Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – April 2005

Volume 5 Number 4


 1. Welcome

 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



 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.

(Page 12)

Dr. McCormack described an

incident she had seen at the close of a school day:

Without being

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.


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



Assume everything you say

about another person can be overheard by that person.


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

personal growth.

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.

Levels A/B

–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

or Rewards.”

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

seem to

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




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

Self-Diagnostic Referral?


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:



Learning a procedure for

responding appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link




“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




How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”


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

Inside” at