Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – March 2005

Volume 5 Number 3


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

Impulse Management Posters and Cards



February found me in

Alberta, Canada, giving a keynote entitled, “Four Practices of Superior

Teachers,” followed by a “Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards”

workshop to the Calgary Teachers Association. I think I also had the most

humbling experience of my life.

I have been honored to speak in various locations around the world. Certainly

presenting in Kuala Lumpur at the behest of the minister of education of

Malaysia was an honor and a most gratifying experience. And I look forward to my

May visit in Beijing where I will be presenting with a Chinese translation of

the book. But what I witnessed the evening of February 17 was overwhelming.

Fifty members of the Calgary Teachers Association had formed a Marvin Marshall

Book Club, and I was the invited speaker for their second meeting.

I know that various schools have met to discuss the book. Kerry Weisner of

British Columbia may have been one of the first to have a morning “Muffins with

Marv.” But the privilege of having a personal interchange with people who are

already familiar with the book was an evening of joy that I do not expect to be


One attendee apologized when I signed her book. She had numerous notes affixed

to various pages. This was not the first time I had seen the book with numerous

Post-its attached. Once I received an e-mail from someone telling me that it was

the person’s third reading and notes were still being affixed.

I thank all of you who have purchased the book and have found it to be both

professionally and personally enriching.


Although fear is usually

self-talk, there are times when it is most difficult to think that it is not

real. So rather than attempting to eradicate it, warm up to it.

We can learn from our children. Children don’t say, “I can’t because I’m

afraid.” For example, a youngster will get on a high diving board and dive off

even though she has never done it before. She’ll run to the parent with a great

smile, and the parent will ask, “Weren’t you afraid?” She’ll respond, “Yes, I

was afraid; I was really scared.”

But a grown-up won’t do the same thing. If you say to a grown-up, “Are you going

to dive off the board?” the adult will say, “No, I’m afraid.” The mental talk of

the adults is, “If I’m afraid, I can’t do it.” But the truth of the matter is

that you can do it even if you are afraid; it’s just less comfortable than doing

something you are not afraid to do. But if you do it a couple of times, you

won’t be afraid to do it anymore, and it will become more and more comfortable.

Rather than saying, “I can’t do it,”–whether it is learning a new computer

program, get going on the treadmill, or just acknowledging someone instead of

evaluating the person–you can do it by easing into the task.

The Japanese have a word for it: kaizen. It comes from the words “kai” meaning

school and “zen” meaning wisdom. Its core: Continuous progress comes from making

small improvements towards a goal. “SMALL” is the key word. Just take one step

at a time when trying something new. This “warming up” to the task will have you

feeling competent and successful in a shorter period of time than you would have


When promoting responsibility in ourselves or actuating responsibility in

others, take small steps–instead of large leaps.

The familiar aphorism states this idea succinctly: Small strokes fell great



Reject rejection.

Rejection does not prevent success; fear of rejection does. You should keep in

mind that there is no rational reason to fear rejection. Reject the rejector,

and go about your affairs.

The high school student applied to a prestigious university but was not

accepted. The student was not accepted before the application was submitted and

was not accepted after the application was submitted. In reality, the student is

no worse off than if the application had not been submitted at all.

A few years ago when I was presenting for university extension programs around

the country, one university where I had a desire to present did not hire me. My

mentor in this endeavor was a psychologist who is an expert in

“passive-aggressive” behavior–now referred to as “oppositional defiant

disorder.” (Dr. James Sutton http://docspeak.com)

When I informed Jim of the university’s decision, his remark to me was, “That’s

their loss.” I took his approach; I rejected their rejection.

Interestingly, the same university now uses the book as their core text in a

required course.

Treat the negative response as it deserves to be treated; reject it.


The church gossip and

self-appointed arbiter of the church’s morals kept nosing into other people’s

business. Several church members were unappreciative of her activities but

feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being a

drunk after she saw his pickup truck parked in front of the town’s only bar one

afternoon. She commented to George and others that everyone seeing it there

would know what he was doing.

George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and then walked away. He

didn’t explain, defend, or deny; he said nothing.

Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of her house . . .

and left it there all night.

This reminds me of what someone once said, “Assumption is the mother of all



A few years ago, the

former Secretary of Education, William Bennett, was asked by a 7th grader, “How

can you tell a good country from a bad one?”

Dr. Bennett replied, “I apply the ‘gate’ test. When the gates of a country are

open, watch which way the people run. Do they run into the country or out of the


The question was an excellent one and prompted an excellent response. I think

the same question could be applied to parenting, teaching, and any organization.

If the people you deal with were exposed to other possibilities or

opportunities, and if all other things were equal, would they stay with you–or

would they leave you?

Consider taking an inventory. Are the people acting more like pioneers or

prisoners? Are they more upbeat or downcast? Your inventory will tell you if

your dealings are positive or negative.

Then, if you don’t like the results of your inventory, select one thing at a

time you can do to change. Don’t wait for others to do something. Just focus on

what you can do. Use the kaizen approach. Focus on one change at a time.

Another way of looking at it is to find what de-motivates. Then see what you can

do to remove one of the de-motivators. You’ll see instant results.


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 attended your session at

the Brain Expo in San Diego two years ago. I have put your ideas into practice

in my classroom and am now researching the pitfalls of behaviorism and rewards

and consequences for my Master’s Degree.

I am looking at the variables of an autocratic classroom that uses rewards and

consequences and a democratic classroom that uses expectations, choice, and

reflection in classroom management.


I shy away from describing a classroom as “democratic.” I use the term,

“Democracy,” for level D because democracy and responsibility are

inseparable–and the prime purpose of the hierarchy is to promote

responsibility. I know that some teachers use the phrase, “democratic

classroom,” but I think it carries the implicit message that the students,

rather than the teacher, are the the primary source for directing the learning.

There is also a little confusion in the second paragraph above regarding the


and REFLECTION in classroom management.”

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT has to do with structure, routines, rituals, and

procedures. In contrast, the RRSystem hierarchy promotes EXPECTATIONS; offering

CHOICES increases effectiveness and improves relationships; and prompting

REFLECTION is the most effective approach to promoting change in behavior. But

they are not part of teaching procedures, which is the foundation of classroom


Harry Wong and I both gave presentations last month in Chicago at the annual

convention of the Association of Teacher Educators. This is an association of

college and university professors who teach future teachers. Dr. Wong’s entire

keynote had to do with teaching procedures. One comment he made should be heard

by every teacher who assigns homework. As an award-winning and nationally

recognized outstanding classroom teacher, he never assigned homework (home

assignments) until the third week of school. His students were taught procedures

regarding how to set up the homework and how to do it. After students knew

precisely how to “attack” the challenge, had practiced doing homework in class,

had reinforced the procedure–only then was homework assigned. The result:

Rarely was a homework assignment not turned in. WHAT A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS



Read the article entitled, “Curriculum, Instruction, Classroom Management, and

Discipline² at


The link at the following site will also assist:



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



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“Your ideas about what

motivates us have had a profound impact creating a positive environment for our


Pamela Blood

Child Care, Murrieta Valley Unified School District, CA