Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – November 2003

Volume 3 Number 11


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Your Questions Answered

6. Implementing The Raise Responsibility System


I just returned from a

presentation to 500 middle school teachers and administrators at the National

Middle School Association (NMSA) conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Our hotel was

adjacent to CNN (Cable News Network) headquarters.

During the CNN tour, I was reminded that the company, started in 1980 by the

visionary Ted Turner, is no longer owned by him. He sold the company for

$900,000,000. Mr. Turner has started a restaurant chain that serves bison

burgers. Last June I spoke to the Montana Behavior Institute and learned then

that Ted Turner is the largest land owner in Montana and raises herds of bison.

The broadcasting company owns CNN, CNN Headline News (which repeats headlines

every 30 minutes), CNN Financial News, www.CNN.com,

a channel that broadcasts in English to other continents, a channel that

broadcasts in Spanish, and TNT

(Turner Network Television) that broadcasts new and older motion pictures films

from the film studio archives Turner purchased.

The company has four broadcast locations: headquarters in Atlanta, political

broadcasts from Washington, D.C., financial broadcasts from New York, and

entertainment broadcasts–such as Larry King–from Los Angeles.

I found the most interesting part of the CNN tour to be how the weather is

projected and how the teleprompter is used.

The weather is projected on a blue screen. The camera does not pick up the

particular shade of sky blue used. So, for example, when Superman was flying, he

was lying on a blue board and motioning as if he were flying. Viewers only saw

Superman flying because the blue board was not picked up by the camera.

Using the same principal of “invisible blue,” the weather is projected in such a

way that only selected objects are seen by viewers. Also, when the weather is

reported, the reporter looks at the camera but motions broadly to an

area–rather than pointing at a specific location. There is a television

monitor at each end of the weather stage so the reporter can see where his or

her hand is pointed.

Which brings up the most interesting part of the tour. I learned how news

reporters are able to look right into the camera and read the news

simultaneously. The reporter looks directly into the teleprompter where the eye

of the camera is located and where the script is reflected right into the

teleprompter in front of the red camera light. In this manner, all the scripts

can easily be read–and EVERYTHING is read, except when a reporter is

broadcasting from an “action” location.

The three CNN studios showing how the news is captured, selected, written,

edited, rehearsed, and televised was quite interesting, as is the CNN building

itself. It is located in the heart of Atlanta across from Centennial Park and

has a fountain commemorating the XXVI Olympiad. The 1996 Olympic Games hosted by

the city has the fountain in the formation of the five Olympic rings with a

large variety of programmed water spectaculars.

The National Middle School Association will hold its next conference in

Minneapolis, Minnesota, from November 4-6, 2004, where I will again be speaking.


“It is our choices that show

what we truly are, far more

than our abilities.”

Professor Aldus Dumbledore speaking to Harry Potter

–From “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

by JK Rawling


Winston Churchill once

commented, “The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. The pessimist

sees the difficulty in every opportunity.”

The pessimist allows problems to rent cognitive space. But why think of problems

when you can fill your head with solutions?

How you respond to a new idea is an example of what you put in your head? Do you

immediately dismiss it? Do you see it as foolishness? Or do you allow yourself

to examine the idea, to try it on for size, and think, “It just might be worth


The positive person is open to the new, the different, and the innovative. How

you respond to new ideas could be the difference between your learning and

growing–or stagnating.

When you reflect on it, you will conclude that positive folks have almost always

been more right than the negative ones. Every tangible item we possess or use

was created by someone, somewhere who thought, “Now that’s an idea that’s worth

trying.” Nothing was ever invented or created by somebody who said the reverse:

“That will never work.”

Positive people practice positive expectations. They know that what they think

has an effect on their expectations. Myron Tribus said, “There is no such thing

as immaculate perception. What you see is what you thought before you looked.”

Psychologists refer to this as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” If you expect the

good to happen, more often than not, it will. And if you expect a bad thing to

happen, it often does.

Why deprive yourself of the power of the positive? It’s an attitude you can

develop. Just think, “It might work,” and then practice positive expectations.


My mother-in-law–whom we

greatly miss since her recent passing at 101–used to say, “Be careful of asking

for someone’s opinion. The person may give it to you.”

If someone asks you for your opinion and if the person perceives that your

comments are derogatory, there is a problem.

Cognition and emotion go hand in hand, with the latter preceding the former. In

other words, what we hear may prompt a negative feeling. Once a negative feeling

has erupted, it doesn’t do any good to try to convince the person that the way

he or she feels is wrong. You’ve got to deal with the way the person feels


An approach to resolving the situation is to ask the person whether the person

is angry with you or what you said. This will prompt the person to reflect. It

will also diffuse the negative feelings because you have redirected the focus.

We want to be honest with others but need to realize our honesty can be

interpreted as derogatory or negative. Having a good question to ask–if

needed–when we give our opinion is simply good preparation.



I am at the end of my tether with my 6-year old son. He does not pay attention

and is distracting in class. At home everything is fine. He has got a behavior

book that he brings to school, so his teacher records his behavior for the day.

He brings that home and he is punished accordingly, i.e., early bedtime, no

toys/cartoons. He promises to behave, but he never does. Could you please point

me in the right direction.


Take him for a walk and have a conversation with him. (Boys will not open up

like girls. Boys will open up more if they are doing something–playing

checkers, walking, or involved in some activity.)

After starting the conversation on a light subject, ask him if he finds the work

very difficult. If he does, get a commitment from him to show you an example. If

you perceive he has some learning difficulty, inform the school

that you would like him tested. Also, have his hearing and vision tested.

During your activity with him, also ask him how he FEELS about his teacher.

If he does not feel he has a good relationship with his teacher, there is a

problem. Have him relate his feelings to you and determine (a) how he can choose

to respond to his feelings and (b) develop some procedure he can use to redirect

negative thoughts so his impulses will not overcome him.

Share your observations with his teacher.


You can share and learn more about the





I have been working on teaching procedures for appropriate noise levels. I think

the kids don’t really know how to control their voices very well yet and need

specific instruction on how and why to do it–as well as a way to

remember to do it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

RESPONSE:A – By the teacher who posted the question:

I have been telling students that when they are sitting at their table group,

they should have “TABLE GROUP VOICES.” That means only others at their own table

group need to and should hear their voice. If someone at the next table

hears them or if I hear them, then it’s too loud.

I then added “PARTNER VOICES.” They were doing an activity in pairs and I

explained directly 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. I think if we make a general statement

telling them to talk quietly, that it just isn’t enough to get them to

understand how or why to do so. Of course this needs to be connected to the RRS

with a conversation about what would someone behaving on Level A, B, C, and D

look and sound like when talking with a partner (or in a group).

RESPONSE: B- By another teacher:

Akin to Dr. Marshall’s alphabetical levels for behavior, I

use a numerical level for noise.

Level zero – Silence.

Level 1 – Whispering – Only the person you are whispering to


hear you.

Level 2 – Speaking voice – The one you use when having a


Level 3 – Group voice – The voice you use when giving a


to a group.

This is

the voice I use when teaching.

Level 4 – Playground voice – The voice you use at recess


you are playing games or shouting to your


Level 5 – SCREAMING – This voice is what you use when you


hurt or in danger. The only time you might use


voice when you are not hurt or danger is when

you are

cheering for a sports team.

I tell students before we start every activity what noise

level I expect.

Remember that young people’s

brains are like sponges. They can absorb anything. The trick is to make meaning

of what is absorbed to enhance learning and memory.

Break “an/archy” up by teaching that the prefix “an” means “not,” “without,” or

“lacking”–in this case, “without rule.” Teach that “mono” means “one.” “Olig”

means “a few.” Therefore, monarchy (like a king) is rule by one person.

Oligarchy means rule by a few people. Anarchy means that there is no leader, so

people do anything they want–often without any regard for others.

If you use a word other than “anarchy,” my suggestion is to be sure it starts

with the letter “A” because, as time goes by, reference will be made to the

letters only (viz., Level A, B, C, or D). So “absence of order” works–but then

you need to teach what “absence” means.)

Here is an easy exercise to teach the concept of anarchy to the young. Tell them

that for the next two minutes they can do anything they want, but as soon as you

say, “FREEZE,” they must stop immediately what they are doing. Before beginning,

ask them if they would agree to this. Have them nod their heads up and down (in

the usual affirmative manner) before starting. Be sure every head is nodding.

Then say, “Go!” The youngsters will do all kinds of things– including teasing,

bullying, punching, and generally being wild.

After a full two minutes, command: “FREEZE!”

Then have the students congregate to describe the activity and how they behaved.

Conclude the lesson by announcing, “That was anarchy.”


Learning a procedure to

respond appropriately to impulses is described on the Impulse Management link at


A REVISED VERSION of the CARD (not the poster) is now available and has been

posted at


Level C for COOPERATION is in green, as is Level D. Although the goal is for

motivation to be on level D, either of these two levels is acceptable.

Level C for CONFORMITY has been added in YELLOW to remind students to

reflect–to be cautious (as in a yellow traffic signal)–before engaging in an

activity suggested by a peer. This is especially the case when the suggestion

will lead to inappropriate or irresponsible behavior.