The Raise Responsibility System


Here are a few situations most likely to occur in the classroom. They are all social situations. How do you respond using the Raise Responsibility  System?

1. A student tells the teacher another student pulled her hair and won’t stop. She asked the person to stop and she won’t.

2. A boy hits a girl. When asked about the situation the boy says, “She hit me first.” (Usually it’s a tap on the shoulder interpreted as a “hit”)

3. A students says another student keeps calling her names likes “crybaby”.


The foundation of the Raise Responsibility System is teaching the Levels of Development—which does a number of things, but perhaps the most significant is that it separates the act from the actor (to use Alfie Kohn’s phrase), the deed from the doer, the behavior from the person.

As long as reference is made to a person’s action, that person will be prompted to self-defend. By referring to a level of social development, self-defense is unnecessary because reference is made to something “outside” the person.

Without teaching the levels and continually referring to them in examples for both behavior and learning, you would not be using the system.

Assuming you and your students understand the levels, when an inappropriate behavior occurs, the second phrase of the system is employed. This second phase is referred to as “Checking for Understanding.” This two-step approach is simply using cognitive learning theory. You have taught; now you check for understanding.

It is this reflection which prompts self-evaluation. And self-evaluation is the most effective approach to influence a person to change.

The youngster has acted inappropriately, so the reflected question to be asked is (privately, if practical), “On what level is that behavior? Remember that the person asking the question controls the conversation. If the student doesn’t answer, continue to ask the same question. A “scripting” of sample conversations is in the book.

If the behavior continues, then go to the third part of the system, “Guided Choices.” The most effective approach here is to elicit a procedure by asking, “What do you suggest we do next time so that you will not be a victim by letting your impulses direct you?” “Do you really want to be a victim of your impulses? If not let’s come up with a procedure so you can be a victor, rather than a victim, when you get that same impulse.”

Specifically in each of the situations above, I would respond by asking: “What level is it when someone bothers someone else?” Then walk away. If bothersome activity continues, go into “Guided Choices.”

Another approach is to say to the “bullying” student, “Don’t worry about what will happen later. We’ll talk about it after class.” This approach will immediately redirect the student’s thinking about his unacceptable behavior.

I would also use solving circles—clearly described in the both the education book and the  parenting book.