Volume 7 Number 9
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:
The biggest thing was the length of time it actually took
for me to stop telling and to start asking questions. It
took me a long time to retrain myself, and I still tick
myself off for reverting back to my old ways–but it really
makes the interactions you have with children so much nicer.
Playground duty is a breeze when you ask questions rather
than tell kids what they should be doing.
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
A post at DisciplineWithoutStress@yahoogroups.com:
One of the oddest conversations I ever had with a child was
with a very bright, very disruptive 7 year old. He had a
history of misbehavior at school with lots of office time
and suspensions. At the beginning of the year I sat with him
after a minor infraction and during our conversation I
casually said something about, “Well, you know I can’t MAKE
you behave; that’s something you have to want to do for
yourself and you get to think about your behavior and what
you do here in the classroom….” Not my exact words but
something like that.
And this little boy looked at me and said, “You HAVE to make
me behave. That’s your job.”
We must have spent about 15 minutes in a conversation that
ended up centering, not on the misbehavior that had
occurred, but on the idea that he had somehow picked up from
kindergarten and first grade that it was MY job to be in
charge of his behavior. He pointed out that I should or
could use behavior charts (he knew of several) or prizes or
stickers. He had all sorts of suggestions for me of ways I
could change his behavior. It was hysterical, and he was not
very pleased initially that I was not interested in buying
into any of this stuff.
Needless to say, although it took a while, this child did
eventually figure out how to be in charge of his behavior in
our classroom. I think and hope that the lessons he learned
served him better in the future than his notion of teachers
controlling him, but boy, what an eye-opener for what we do
to kids with some of our behavior systems!
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
Some ramblings about assumptions:
ASSUMPTION is the cause of much NEGATIVITY.
Following is an example of negative emotions PROMPTED BY
Suppose your supervisor asks you to stop in the office
before leaving for the day. When I recently mentioned this
scenario at a presentation to five junior high schools last
month, I heard a great groan. Then I made the point: You
assumed that the conversation would be negative. You didn’t
know that; you just assumed it.
This negative assumption may be natural, but it’s not
inevitable. You have a choice regarding your self-talk. You
don’t have to ASSUME the situation would have been a
negative one. Just hold it in abeyance by redirecting your
thoughts. Why prompt negative feeling when it is not
necessary? As I clearly demonstrate in my presentations,
WHAT WE THINK PROMPTS HOW WE FEEL.
ASSUMPTION can be the cause of many BOTCHED SITUATIONS.
I was not able to connect to the Internet. I contacted my
Internet service provider (ISP). Rather than speaking to
someone in technical support, I found myself speaking to
someone in the accounts payable department. It appears as if
I had not paid my bill. But the telephones were still
working! I was advised that the Internet service is stopped
first before the telephones are disconnected because there
is no charge for re-establishing an Internet connection
whereas if the telephones were to be disconnected, there
would be a reconnection charge.
I couldn’t believe it! The one time in my entire life that I
received a bill of non-payment and did not follow up on it!
You guessed it; this was it. I had received a non-payment
bill from the telephone company and ASSUMED that, since my
bills are automatically charged to my credit card, there was
a mistake on the part of the phone company. BAD ASSUMPTION!
The root of the problem was that the telephone company had
an old credit card on file carrying a June 2007 expiration
date. This was August 27. Somehow the telephone company had
not been notified of my newer 2009 credit card expiration
date. I was assured that the system would be up again within
Four hours passed. My Internet connection still was not
working. Did I ASSUME it would be repaired in due course?
Nope! I called; somehow the order had not gone through. The
company reinstated the service while I waited on the phone.
But the saga continued. I received e-mail from Jacksonville,
Mississippi where I am scheduled to give a keynote
presentation. The communication stated that the party
attempted to call me but that my telephone was not in
working order. I responded by sending the party three phone
numbers that could be used to contact me.
The next morning I tried to make a phone call, but the
telephone land line was not working. I called the telephone
company using my mobile phone. My original conversation
about paying the bill and requesting the reinstatement of
all telephone lines could not be honored. But I was not so
informed. (Due to additional services on other lines, the
phone company sends me two bills). I ASSUMED that both bills
were paid. I was politely informed that, since I receive two
different bills, it was necessary to contact the accounts
payable department and pay each bill SEPARATELY–which I did
ASSUMPTION can be the cause of MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.
Last month at an inservice to 110 teachers, the principal
who introduced me gave me a beautiful opening. As she
started to introduce me, she suddenly stopped, went to the
trash barrel, spit out her gum, and reminded teachers to
have students spit out their gum as they enter classrooms.
So, one of my opening statements was that ASSUMPTION CAN BE
THE CAUSE OF MISSED OPPORTUNITIES. Example: We ASSUME that
students know how to spit out their gum WITHOUT OUR FIRST
TEACHING A PROCEDURE OF HOW TO DO IT. I suggested that
teachers consider having some scrap paper by the waste paper
basket to make it easier for students to do what teachers
want them to do–AFTER HAVING DEMONSTRATED HOW STUDENTS
SHOULD DISPOSE OF THEIR CHEWING GUM.
So many problems occur BETWEEN PEOPLE in professional AND
in personal RELATIONSHIPS due to INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS,
e.g., “I thought (read:ASSUMED) that you . . . .”
As has been so eloquently stated, “Assumption is the mother
of screw-ups.” (Read: negativity, botched situations, missed
opportunities, and poor relationships.)
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
Ready, aim, REFLECT:
Is what I am about to do or say going to improve our
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
You might have read recently that some school districts are
beginning to offer money as an INCENTIVE to students to
increase school attendance. Since the incentive of money
appeals to most people, this may appear to be a rational
CLARIFICATION REGARDING INCENTIVES, REWARDS, AND
An INCENTIVE, such as money, can be a MOTIVATOR.
Receiving money, which occurs AFTER the action, is the
It is important to remember, however, that the REWARD
TEACHERS receive can be such things as satisfaction from
the creativity of lessons and instruction, watching the
young grow and mature, and relationships with students.
The TEACHER’S REWARD IS NOT MONEY–as many teachers
assume, e.g., “I wouldn’t be working if I were not being
given a reward.” No doubt, money is an INCENTIVE for
wanting to be hired–but MONEY IS NOT THE REWARD for
teaching. Once someone is employed, a SOCIAL CONTRACT
has been created: SALARY/compensation IN EXCHANGE FOR
SERVICE. A salary is not a bribe in the same sense
that some teachers and parents use rewards to manipulate
The ASSUMPTION that adding incentives always helps is false.
There are circumstances in which adding an incentive
competes with other motives and diminishes their impact.
Psychologists have known this for more than 30 years.
In one example, nursery school children were given the
opportunity to draw with special markers. After playing,
some of the children were given “good player” awards.
Later, the markers were reintroduced to the classroom, and
researchers kept track of which children used them. The
youngsters previously given awards were less likely to draw
at all and drew worse pictures than those who were not given
Why did this happen? Children draw because drawing is fun.
The rewards for drawing are INTRINSIC TO THE ACTIVITY
The “good player” award is aimed at giving children another
reason to draw: to earn a reward. Children want recognition.
But the chance for RECOGNITION UNDERMINES THE FUN, so that
later, in the absence of a chance to earn another award, the
children are no longer interested in drawing.
The intrinsic rewards of learning aren’t working for many
young people today. It may be that the current state of
achievement is low enough that it’s worth trying anything.
Or it may be that cash will get kids started, after which
they can be weaned. But it’s plausible that when students
get paid to go to class and do well on tests, they will be
even LESS INTERESTED IN THE WORK than they would be if no
incentives were present.
THE INCENTIVES MAY MAKE THE LEARNING PROBLEM WORSE IN THE
LONG RUN–EVEN IF IT IMPROVES ACHIEVEMENT IN THE SHORT RUN.
Perhaps worse, the plan will distract us from a more
important question: What makes schools so dystopian that
they turn eager-to-learn primary students into older,
6. Discipline without Stress
The hierarchy becomes significantly more effective in
promoting responsible behavior when the focus is on THE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEVEL C (EXTERNAL MOTIVATION) AND
LEVEL D (INTERNAL MOTIVATION)–rather than focusing on the
difference between the acceptable levels and unacceptable
THE MORE YOU MAKE THIS YOUR STANDARD PRACTICE, the more
effectively the system will serve both you and your students.
I came across your book a couple of years ago. I have been
reading it and using the Raise Responsibility System for two
years in my 5th grade classroom. Although I am a veteran
teacher of 18 years, and I have not considered “discipline”
to be a major concern in my overall classroom management, I
have had a growing concern over the past several years with
lack of students’ internal motivation. It seems that society
(more and more) is sending the message that kids should get
rewarded for expected behaviors. I wholeheartedly believe in
the message and strategies used in your book with the Raise
Responsibility System and teaching kids the difference
between internal verses external motivation. Although I am a
small fish in a big pond, I have been talking to colleagues
about the Raise Responsibility System. It just makes sense
to me. I am hoping to eventually get our entire school
system to adopt this way of thinking.
Thank you for your great insight and valuable information.
5th grade Teacher
Roanoke Rapids Graded Schools District
Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina