Volume 4 Number 12
IN THIS ISSUE:
2. Promoting Responsibility
3. Increasing Effectiveness
4. Improving Relationships
5. Promoting Learning
6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:
Your Questions Answered
Impulse Management Posters and Cards
What People Say About THE RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM
A mother passing by her
daughter’s bedroom was astonished to see the bed was nicely made and everything
was picked up. Then she saw an envelope propped up prominently on the center of
the bed. It was addressed, “Mom.” With the worst premonition, she opened the
envelope and read the letter with trembling hands:
It is with great regret and sorrow that I’m writing you. I had to elope with my
new boyfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Dad and you. I’ve been
finding real passion with John and he is so nice even with all his piercing,
tattoos, beard, and his motorcycle clothes. But it’s not only the passion, Mom.
I’m pregnant and John says that we will be very happy. He already owns a trailer
in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. He wants to have
many more children with me and that’s now one of my dreams, too.
John taught me that marijuana doesn’t really hurt anyone, and we’ll be growing
it for us and trading it with his friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy we
want. In the meantime, we’ll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so John
can get better; he sure deserves it!
Don’t worry, Mom; I’m 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself.
Some day I’m sure we’ll be back to visit so you can get to know your
P.S.: Mom, none of the above is true. I’m over at Monica’s house. I just wanted
to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card, which is
in my desk drawer. I love you! Call when it is safe for me to come home.
+ + + + HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MAY THE SEASON BE JOYOUS! +
+ + +.
2. PROMOTING RESPONSIBILITY
As I focus on this fleeting
year, I have tried to keep and balance my responsibilities. They fall into five
Family – immediate and far-reaching
Finance – and contributory fulfillment
Fitness – physical and psychological
Faith – religious, and optimism in resolving failings
Friends – to feed and find anew
I hope to have been successful and to be even more so in the coming year..
3. INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS
There are emotional
challenges that all of us have. One of them pertains to worrying about the
future. Worry is fear of the unknown. It is negative self-talk. If you reflect
on the things that you have worried about, you will conclude that they rarely
occurred in reality.
As with worry, some people live with past failures, with past hurts, and thereby
bring past negative emotions into the present.
One of the keys to happiness is to practice thinking in the present–rather than
dwelling on the worry of the future or negativity of the past.
Controlling our thoughts to stay in the present by redirecting negative thoughts
into positive ones is a habit which can be developed.
I think of a short sentence and a reflective question which help me move from
future worry or past negativity to “present thinking.”
“Future worry and negative memory are my creations.”
The reflective question:
“What else can I think about?”
4. IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS
I have heard it said that
the three most powerful words are, “I am sorry.”
Far more powerful are the words, “I love you” or “Please forgive me..
5. PROMOTING LEARNING
How do you encourage kids to
I feel like I’m constantly chasing after students to do it.
I find that it’s a reflection of my teaching that they’re
not putting effort into it.
In order to differentiate
between EFFORT in EMPLOYMENT and
EFFORT in LEARNING, I avoid the use of the word, “work.”
Rather than referring to homeWORK, I refer to home
The only reflection on your teaching should be to ask
yourself whether or not the assignments are relevant,
meaningful, and/or useful.
Following are some suggestions:
1. Give choices – Give more than one option for the
assignments and have students choose their preference.
2. Explain that there is not enough time to cover everything
in class. Also, as it takes practice to learn any skill it
also takes practice to reinforce learning. Inform students
that the brain retains little unless there is reinforcement,
much the same way that a person improves skills only with
practice. Emphasize that home assignments are given to help
the students become more successful–that the assingments
are in their best interests, not yours.
3. Have a classroom meeting. Put on the table that the class
is a learning community and everyone needs to participate in
order for the class to be successful. Ask the students to
suggest ideas of how to help students who are not helping
4. Many of these students have little encouragement and
little structure at home. Help students establish procedures
for doing assignments, e.g., regular time and place each
5. Relationships can be critical. Empower by positive
comments, such as, “I know what you are cable of doing.”
Some students need to believe in someone else’s belief in
them before their belief in themselves kicks in. In such
situations aiming at level C is fine, e.g., “Don’t
disappoint me. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have
FROM A POST at the RRSystem
After fuming last night and deciding I would throw extra
homework at them and demand it back the next day and if not,
they’d be in at play time, I took many deep breaths and took
a different approach.
I started math class with a fun, interactive group activity.
Then, I brought us all together and asked why we have
homework. The kids generated a great list–about exercising
our brains, reviewing what they’ve learned, becoming more
independent to do work without the teacher’s help, and to
challenge themselves. I was really impressed!
Then, I put a copy of some exceptional homework, completed
by one of the kids in the class, on the overhead projector.
I asked the class what they noticed about it and we talked
about how this one pupil went above and beyond–how neat it
was and so clearly labelled, how he showed his work and
explained his answers. Then, instead of giving them extra
homework, I gave them a homework assignment to complete
right there in class in their HW books. That gave me a
chance to walk around and encourage them and make
suggestions about using rulers, labels, etc. We ended the
lesson with all of them having a model for what an
exceptional piece of work should look like for homework.
They have now hopefully internalized exactly what I expect
of them. I must say, I NEVER would have taken this positive
approach prior to the RRSystem, so thank you to all of you
for your constant thoughts and ideas.
Year 6 (grade 5) teacher, UK
FROM A PERSONAL
(For those who missed this posting of last month):
I have a student who doesn’t do his homework and who
struggles in the class. Last year he would have had several
detentions from me and a failing grade. I would have forced
him to come in to do his homework and we would have been in
a power struggle.
This year I purchased several school supplies for him and
have always had a kind word for him. I recently found out he
is actually homeless and that he and his dad are living in a
cheap motel. Recently he has started spending his break time
in my class, by his own choosing, doing his math homework.
He also drew me some pictures on binder paper that he wanted
me to have. It breaks my heart to think of all the
opportunities I have missed for this type of relationship
6. Implementing the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM
How do we reduce noise
levels–especially in the hallways and in the cafeteria?
(This section was written on the way home from a follow-up presentation in
Vestavia Hills, Alabama. The first thing one notices upon entering the school is
a large banner that reads,
“The first thing we are going to do is an awful lot of believing in ourselves.”
I had the pleasure of first presenting a seminar to the staff of this 4th and
5th grade school in July. This second session on December 2 had a half-hour
introductory meeting with the entire staff, small meetings with groups
of teachers during the day, a faculty review at the end of the day, and then a
parent meeting in the afternoon.
NOTE: The discussion is included here because the response, like the RRSystem,
starts with teaching a hierarchy.
The school had previously sent me a list of concerns. Reducing noise levels was
on the top of their list.)
-In conjunction with a series of
posts at the RRSystem Mailring:
1) When I taught this (hierarchy below) to the children, I asked them what they
knew about using different voices. I told them I was thinking of giving numbers
to noise levels and wrote the level numbers on the board. I then asked them what
they thought each level might sound like, starting with zero. THEY PROVIDED THE
DEFINITIONS AND EXAMPLES OF HOW EACH LEVEL SOUNDS.
Level zero – Silence
Level 1 – Whispering
(Only the person you are
whispering to should hear you.)
Level 2 – Speaking voice
(The one you use when having
Level 3 – Group voice
(The voice you use when
giving a report to a group.
This is the voice I use when teaching.)
Level 4 – Playground voice
(The voice you use when you
are playing games
or shouting to your friends)
Level 5 – SCREAMING
(This voice is what you use
when you are hurt or in danger. The only time you might use this voice when you
are not in danger is when you are cheering for a sports team.)
2) Kids don’t really know how to control their voices very well and need specific
instruction on how and why to do so, as well as a way to remember. I have been
telling them that when they are sitting at their table group that they should
have “Table Group” voices. That means that only someone at their table group
needs to and should hear their voice. If someone at the next table hears them or
if I hear them, then it’s too loud. Yesterday, I added “Partner voice.” They
were doing an activity in pairs and I explained that their partner was the only
one who needed to hear them. We talked about sitting close to their partner and
making sure that he/she was the only one to hear. IF WE MAKE A GENERAL STATEMENT
TELLING THEM TO TALK QUIETLY, IT JUST ISN’T ENOUGH TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND HOW
OR WHY TO DO SO.
3) I use soft music to set the tone in my room. Justin Knight
http://www.justinknight.com/cds.htmlhas several piano Cd’s to choose from.
I use “Piano Therapy.” I tell my students if they talk they can’t hear the
music. I find that if I allow my students the opportunity to talk using level 1
(whisper voice) they can share ideas and work, too. I tell them that if they are
using level 1 the only person that will hear them is the person right next to
them. If I hear them, they know automatically that they will be told to use zero
level voice. The choice is left for them to decide.
If they come into the class using a level 2 or 3 voice, I instruct them to
return to the hall and enter again because I know they can do a better job. It’s
amazing how they respond when they are challenged or if they feel it’s their
Voice levels are the only way to go!
Discussion with the staff
centered around being proactive by
setting up a system (as the examples above that inherently
engender expectations), eliciting samples of the levels
from the students, and then practicing the acceptable
For eliminating noise when in the hallways, set up the
procedure by having students line up and then elicit a
course of action in case someone were to talk during the “no
talking in the hallway” on the way to the cafeteria.
The importance of ELICITING a “consequence” ahead of time
cannot be over emphasized. When students have set up the
procedures and then don’t follow them, adversarial
relationship are not developed when consequences are
enforced. For example, if a student were to talk on the way
to the cafeteria and the “consequence” were to go to the
front or the rear of the line, a pause and a look by the
teacher actuates the student to voluntarily follow the
“consequence.” Again, this would have been practiced in the
classroom before leaving for lunch.
You can share and learn more about the
RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM (RRS) at
IMPULSE MANAGEMENT POSTERS and CARDS
Learning a procedure for
responding appropriately to
impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at
Return to Top
What People Say About THE RAISE RESPONSIBILITY
“This is the best year I
have had in the 25 years of being a principal. Behavior has not been a problem
this year. Our students are learning to solve their problems in a positive way.
We find that with the proper instruction, students can monitor their own
behavior and make responsible choices without the use of punishment and
Phelps Wilkins, Principal
Eisenhower Elementary School, Mesa, AZ
A descriptive table of
contents of the book describing the approach, three selected sections, and
additional items of interest are posted at: