Promoting Responsibility Newsletter – February 2003

Volume 3 Number 2


 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships

 5. Your Questions Answered

 6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System

 7. Promoting Learning

 8. About the book


Speaking engagements this month take me to Rome, Naples, Venice, Sicily, Spain, and England. Upon returning, I immediately fly to Texas to speak to the Texas Middle School Association.

My presentations will be about my simple-to-implement system that rests upon teaching a hierarchy of social development so people can understand and articulate the difference between external and internal motivation.

I will discuss the three principles I practice (positivity, choice, and reflection) and the three parts of the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM (teaching, asking, and eliciting).

Both the instructional model and the levels of social development can be found on the SECOND link of my website at

There is a cost for using this system, and you should know about it up-front. Anyone using the system will lose the feeling of satisfaction that comes from overpowering another person or from exacting retribution (punishment).

But, of course, these feelings are replaced by the reward of
satisfaction one receives in promoting responsibility, increasing your effectiveness, and improving your relationships.


In last month’s newsletter, I inquired if anyone would be interested in a poster of my Impulse Management technique.

The interest was so great that I made quite an investment to have posters printed using special paper and ink so that the colors will not fade over time.

You can see both the Impulse Management poster and cards at

An explanation is sent with each poster–as explained on pages 153 -155 in the book,


After having received a number of requests for a mailring, we started one on the seventh of this month. Patricia Murphy has taken the leadership role by volunteering to set it up and manage the system.

A mailring is an e-mail discussion group (also referred to as a listserv) comprised of people who share ideas and questions about a common interest. The mailring allows you to pose questions, add your own thoughts, and get feedback from others.

This free mailring is dedicated to promoting responsible behavior and learning using the RAISE RESPONSIBILITY SYSTEM–an approach that is proactive (vs. reactive); noncoercive (vs. coercive); empowering (vs. overpowering); responsible (vs. dependent); positive (vs. negative); aware of our ability to respond to any stimulus, situation, or urge (vs. lack of control); and reflective (vs. impulsive).

In order to reinforce the fact that members should at least have some rudimentary sense of what the approach is about, it will be a requirement to review the “Instructional Model” and “Levels of Development” refered to earlier at
If you would like to learn more about the Raise Responsibility System group, visit the “Home” site at
SUGGESTION: If you plan to subscribe to the mailring, copy the following information into a word document for future reference.
You can simply read the messages, respond so the group receives your message, or respond only to the person who has posted the message.

Yahoo Groups–the service we will be using–allows you to receive the e-mails generated as individual messages or in digest bundles. It also allows viewing at the “Home” site without receiving the messages as e-mails.

If you choose individual messages, the e-mails will be delivered one at a time as they are posted by whoever wrote them. If you choose the digest version, Yahoo will save messages and send them to you in tidy bundles–usually one or two times a week.

You can always change options or unsubscribe.
When someone sends a message or posts a question to the groups’ special e-mail address (listed on the “Home” site), everyone on the ring automatically receives it. Therefore, before sending a message, ask yourself: “Is this something others might be interested in?”

If your message is a personal message to one person, then send your message directly to that person’s own e-mail address–rather than to the ring. For example, do not send mailring messages that simply state “Thank you” or “Me too.”

If you wish to send these types of personal e-mails, send them directly to the person’s own e-mail address. This is done by capturing the “From” address, opening a new blank e-mail message, and then pasting it in the “To” address. Write your message and send it. REMEMBER that if you click on “Reply” in the original message, everyone on the ring will be sent your personal message.

Never leave the “Subject” line blank.

Reading the “Subject” line first helps you decide whether or not it interests you. Therefore, when you send a message, always make sure the SUBJECT of your message MATCHES the TOPIC of your message.

When replying, don’t make everyone read through the entire
previous message to read your reply. Quote only a small portion of the previous message to help people remember what it was–just few a lines to give your reply some continuity (about this much). Then send your message.

Include your own e-mail address under your name (signature file) in your messages. This will help others contact you individually if desired. If you are a classroom teacher, including your subject and/or grade level adds clarification.
Be careful when making jokes or using sarcasm. Your words may be easily misunderstood and exaggerated in print.
DON’T TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. It looks like you are shouting and it is more difficult to read.
Not every single message will interest you. Simply delete those that are of no interest. This is the reason that it is so important to identify the topic of the message on the subject line.

When you send a message, you will receive a copy of your own
message because you are a member of the ring. This may be quite helpful because a few weeks later, you may wish to go back and read old messages.

You can also manage the messages in creative ways. Following are a few approaches to consider.

FREE E-MAIL: You can set up a different e-mail just for the
mailring. Numerous companies offer free, easy to use, web-based e-mail–including Hotmail <>
and Yahoo <>.

E-MAIL FILTERING: The e-mail software you are using may have the ability to filter or sort the messages you receive into folders. After setting this up, your mailring messages will no longer flood your “Inbox.” Instead, they will automatically be deposited in the various folders you set up, which leaves your “Inbox” free for personal correspondence.
By participating in this mailring, you grant royalty-free and perpetual rights to compile, edit, archive, and publish your messages in both electronic and print for the benefit of users of the system.

Persons who engage in personal attacks, use inappropriate
language, or fail to follow the guidelines described may be
removed from the mailring.

Your willingness to share your ideas will be rewarded many times over when others add their own ideas to what you have shared.


Most people plan for everything in their lives–except their

As George Burns (who passed on at 99) oftentimes said, “If I had known I would live so long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

These thoughts were prompted by a family gathering at our home the second week of last month: the celebration of my
mother-in-law’s 100th birthday.

A few months ago, the University of Southern California chapter of Phi Delta Kappa International (my home chapter) honored Emory Stoops, former national president and its first international president on the 100th anniversary of his birth. (Phi Delta Kappa is an educational association devoted to advancing research, service, and leadership in education. It publishes perhaps the most respected journal in the profession, “THE PHI DELTA KAPPAN.”

As Dr. Stoops easily walked to the podium and gave a lucid and articulate history of the association, we were delightfully amazed and very pleasantly surprised at his eloquence, and his physical, emotional, and psychological health. (Phi Delta Kappa International has just reissued the second edition of his book, “PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS – A Guidebook for Students and Educators.”)

So here is a thought: if you were going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of your birth, what would you do differently now to enjoy the upcoming event?


“Don’t listen to yourself when you’re in a bad mood.”
Advise from my mother-in-law
At the celebration of the 100th anniversary of her birth
January 15, 2003


Telling the truth may not be comfortable, it may not make you look your best, but it’s a sure way to good relationships.

I like the way one wealthy individual told the truth. He was
asked how he had amassed a huge fortune. He said, “It was really quite simple. I bought an apple for five cents, spent the evening polishing it and sold it the next day for ten cents. With this, I bought two apples, spent the evening polishing them, and sold them for twenty cents. And so it went until I had amassed $1.60. It was then that my wife’s father died and left us a million dollars.”

The man told the truth. He didn’t glamorize the process. He
didn’t “stretch” the truth for a little extra impact. This man simply told the truth–which is what you’ve got to tell if you aspire to have good relationships with others.

The strange thing is that the truth always comes out anyway–and it may just as well come from you.

A corollary of telling the truth is admitting mistakes.
Unfortunately, most cultures discourage people from admitting mistakes. Instead, burying mistakes is the modus operandi. Unless the culture encourages openness and its cousins, truth and honesty, then mistakes are often repeated–not necessarily by you but by others.

Alan Zimmerman tells the story of Katie Paine, founder and CEO of the Delahaye Group. She instituted the “Mistake of the Month Club.” She reported, “Several years ago, I overslept and missed a flight to a big client meeting. I walked into my next staff meeting, plunked $50 down on the table, and said, ‘If you can top this mistake, that money is yours.'”

Katie continued, “People started to own up to mistakes, and
suddenly we had a flood of them. At every staff meeting since, we’ve set aside 30 minutes to write up the mistake of the month on a white board. Then we cast a vote. Since 1989 we’ve recorded more than 2000 mistakes. Once a mistake hits the white board, it tends not to happen again. It has become a bonding ritual. Once you’ve gone through it, you’re a member of the club.”

Admitting your mistakes take guts. But that’s how responsibility and trust are built. Truthfulness is the foundation that makes for both improved relationships and increased effectiveness.


I find that I am telling my youngster, “No,” so often that it disturbs me. I want to be positive, but “No” sounds so negative. Do you have any suggestions?


Interesting that you asked this question since I ran into a
similar situation recently with my wife.

We were about to attend a “Robbie Burns Dinner”–a formal event dedicated to the memory of the gifted Scottish poet and song writer who gave us such world classics as “Auld Lange Syne” and “My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose.”

I planned to wear formal Scottish attire–a “Montrose” jacket and kilt. My wife inquired if she should wear a certain dress that she had selected. I asked myself,”How do I delicately tell Evelyn to make a different selection?”

I simply replied, “Not for this occasion.”

Consider using the same opening words when your youngster starts to do something for which you do not wish to give approval. It may sound like, “Not right now,” “Not until I have time to think about that,” “Not against the wall; can you make a better choice?” etc.

“Not” simply doesn’t carry the same negative overtone of finality that “No” connotes.


Each time you coerce someone into doing something
by using your power of authority, you deprive
that person of an opportunity to become more responsible.


We attended your presentation at the National Middle Schools
Association conference in Portland, Oregon, recently, and my
teammates and I are now piloting your program with our 7th
graders. We all purchased a copy of your book, and as the
humanities teacher on the team I taught the levels to the
students. So far things are going pretty well, but I have two burning questions for you.

First, I am a little unsure on how the steps are implemented. As you know, uncertainty in a discipline program can be a dangerous thing! Basically my question is this: Does a student have to misbehave three times in one class period in order to receive a diagnostic? In other words, is every day an absolute clean slate? What about a student who regularly is asked to check for understanding? Ever skip the essay and go right to the

Second, you mention in your book that sometimes it is important for students to not know the consequences ahead of time. Considering this, I did not make explicit to the students what the levels of response to misbehavior would be (essay, diagnostics, letter home, etc.). While a few students have discovered this, I am beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t go over what happens with the diagnostics, etc. with the classes. What do you recommend? Should they know ahead of time that the diagnostics would be sent home after the second?

Also, do you commonly conference with students in response to a diagnostic? I have given one so far, and I really want to discuss the student’s responses with them.


To see how the levels of social development can be implemented to promote both responsibility and learning, see “A Letter Worth Reading,” the first link on

On the contrary, uncertainty in disciplinary situations can be the most powerful approach–which is contrary to what is most often espoused.

Not knowing what will happen is so much more effective. To prove the point, try the following on a misbehaving student. Just say, “Don’t worry about what will happen. We’ll talk about it later.”

The student will immediately stop his misbehavior and think about what will happen. You have accomplished your goal–having the student desist in the inappropriate behavior and do some reflecting. This becomes a self-correcting strategy.

After the student has identified the inappropriate level chosen to act on (level B–making own standards), simply tell the student that it is an unacceptable level in your classroom. Then ELICIT a consequence by saying, “What do you suggest we do about it?” Follow this up with, “What procedure will you use if you feel the same urge again?”

By ELICITING a consequence, rather than imposing one, the
youngster has ownership of it. By the student’s coming up with a procedure to direct the inappropriate impulse, you will have assisted the person in becoming more self-disciplined.

Regarding EVERY DAY BEING A CLEAN SLATE> Yes, every day is a new day. Remember that the objective is to promote responsible behavior. Punishment would only create resentment and serve no useful purpose.

When a student has completed a few essays and you believe that escalating the ante is necessary, use the Self-Diagnostic Referral–but only after you have checked for understanding first. That is, the student first needs to recognize the level the student is choosing to act on. This serves as a warning. If the student then continues to act inappropriately, use the form.

Let the students know that you have no desire to inform their parents when they act irresponsibly. Your desire is to have them act at level C or D of the social development hierarchy.

However, at a certain point if two or more Self-Diagnostic
Referrals are necessary, you owe it to their parents to keep them informed. So ask students, “If you were a parent, wouldn’t you want to know if your child were acting on a level not in his best interest–rather than on a level that a growing, maturing person would be acting on?”

Don’t tell the student you will be mailing the information home because this type of student may intercept the mail. As described in the book, the referrals went home along with the parent note and a copy of the levels of social development.

Go over the Self-Diagnostic Referral with the student. During the discussion, emphasize that you have no intention of changing the person. You couldn’t even if you wanted to. A person can only change himself–not others.

But, only levels C and D are acceptable in the classroom. Tell the student, “If you choose to act on an unacceptable level, I will do everything possible to help you make a better choice. So let’s discuss what you recorded on the Self-Diagnostic Referral, and let’s see what we can do to assist in you.

Keep in mind that good relationships can dramatically change
behavior. So, yes, a personal conversation can lead to enhanced relationships.

Persevere and be positive with your students. Let them know that you will not give up on their ability to become responsible young people.

Finally, emphasize and discuss level C. Most of them are on it. They want to conform to their peer influence, which often is at odds with what they know to be the APPROPRIATE (emphasize this word) thing to do..


My PROMOTING LEARNING article on <> for this month is about differentiating between curriculum, instruction, classroom management, and discipline.

Understanding the differences between classroom management and discipline is critical for an effective classroom.

I just finished reading a book by a well-noted educational
author. In a chapter on classroom environment, he wrote about discipline. Two chapters later in writing about classroom management, he again wrote about discipline.

Most educators use the term classroom management when they mean discipline. Be clear. Be articulate. Understand the differences between the two.

The article is at:

I urge you to print the article and share it with fellow

8. About the Book

How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning”
“This book has great payoffs. It shows how to raise responsibility–a basic desire and need of our society. The quality of family life and school life will improve as the principles of this book are put into practice. School and workplace leaders will make many applications to management practices as well.”

Steve Barkley, Executive Vice President Performance Learning Systems

A descriptive table of contents, three selected sections, and additional items of interest are posted at: