Using the Levels of Development Outside the Classroom

This website is filled with examples of how the Levels of Development work in the classroom. As such, many people assume that the system works in a classroom setting with average, everyday students, but that it has little application outside the classroom. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Levels of Development can be used in numerous scenarios, including at-risk youth.

Consider the example of Frank Spino and how he uses the Levels of Development. Frank attended one of my seminars in Sacramento, California several years ago. He now uses the Levels of Development in various situations—including those when he assists the local police. I asked Frank to share how he uses the Levels of Development after arresting a youth and taking the young person to the police department.

Here is his response of how he uses The Levels of Development outside the classroom.

I worked for Grant School District and am now a police sergeant. I now teach a class for school resource officers and am using your Levels of Development for officers with only the badge as their authority to get kids responsible.

I start by being proactive. I first explain the Levels of Development. I then inform the person that it is the person’s choice as to how he/she will be treated upon arrival at the station. I explain that operating on level A or B will prompt the authorities to BOSS the person—under the premise that the person behaving on these levels only obeys someone who has or uses greater authority.

However, if the person chooses one of the higher levels, that person will be treated with respect. As a result, life will be much easier for all concerned.

I emphasize to the person to be aware that the level chosen is the PERSON’S OWN CHOICE and that this choice will have an effect upon how he/she is treated by the police officers when we arrive at the station.

I ask if the person is enjoying MY being in control of their situation or whether the person would rather be in control of him/herself. Most of the time the answer is the same: “I don’t like this, and I want to be in control.” I then explain each level and the consequences for choosing each level.

When they see that their behavior is at the bullying level—and then that the authority figure must in turn exercise this level on them—they realize that they really want to be at the cooperation or responsibility level.

I get them to commit to that verbally and then have them teach me what cooperation looks like to them. I repeat to them that they admitted not liking to be controlled by me or others. They again repeat this answer verbally. I ask again if they are sure that they want to control their own future decisions.

I then ask what they really wanted when they acted irresponsibly. The answers vary to this question. I have heard many intimate things in this portion of the conversation.

Before I leave them, I tell every person with whom I have this interaction, “You are in control of your decisions. You are in control of the outcome.” I ask them to reflect on this experience for three weeks.

Of everyone who has done this, I never see them or hear about them again.

—Frank Spino, Grant Joint Union High School District, Sacramento, California

Tip: The Levels of Development have so many applications, both inside and outside the classroom. Watch these videos for more information. Then, if you haven’t already, review the topic in the book Discipline Without Stress.


For more information regarding living your life without stress, visit

To have Dr. Marvin Marshall speak at your next event, visit

To handle every discipline problem simply and easily, visit

To view Dr. Marshall’s award-winning line of books, visit