Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – May 2004

Volume 4 Number 5

 1. Welcome

 2. Promoting Responsibility

 3. Increasing Effectiveness

 4. Improving Relationships
 5. Promoting Learning

 6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System:
Free Mailring
Your Questions Answered
Impulse Management Posters and Cards


You can hear my interview with Audio Education On-line in this month’s (May 2004) edition in their “Update” section. The 11-minute interview can be heard at http://www.audioed-online.com.

A free 30-day trial of the Audio Education Journal is available. Look at their “Log In Box” (upper left corner of their site). At the bottom of it, click on “First Visit? Click Here.”
Organizing, advertising, and marketing public seminars require an enormous amount of time and financial resources. These are the prime reasons that I have not considered sponsoring my own seminars. However, in the last few months I have received a number of inquiries about conducting presentations in various localities.

If you would be interested in attending one of my presentations, the remainder of this “Welcome” is for you.

To “test the waters,” an e-mail link is at the end of this

Following is what to include on it:


Next to it, list your nearest METROPOLITAN area. For example, if you live near Denver, Colorado, the subject line of your e-mail would read: Subject: PRESENTATION – DENVER

In the BODY of the e-mail, please indicate your CATEGORY. Examples are: teacher, school administrator, counselor, social worker, parent, grandparent–or if in some other category, please state what it is.

If there is enough interest around your community, you will be notified if a presentation will be planned.

The e-mail link is: mailto:Marv@MarvinMarshall.com

Your e-mail address will NOT be shared or sent to anyone.

(If you know others who may be interested in a local presentation, please forward this information to them.)
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Knowing the cause of a behavior may be interesting but has little to do with changing behavior to become more responsible.

People know when they act inappropriately, but KNOWING the motivation does not stop behavior–nor does it lead to a change in future behavior.

This realization is in direct opposition to many approaches aimed at determining the cause of a behavior–with the assumption that knowing the cause is necessary to change the behavior.

As compelling as it may be to know the motivation (the “Why?”) that prompts behavior, it is the action that will be taken–not the reason(s) for the action–that determines whether or not there will be a change.

Developing a procedure to direct behavior is a significantly more effective approach than attempting to find a cause for a behavior–in hopes that knowing the cause will prompt a change.

Cigarette smokers may know the reason(s) they started to smoke; they also know the repercussions that may result from their actions. But how effective is knowing these factors in changing behavior? Just ask a smoker.


A recent e-mail:

I am trying to put together a way for the teachers at our school to reflect on their year and to self-evaluate. But it needs to be something that is do-able, i.e., won’t feel overwhelming in its scope or the time it would take for them to complete it and would feel meaningful and help guide our work together for next year. Do you have any suggestions for me?

My response:

Pose the following:

If I were a student, would I want me as a teacher?

If yes, list the reasons.

If no, list the reasons..


In August 1986, Lee Iacocca–the president of Chrysler–was about to address his dealers at the company’s annual convention held in Atlantic City, NJ. Iacocca’s message was based on telling his dealers how they could increase their business in the next year. To succeed, he said, “All you have to do is memorize four words. Here they are: Make someone like you.”

The truth of the matter is that you cannot MAKE someone like you–but you can certainly INFLUENCE a person. And the most effective way to influence a person is to be noncoercive in a way that the person trusts you.

Just think of anyone you call a friend. Chances are you do not try to coerce that person and that person does not attempt to coerce you. You also trust that person. Without these two characteristics of noncoercion and trust, you probably would not consider that person a friend.

As with the question posed in the previous section, here are a few others to ponder if you desire to to be successful in your various relationships:

If I were a child, would I want me as a parent?

If I were an employee, would I want me as a boss?

If I were married, would I want to be married to me?


At the International Reading Association conference in Reno this past week, a teacher told me that her students have no motivation.

The following is my rather dense “lecture” that I shared with her. (See footnote regarding the term “dense.”)

I suggested that every student attending school is motivated; without motivation, one would not get out of bed. Whether the motivation is prompted by a situation, a stimulus, an impulse, or an urge, the person arising from bed is motivated.

If you grant me the assumption that simply by being in school there is some degree of motivation, the question then has to do with the type of motivation we are using. W. Edwards Deming–who showed the manufacturing world how to improve quality while simultaneously lowering costs through collaboration and empowerment–stated that problems are more with the system than with the individual. So it is with education. Allow me to explain.

There are three foundations for what we refer to as brain-compatible learning:
(1) a safe and secure environment,
(2) meaningful experiences, and
(3) reinforcement.

(1) Safe and secure environment.
In addition to school safety, this also pertains to the classroom. For example, when a teacher asks a question and then looks around the room, finally deciding to call. . . . “Stacy!” Stacy is stressed. The student is put on the spot.

(A better approach would be to pose the question, have all the students discuss possible answers with a partner–thereby obtaining 100% participation–and then ask for a volunteer.)

You will recall how another form of stress works when, after taking a test, five minutes later you say to yourself, “Oh! I knew that answer.” The fact is that taking the test was stressful–as was putting Stacy on the spot.

A safe and secure environment refers to psychological safety as well as physical safety.

(2) Meaningful experiences.
The more multisensory experiences, the greater will be your memory. Think of one of one of your travels. You remember visions, some sounds, perhaps a few tastes from eating experiences, some tactile or kinesthetic experiences, and even perhaps some olfactory remembrances–especially in places where the smells were outstanding. Your travel was a direct experience.

Teaching and learning are done by one of three types of experiences: (a) direct,
(b) secondary, and
(3) symbolic.

Using music as an example, here is how the three levels can be explained:

(a) Direct Playing a musical instrument
(b) Secondary Listening to music
(c) Symbolic
Giving a sheet with musical notes to a student, teaching how to read the notes, and having the student visualize the written notes in order to simulate the music.

We too often rely on symbolic experiences–which oftentimes are beyond students’ cognitive development and/or personal experiences.

And then we wonder why students lose interest in learning!

Especially in low socioeconomic areas, the dearth of exposure to multisensory, enriched environments–which sets the groundwork for learning–puts these students at a significant disadvantage. (As an aside, specialists in testing acknowledge the importance of early exposures and their significant effects on test scores.)

(3) Reinforcement
The old maxim is true: Use it or lose it. As experiences are repeated, synapses or neural connections for learning become more “efficient.”

Therefore, in order to have students motivated to learn, the teacher should use safe psychological practices (those that don’t arouse the amygdala), create meaningful learning experiences, employ direct or secondary (in contrast to symbolic) encounters, and reinforce (practice) the learning.

Without these, would we not expect so many of our students to be unmotivated?

Interestingly, the word “dense” usually has a negative connotation when it refers to a person’s ability to learn. However, as it pertains to the brain, watch the negative connotation of “dense” change to a positive one. The more neural connections of axons and dendrites, the more myelination and other growth that occur in the brain, the more dense the brain becomes. In this sense, the denser the brain, the more experiences and smarter the person!

For some specific ideas to motivate, link to Click Here.


I am still having difficulty with a few 9th grade girls who
have been recently discharging negativity during
instruction. When I gave a girl a form to reflect and
complete this week she complied, but held onto very hostile
feelings towards me because I didn’t give anybody else the

Despite the fact that I maintained empathy and talked to her
privately about it, she would not let go of her feelings of
unfairness. She is a youngster with emotional problems.

Should I be dealing any differently with emotionally
impaired kids? Some of these 9th grade girls are very tough
street-wise, Detroit kids with a chip on their shoulders.

I use tutoring to build rapport, but I can’t make them come
to me. I use the system always with kindness, and I am
completely comfortable with it. I never lose my cool

Do you think I should just remain consistent? How do you
reach “hard kids?”


Ask the girl if she knew why she was given the form. No
answering her rebuttal–if she gives you one. Continue to
ask her if she knows why the form was given to her. Explain
that there may be four cars speeding, but the highway patrol
officer only pulled one car over for a ticket. IT’S NOT
FAIR! Life may not be fair, but ask her if she understands
why the form was given to her. The idea is to have her
acknowledge that SHE did something that was unacceptable or

Then ask her if she feels your giving her the form was
personal. Elicit from her the acknowledgment that your use
of the form was the quickest and most effective way to stop
inappropriate behavior. Explain that if a student is acting
on level B, that student is sending a message to the teacher
that she (student) only understands a greater authority,
thereby bringing out level B behavior by the teacher. Ask
her if that is the type of teacher she wants–one who tells
her what to do and how to behave. Then assure her that your
only interest is in her acknowledging inappropriate behavior
and not in bossing her.

Assuming the form is an essay (not a self-diagnostic
referral), ask her what she would like you to do with the
form. She will probably say to throw it away. I had a
wastepaper basket by my desk and after tearing up the essay,
I threw it out–in front of the student.

My objectives were for the student: (1) to take
responsibility for inappropriate action, (2) to realize that
in such situations it was most expeditious for the teacher
to act on level “B” because a person who makes her own rules
is asking for authority to be used, and (c) to leave with
the belief that I had no negative feelings toward the
student–that I was only interested in promoting responsible
behavior, not punishment.

You may also want to consider asking her if she would like
to have a class meeting and put the topic on the table. If
she prefers not to, then ask her what can she do the next
time she has the same impulse as she had previously. Elicit
a procedure from her. Ask her to practice it three times
before the next class. Explain to her that unless she has a
procedure to redirect her impulses, she will be a victim of
them. Ask her if she wants to be in control. When she
answers in the affirmative, then reiterate the importance of
her having and practicing a procedure to redirect future

Most importantly, resist using any coercion with them.
Continue to speak to them in positive and empowering ways,
let them know that you cannot and will not even try to make
them learn–that learning or not learning is their choice,
and continually prompt self-reflective questions, e.g., “I’m
not looking for an answer, but you may want to ask yourself
if what you are doing is in your own best interest.”

Finally, YES, be consistent by employing the three
practices, referring to the levels of social development,
and eliciting a procedure to help the student redirect
impulses. For STUDENTS OF GRADE 9 AND ABOVE, rather than
asking them to identify a level out loud, just suggest to
them that they reflect on the level on which THEY ARE


Learning a procedure to respond appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at http://marvinmarshall.com/impulsemanagement.html