Volume 5 Number 4
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:
How Your School Can Implement the System
Your Questions Answered
Free Mailring/User Group
Impulse Management Posters and Cards
A Comment about the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM
About the Book: DISCIPLINE Without STRESS
Last week I presented at the
National Catholic Educators Association conference in Philadelphia (March 29 –
April 1). As I was walking by one of the booths in the exhibit hall, Dr.
Patricia McCormack stopped me. We had never met, but she recognized my from the
picture on my website. She told me that she knows about the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY
SYSTEM from my website and saw the program at work in a California school.
To quote from her book,
“Student Self-Discipline in the Classroom & Beyond” (National Catholic
Educational Association, 2003):
The faculty in-serviced themselves
through discussion and
consideration of Marshall’s book. Before the program was
implemented, the teachers provided an in-service for
parents, staff members, and students.
It was necessary for us to keep in mind that a
discipline program that does not encourage good choices
by giving rewards was a concept foreign to people. It
took some time for staff and parents to become
accustomed to the idea of children making good choices
because it is the right thing to do and not because they
receive a reward, i.e., sticker, candy, movie, etc.
Dr. McCormack described an
incident she had seen at the close of a school day:
told, Robert put his chair on top of his
desk. The teacher commented, “Robert, you put your chair
up without being told. What behavior was that?” With a
look of puzzlement on his face, Robert thought for a
moment. He seemed to freeze in space. Then his eyes
widened, he slowly raised his face toward the teacher and
with a tone of astonishment he responded, “C”? His
teacher said, “Yes, Robert. That was a cooperative
behavior choice. Thank you very much.”
The next day Robert was very
active in trying to
demonstrate cooperation. Identifying positive behavior to
a child and expressing respect or appreciation tells the
child he is competent to choose and to do good. In
effect, it becomes self-motivating. (Page 13)
Coincidentally, the April,
2005, issue of “Today’s Catholic Teacher” carries Kerry Weisner’s article, “A
DISCIPLINE SYSTEM THAT PROMOTES LEARNING. The essence of the article is at
The following was written by
Evelyn Marshall at the conference of the Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development (ASCD) in Orlando, Florida on April 3 immediately
following the aforementioned conference. I had presented the morning of the
first day of this conference. This episode occurred on the second day.
A tall muscular man
approached me and quietly began,
“I bought the book yesterday, and
last night I read 120
Suddenly, his eyes and voice
took on an animation as he continued with great deliberateness,
“I’m going to give these ideas to my teachers as soon
as I get back. This is the best book on teaching that
I have ever read. I had to come over and tell you that.”
Adversity is a natural
and ongoing part of life. You have a responsibility to transform adversities
into challenges and opportunities.
In last month’s e-zine in
the section on “Promoting Responsibility,” I referred to the kaizen way. The
approach is described in the book, “One Small Step Can Change Your Life – The
Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer (New York: Workman Publishing, 2004).
The book addresses two questions:
–How do people succeed?
–How do successful people stay successful?
The answer is in continuous improvement. BUT HOW IS THIS DONE?
Since a little history helps, I first briefly explain the how the approach works
in organizations. Then I share how
Dr. Maurer describes both how and why the approach can be used on a personal
For those who have read Kerry Weisner’s and my featured cover article in the
March 2004 PHI DELTA KAPPAN, the name
of W. Edwards Deming will be familiar. (Part 1: Creating the System at
The most prestigious award in the Japanese manufacturing industry is the Deming
Award. Deming showed how to improve quality while simultaneously reducing costs.
His approach was to empower people by involving them and encouraging everyone in
the organization to suggest even the smallest change if it could lead to an
improvement. The philosophy was to involve everyone as a source for creativity.
Japan, where Dr. Deming consulted after World War II, took the concept and made
it the bedrock of their manufacturing process. The Japanese even gave it their
own name: kaizen–“kai” (referring to school) and “zen,” (referring to wisdom).
A necessary requirement of any such approach is that the environment be safe and
nonthreatening. (This same principle is essential for optimal success with the
RRSystem where students constantly perceive that the objective of the teacher is
to promote responsibility–rather than obedience by using bribes and
The kaizen approach of continual improvement by taking small steps–rather than
attempting large leaps–is a very effective and enjoyable way to achieve
personal specific goals.
There are a few reasons for the success of the approach. The steps are so small
that you cannot fail. It is highly effective in building new neural connections
in the brain and bypasses the brain’s amygdala–the storage area in the brain of
emotional arousal where the “freeze, flight, or fight” response occurs.
Beginning by taking small steps lays down the neural network for enjoying a
change. Small–really, really small–easily achievable steps are the goal. For
example, if one watched many television programs but knew that more exercise
would be beneficial, a first step would be to just stand for one minute each day
for one week while watching television. The next week, you would be tempted to
stand for two minutes each day–or perhaps run in place for 30 seconds. Such
small steps lets you tiptoe right past the amygdala, which could conjure up some
negative emotions about exercising.
As people meet with success, they have a natural inclination
to stretch themselves.
Asking questions (as used in the RRSystem) is a highly effective approach.
QUESTIONS ARE SIMPLY BETTER AT ENGAGING THE BRAIN. Commands to ourselves often
fail to engage us (as do commands to others–therefore, the noncoerciveness of
the RRSystem approach). A question is not demanding, not scary. It’s actually
fun. So when you ask small questions, the amygdala remains asleep and the
cortex–always hungry for a good time–will wake up and take notice.
Pose questions to yourself. For example, if health were my first priority, I
would ask, “In what small way can I improve my health?” “What is one way I can
remind myself to drink more water?” “How can I incorporate a few more minutes of
exercise into my daily routine?”
Build the kaizen habit of asking yourself small (and positive) questions. Asking
a new question of yourself each
day increases your effectiveness because of how the brain functions. The
hippocampus decides what information to store and what to retrieve. It’s main
criterion for change is repetition, so asking a question over and over gives the
brain little choice but to pay attention and begin to create answers.
Kaizen is a process that never ends. Its internal reward is most satisfying:
continual do-able improvement and growth.
The inexpensive, short, very easy-to-read book can be
procured at many book stores or online at
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
Assume everything you say
about another person can be overheard by that person.
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
I recently received the
following e-mail. “I found your web site from the monthly language magazine in
Taiwan.” (Kerry Weisner and my article were published in the Chinese and English
language journal, “Advanced” (January and February 2005 issues).
The teacher asked me how to motivate students to have them like memorizing
English vocabulary and grammar.
I started my response by suggesting that almost everyone acknowledges that YOU
LEARN BEST WHEN YOU TEACH ANOTHER and that learning is internalized when you
live it. Therefore, the best way to get people to learn is to turn them into
teachers because they learn the material best when they teach it. (This teaching
technique was the prime approach that Stephen Covey used as a university
Have students memorize just one word and one grammar rule per day. Use the
kaizen way: Start by taking very, very
small steps. To enhance memory, have students rehearse the vocabulary in a
sentence and the grammar rule with an example just before going to sleep and
then again first thing in the morning.
Then have students work together in pairs and each day share with a partner the
one vocabulary word and one grammar rule with the examples. This collaborative
approach is much more effective and more enjoyable than memorizing and
practicing silently to oneself.
Introduce a hierarchy of motivation for the exercise. Here is a sample for your
Level D (INTERNAL motivation to learn)
–Engages in the assignment because of the desire to learn –Understands that
with the effort comes the reward –Realizes that doing something to please
others is not nearly so satisfying as doing something for one’s own
Level C (Relies on EXTERNAL motivation to prompt effort)
–Fulfills the assignment primarily to get a good grade –Completes assignment
in order to please, impress, or not receive disapproval of parents.
–Distracts others by taking them off task
–Spends little if any effort to learn
Also read the article
Suggestions for Motivation
6. Implementing the RAISE
The BENEFITS to a school
CONDUCTING ITS OWN in-service can be seen at
Details–including differences between CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT and DISCIPLINE,
THREE PRINCIPLES to PRACTICE, the three parts of the system, and how the system
can be used to RAISE ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE–are described on the next link at
I am a 9th grade science
teacher and I recently read your book, “Discipline without Stress, Punishments
It sounds like a great approach and I would like to implement it in my
classroom, but I have four questions that I was hoping you could answer.
1. If an incident occurs in your classroom and you did not see who did it (for
example, someone throws a paper airplane), how do you handle that?
Just announce that someone is operating on level B–that no one will be
punished–that your only goal is for the person
to accept responsibility.
Ask whether the class has enough confidence in itself that whoever did it will
pick it up after everyone exits (challenge and empowerment). Get a commitment by
having students raise hands. If a student does not raise a hand, ask the
student, “Since you do not have confidence in the class, what would you
suggest?” The student will either give another suggestion or will go along with
your positive, empowering, and nonembarrassing approach.
There is no specific student
to ask, “What level is that behavior?” I could ask the entire class and get an
answer, but suppose it occurs a second time. To whom would I deliver the
Self-Diagnostic Referral? In other words, how do you handle the “sneaky”
Use the FORMS as a VERY LAST RESORT. Start with ELICITING suggestions from the
class. The keys to success of the
RRSystem are the three principles to practice and the first two parts of the
system: TEACHING and ASKING.
2. There are a few students
acting together to misbehave –for example, humming during a lesson. When the
looks up, they stop, only to do it again when the teacher’s back is turned.
Say something positive, humorous, or challenging. The first idea that popped
into my head would be to say something like, “We have the beginning of a
harmonic group, the beginnings of a barbershop quartet. If the people sitting
around the musicians would like to have them perform for the class, just call
out their names and ask them to share.”
(Remember that you should be enjoying both your students and the teaching
process. Using humor helps achieve both.)
How would this be handled?
In the past, I’ve just lectured how it is inappropriate and rude – etc. (Doesn’t
have any lasting impact.)
Lecturing is interpreted as telling and implies obedience. Keep in mind the
aphorism, “When young people HAVE TO, they don’t want to.”
3. If I ask a student “What
level of behavior is that?” and another student yells out “Yeah, John – that was
definitely ‘B!’ or ‘ANARCHY!'” (to be funny) – how do I handle that?
Use the same approach as above: positive, humorous, or challenging. Say
something that would not be too embarrassing. My first reaction would be to say,
“Seems like we have a new John in class”–referring to the student who blurted
out. With this class, however, you would be better to say, “John, take a moment
and please reflect on the behavioral level you just chose.” Then continue your
teaching. ASKING AN 8TH – 12TH GRADER TO IDENTIFY A CHOSEN LEVEL WILL OFTEN BE
PERCEIVED AS COERCIVE.
Do I now need to walk over
to the other student and ask him “What level are you acting on?” I’m concerned
they may use this to “showcase” themselves and be the class clown.
No, but depending on the student, I may comment, “Thanks for your assistance,
but you are depriving John the opportunity to become more responsible.”
4. If John calls out and I
go over and ask, “What level of behavior is that?” and he says, “B,” and I smile
and walk away then Sue calls out a minute later – do I need to walk over to Sue
now and say, “What level behavior is that?” or do I directly hand Sue a
Neither. A Self-Diagnostic Referral should be used only after a few essay forms
have been used. Remember, the
approach should be noncoercive, positive, and empowering. Even when handing an
essay or Self-Diagnostic Referral to a student, a choice is always given, e.g.,
“Do you prefer to complete the form in your seat, in the back of the room, by
yourself or would you like someone to help you?”
The reason that reading and then reviewing chapters 1 & 2 in the book are so
helpful in using the RRSystem (Chapter 3) is that you truly get an understanding
of the fundamentals of the approach. WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING THE PHILOSOPHIES
BEHIND THE SYSTEM, the RRSystem becomes a technique–rather than a system.
You can post questions and learn more about the system at
the free user group (mailring support) at:
IMPULSE MANAGEMENT POSTERS and CARDS
Learning a procedure for
responding appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link
A Comment about THE RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM
“Since your presentation, I
have already seen your ideas implemented with very positive results throughout
our K-3 school.”
Kathryn Parsons, Principal
Burchfield Primary School, Colusa, CA
ABOUT THE Book
“DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS®
PUNISHMENTS OR REWARDS
How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”
DESCRIPTIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS AND THREE SECTIONS ONLINE –
A descriptive Table of Contents, three sections (Classroom Meetings,
Collaboration for Quality Learning, and Reducing Perfectionism), plus additional
items of interest are posted
SEARCH INSIDE – You can view more parts of the book online at Amazon’s “Search