attention and
awareness of one’s own and others’ thoughts and feelings.

Parents interested in boosting their kids’ school readiness
should engage them in activities that involve taking turns
and paying attention for sustained periods in order to
prompt thoughtful responses.

6. Discipline without Stress

The following is from a post at  the mailring 
by Kerry Weisner


I’ve been using DISCIPLINE without STRESS for a few months
now and my students seem to understand about the four levels
of behavior. Generally their behavior is acceptable, but
they aren’t operating on Level D all the time yet. What can
I do about this?

MM’s: NOTE: The Marvin Marshall Hierarchy describes four
levels of SOCIAL (and personal) DEVELOPMENT–not behaviors.
Although difference between levels A and B can clearly be
observed, the difference between level C and D is in the
MOTIVATION, which cannot be observed. The behaviors can be
identical on both of these levels. Although Level D is the
goal for young people who are under great peer influence, no
one can be motivated on Level D all the time. If you drive
over the speed limit, you are making your own standards
(Level B). If you follow the speed limit, you are on Level
C. Level C motivation is essential for both a classroom and
a civilized society.

Surprising as it might seem, having all students operate on
Level D is not the goal for the teacher in this discipline
system. Rather, the teacher’s goal is to have the motivation
at least on Level C so that a civil and productive learning
environment is created in the classroom. Level C is the goal
for the teacher, not Level D.

Some students will certainly CHOOSE to set their sights
higher (Level D), and of course this is what we hope, but it
is not something over which we have direct control. We
cannot force any student to operate at a higher level, but
by implementing the approach and introducing young people to
the Hierarchy, we can encourage and inspire young people to
WANT to act at the highest level, which is reflected in a
desire to be SELF-motivated. BY DEFINITION, LEVEL D

It’s worth noting, too, that we can never judge another
person’s motivation with complete accuracy. Within a
classroom–where all the students look as if they are doing
the same thing–perhaps quietly and cooperatively completing
their assignments, some will be operating on Level C and
some will be operating on Level D. The teacher may have
guesses about the motivation level of each student but they
are only guesses.

A person’s motivation can be accurately determined ONLY by
the person him/herself. That is why it is important that
teachers ask questions to promote self-reflection in
students. With this discipline approach, we are not TELLING
the student what WE think of their actions and their
motivations. Ideally, we are striving to help them evaluate
what THEY think about their own actions and motivations.

The more attention given to concretely providing specific
examples of Level D and discussing the benefits of acting on
this level, the more likely that young people will be
motivated to aspire to this level.

This is one way in which teachers can influence young
people. Paradoxically, WHEN SOMETHING IS OFFERED AS A

Using the Hierarchy, we can actually show students what it
is they need to do in order to be operating at the highest
level of social/personal development. In fact, this is the
ONLY discipline system I have ever seen that provides such
information to students.

Within an environment of positivity, and with a conscious
effort on the part of the teacher to find meaningful and
frequent opportunities to discuss the Hierarchy, you will
find that many students will CHOOSE to take advantage of
that information on a more regular basis.

7. Testimonials/Research

This is from a post at

I used the Raise responsibility System (RRS) from the
teaching model in kindergarten and first grade. There is
just no better time to teach responsibility and control.
There will be lots of mistakes and some backsliding and a
few that don’t seem to get it, as there is with any learning
but it is one of the best things I have ever found. I have
had 3 children in the last 3 years (all girls!) that were
“off the charts behavior-wise” but didn’t “qualify” for
extra help, and I believe RRS kept me sane.

It may not have helped them the years I taught them, just
because they couldn’t be responsible in a social way, BUT it
sure helped the other students and kept stability in the
classroom that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

RRS is also a wonderful gift to parents who are “looking for
something” but don’t know what to do. I guess the best
advice I have is to tell you to not feel as if the RRS
system has obstacles to overcome so you can use it. Instead
think of it as something that will grow with you and you can
tweak so it will work for you.