Motivating the Unmotivated by YIMO682

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									 Motivating the


         By Chick Moorman

           October 8, 2007
      Oak Harbor School District
         Teaching & Learning in Action

                    P.O. Box 547, Merrill, MI 48637
 989-643-5059   ● ●



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                Diagnosis Form

     Students       Power        Models   Connectiveness








                      Power Definition
      Having the ____________, the __________________,

      and the __________________________ to influence

      the circumstances of one‘s own life.

Behaviors That Indicate a Problem with Power

1.    Often ______________ and excessively ______________.

2.    Frequently act ______________.

3.    Control through _____________ or ______________.

4.    Avoid being ______ ___________________ of others.

5.    React poorly to ___________________.

6.    Avoid taking _________________ and ________________ others.

7.    Do not exercise __________________.

8.    Avoid tasks that are ______________________.

9.    Lack ________________ ________________.

10.   Use __________________________ language.

11.   Use ―________________ ________________‖ excuses.

12.   Withhold ______________ that others need.

13.   Undermine ___________________ that others make.

14.   Unilaterally _________________ _________________.

15.   Take ______________ for the _______________________ of others.

16.   Are excessively _____________ of others‘ ________________.

17.   Have trouble _____________ ___________________.

18.   Don‘t _______________ _________________.

19.   Create _________________.

                    Models Definition
      Once must be able to refer to adequate ____________ in

      order to establish meaningful ______________, __________,

      and _________________ ________________.

Behaviors That Indicate a Problem with Mental

1.    Do not respond well to ________________.

2.    _____________ ________________.

3.    Get ____________ easily.

4.    ______________ and _______________ with self and materials.

5.    Usually not well ______________________________.

6.    Often do not _________ ___________ ______________.

7.    Have difficult time deciding _______________ ___________

8.    Do not seem to be ______________ in any ________________.

9.    __________ _______________ about what they want ________
      __________ _____________ _________________.

10.   Surface ___________________.

11.   Often insist there is only one _____________ __________ _____
      ______ __________________.

12.   May have ________________ standards.

13.   Often act ____________ to the ethical standards they espouse.

14.   Confuse impulsive __________ with __________ they have agreed

15.   Keep ____________________ _____________________.

16.   Become _________________ around others.

            Connectiveness Definition
      A sense of ________________, _______________ or

      __________________ to people that are important to me.

Students with a connectiveness problem . . .

1.    Make little effort to __________________________.

2.    Are not involved in _________________________.

3.    Spend quite a bit of time ____________________.

4.    Are reluctant to ______________________.

5.    Are _____________ and have few or no _______________.

6.    Are ____________ by other students.

7.    Often actively avoid ___________________ or _______________

8.    Don‘t _________________ to help you.

9.    Are ______________ around _____________________.

10.   More often relate to ____________________ than

11.   ______________ to others, not letting them know how he or she
      ________________ or __________________.

12.   Avoid ___________________.

13.   Talk about family, race, or ethnic group _______________

14.   Withhold _______________ of others. Are more ____________ than

15.   Deny that they have a _________________ to or sense of
      ______________________ to ______________.

16.   Are uncomfortable about _____________ or being

                  POWER STRATEGIES

  Power Strategy #1

Use these three special words to provide controlled

                                    De cide

            Choose                                         Pick

The essential strategy in helping students become empowered is promoting
their ability to make decisions. Any decision we can get them to make
successfully adds a small increment to their sense of personal power.

Offering students a choice invites them to exercise control and participate in
self-management. Choice-making opportunities enable students to experience
and see the control they have. When you give students choices you are
empowering them.


“You can choose to write from the perspective of General Grant or General

Examples of Controlled Choices
1.    For language arts, place three pictures on the chalkboard and have
      students choose one to write about.

2.    Give students four different ways to study their chapter terms.

3.    Make a math assignment that requires completing either the odd-
      numbered or even-numbered problems.

4.    Detail what needs to be included in a social studies report and allow
      students to choose the topics.

5.    Require a science project that must include one of three different topics.

6.    Give students two choices for how to make up work missed while absent.

7.    Let students do a demonstration speech on a subject of their choice.

8.    Let students pick which essay question to answer on a test.

9.    Require that students mind map or outline a chapter.

10.   Ask students to read one of three articles and write a report.

11.   Require students to interview a person of their own choice.

12.   Allow cooperative groups to choose to do a skit, write a commercial, or
      create an advertisement to demonstrate their learning.

13.   Let each lab group decide which of three different experiments to

14.   __________________________________________________________


16.   __________________________________________________________


17.   __________________________________________________________


  Power Strategy #2

Use choose, decide, and pick to help students see the
choices they are making.
In many daily situations students do not see themselves as responsible. They
blame the other person, saying things such as ―He made me do it.‖ They
disown their problems, saying, ―It‘s not my fault.‖ In many cases students are
not aware at a conscious level that they are making a choice. Our job as
teachers is to confront them gently by pointing out their choices and bringing
them to consciousness.

If you tell students to leave a class meeting because of repeated distracting
side conversations, they will sometimes react as though you made them leave.
They believe that it was your choice. It is time to help students change their
minds about their responses and see the connections between their behavior
and its consequences. It is time to help them realize that they made a choice
about leaving a class meeting and that they have communicated that choice to
you through their behavior. It is also time to help them know that they can
make other choices and return when they choose to live by the classroom
protocol of no side conversations.


“I see you chose to ignore her when she teased you.”

Helping children perceive the choices they make is important. You let them
know you know they are choosing when you use Teacher Talk that contains the
words choose, decide, and pick.

Examples of using choose, decide, and pick to notice choices
or inquire about choices

1.    ―I noticed that you chose to feel angry during physical education class

2.    ―I‘m wondering what grade you will choose to earn this semester.‖

3.    ―So you decided to switch your report from Magellan to Balboa.‖

4.    ―What behavior did you pick when the assembly ran over?‖

5.    ―Looks like you choose to start over.‖

6.    ―How many of you chose to review your notes last night?‖

7.    ―What degree of effort did you pick when completing your paper?‖

8.    ―I see you decided to work with Carlos.‖

9.    ―Apparently, you decided to be on time every day this week.‖

10.   ―I see you bit the hook when Anita challenged you.‖

11.   ―What attitude did you pick when the problems got tougher?‖

12.   ―I noticed you picked words to tell him about your frustration.‖

            Choose/Decide/Pick in Action
Repeated use of the words ―choose,‖ ―decide,‖ and ―pick‖ helps students
realize that they are responsible for their reactions to the what is of their lives.
Follow along in this scenario as a skilled teacher uses effective Teacher Talk to
confront a student. Notice how the teacher responds to the child‘s efforts to
deflect responsibility for his actions and reactions.

      ―I heard you chose to end up in the principal‘s office yesterday.‖

      ―Roberto ripped my coat!‖

      ―And how did you choose to respond?‖

      ―I can‘t let him get away with something like that.‖

      ―So what behavior did you pick?‖

      ―He made me mad!‖

      ―So you decided to do what?‖

      ―He started the whole thing.‖

      ―And you chose to respond with . . .?‖

      Repetition of this style of language is the key to producing change.

Used by permission from Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child’s
Spirit, by Chick Moorman.

Use choose/decide/pick until you‘re sick of hearing yourself say those words.
Then say them some more.

 Power Strategy #3

Use choose, decide, and pick to formulate
Students don‘t always see the connection between the choices they make and
the results which follow. By using Teacher Talk that includes
choose/decide/pick you help them take ownership for the consequences that
flow from their choices.

     ―If you decide to turn it in on Monday, you‘ll have chosen to receive the
     grade you earned. If you decide to turn it in after Monday, you‘ll receive
     one grade lower than the grade you earned.‖

      ―If you two decide to keep talking, you‘ll be deciding to sit apart.‖

      ―If you decide to get this in by Thursday, you‘ll have decided to have me
     sign your eligibility slip. If you choose not to turn it in by then, you‘ll
     have chosen not to wrestle this weekend.‖

     When you implement consequences, continue to use
     choose/decide/pick Teacher Talk.
―You two boys have shown me by your behavior that you have chosen not to
sit by each other for a while.‖

―I see you decided to bring your book back. That means you‘ve chosen to be
able to pick a new one.‖

   Power Strategy #4

              “Please make a different choice.”

―I‘m being distracted by that noise in the back of the room. Please make a
different choice.‖

―Sharpening pencils is not appropriate at this time. Please make a different

―If you‘re standing next to someone you can‘t sit by at the assembly without
distracting others, please make a new choice.‖


―You always have more choices than you think you have.‖

    Power Strategy #5

Use Freedom Phrases.

Many times throughout the day students ask questions that place the teacher
in the role of decision maker. They ask things such as:

      ―May I sharpen my pencil now?‖
      ―Will this book qualify for extra credit?‖
      ―Is it okay if I ask Beth to help me?‖

With a simple yes or no, the teacher can answer these common questions
quickly and efficiently, or use them as opportunities to empower students. If
you use a Freedom Phrase such as ―You decide,‖ you can effectively place
decision-making responsibilities on students. ―You decide‖ frees the teacher
from an authoritarian role by encouraging shared control of the classroom and
by getting students in touch with their personal power.

Use the Freedom Phrase, ―You decide,‖ only when your answer to a student‘s
question would be yes. If it is not okay for the student to ask Beth for help, or
if it is not a time when you want students sharpening pencils, simply say no.
Since you feel strongly about the issue, this is not a time to let students
decide. On the other hand, if your inclination is to say yes, then this is an
appropriate time to use language that leaves the decision to the child. ―You
decide‖ creates an opportunity for students to practice making decisions. It
gives them the freedom to make choices. It provides an opportunity for them
to experience their own power and to exercise independence.

Other Freedom Phrases that work well:

      ―It‘s up to you.‖
      ―It‗s your choice.‖
      ―You choose.‖
      ―You can pick.‖
      ―You get to decide.‖
      ―You make that decision.‖
      ―I‘m comfortable with whatever you decide.‖

Adding a Condition to Freedom Phrases

Add a condition to the Freedom Phrase, ―You decide,‖ to help students develop
their decision-making ability.


Q. ―May I sharpen my pencils now?‖
A. ―If you can do it without disturbing the reading group. You decide.‖

Q. ―Will this book qualify for extra credit?‖
A. ―If it tells about someone you respect and admire. You decide.‖

Q. ―May I go to the library now?‖
A. ―My concern is that you be back here at 11:15. You choose.‖

When you qualify ―You decide,‖ you give students criteria. They must think.
They have something concrete on which to base their decisions. You help them
simultaneously develop both their choice-making ability and their thinking

Regardless of the phrase you choose, the message to students is one of
respect. You are telling them, ―I trust your judgment. You are capable of
making many of your own decisions. You know what is best for you and for our

   Power Strategy #6

Use three more special words.


                                                          Challe nge

   TT          “Thank you for taking a risk.”

To encourage your students to stretch and accept the risk of self-challenge,
add the cue words risk, challenge, and stretch to your Teacher Talk.

―Thank you for taking a risk‖ is one statement you can use to encourage your
students to stretch themselves. Use it when students volunteer answers during
discussions, when they participate in new activities, or whenever they show a
willingness to make an attempt to do something. Here are some variations of
―Thank you for taking a risk‖ that will help you to invite students to accept a

     ―Who would be willing to take a risk on this one?‖

     ―I would like five people who would risk responding to this problem.‖

     ―That was some stretch you attempted. Thanks.‖

     ―Who feels like accepting a challenge today?‖

     ―Let‘s all risk putting our ideas on paper.‖

  Power Strategy #7

Use Risk Pads to encourage students to take risks.

                                  Risk Pads

Risk (or Stretch) Pads are a tool that will support your language patterns and
encourage risk taking among students at any grade level. We recently
observed a middle-school math teacher using them with her eighth-graders.
After she had completed a direct teaching lesson on a new concept, she asked
students to get out their Risk Pads. She put a sample problem on the board
and challenged them with the following words: “Take a risk with this one. Work
it out on your Risk Pads. Let’s see what we can learn from your risk.”

This teacher‘s language and behavior validated students who were willing to
stretch themselves. Through the use of special pads with a special name, she
legitimized taking risks and accepting challenges in her classroom.

Throughout their school years and their lives, people must be willing to step
out of the safety and security of the familiar in order to make changes
necessary for growth and learning. You can help students increase their
willingness to take those steps by choosing language that encourages and
validates their efforts, by using Risk Pads, and by modeling your own
willingness to risk growth. Even though the ideas in this seminar may be new
for you, put them into practice anyway. Take a risk.

 Power Strategy #8

  TT           “Please make a BE choice.”

“Who do you want to be?”

     Being gives birth to doing.

Although you may not always choose what you get to do in this class, you can
always decide how you want to be.

 Power Strategy #9

Employ attribute theory.
Students who feel unempowered attribute the things that happen to them in
their lives to luck, magic, circumstance, being in the wrong place at the wrong
time, or no cause of their own. They make statements such as:

     ―She gave me a B.‖
     ―I sure was fortunate.‖
     ―My teacher doesn‘t like athletes.‖
     ―She has brains.‖
     ―His dad‘s a teacher.‖

Students with a strong inner sense of personal power attribute the things that
happen to them to effort, energy, persistence, study, commitment, and
behaviors over which they have some control. They make statements such as:

     ―I chose a C.‖
     ―He studied harder than I did.‖
     ―My preparation was thorough.‖
     ―I‘ll stick to it until I get it.‖

                    Attribute Awareness Ideas
The following activities can be used with students to help them see and feel the
role they play in creating their own experience. Each activity gives them a
lesson in cause (their choice) and effect (the result their choice produces). The
goal is to increase students‘ personal power by helping them perceive how they
can be the cause of much of what happens in their lives.

Attributes List

What attributes do you possess that will work with this assignment? List them
here. Be prepared to share the one that will be the most valuable to you.

1.    __________________________________________________________

2.    __________________________________________________________

3.    __________________________________________________________

4.    __________________________________________________________

Steps to Success

Have each student put the grade he or she wants this semester in the box.
Then ask students what steps they could take to achieve those grades. They
add that information under or on the feet of the diagram.


This activity fits well with the Teacher Talk phrases:

      ―What steps can you take?‖
      ―What did you do to get there?‖
      ―What is one step you could take in that direction?‖

Control Factors

List three factors over which you have no control on this project.

1.    __________________________________________________________

2.    __________________________________________________________

3.    __________________________________________________________

Find a portion of each factor that you could control. If you cannot think of any,
ask classmates until you get answers. Write them below.

Cause and Effect Diagram

Fill in the diagram below, using a recent term paper, test, project, game, study
period, book report, etc., as the topic. This diagram also can be used for a bus
altercation, detention, irresponsible behavior at an assembly, etc.

         Cause                                         Effect

       I chose . . .

       I chose . . .

       I chose . . .

       I chose . . .

Project Map

1.   Rank the arrowed factors below in terms of how much control you had
     over each as it relates to this project. The a is most control and i is least

             Effort                                            Time


     Intelligence                Project                            Grammar




      a. _________________________ f. _________________________

      b. ________________________           g. _________________________

      c. ________________________           h. _________________________

      d. _________________________ i. __________________________

      e. _________________________

2.    Which ones would you choose to take more control of next time? Why?

           Teacher Talk and Attribute Awareness

             ―What do you attribute that to?‖

Increase your students‘ sense of personal power and get attribute
awareness working in their lives with Teacher Talk phrases that help them
see the connection between their efforts (cause) and the results that follow

      ―You got an A in science? To what do you attribute that?‖

      ―You got the job? Wonderful. How did you accomplish that?‖

      ―So your dad says you are grounded. How did you produce that result?‖

      ―What is something you could have done to alter the ending?‖

      ―What are some steps you could have taken to change the outcome?‖

      ―If you want to change the outcome, you have to change the input.‖

      ―How did you contribute to that result?‖

      ―What is something you had control over that you could do differently
      next time?‖

In this technique, you structure your Teacher Talk to help students focus on
their own efforts, actions, choices, and attitudes. You can use it to help
students with both the positive and negative effects in their lives.

           ―So you made the team. To what do you attribute that?‖
        ―So you got cut from the team. To what do you attribute that?‖

   ―You were in the Responsibility room twice today? What do you do to get
                     assigned to the responsibility room?‖
     ―No Responsibility room today. What do you do to stay out of there?‖

Using Teacher Talk empowers students by helping them see themselves ―as
cause‖ in their lives. It helps them step out of a victim stance and take charge.

                Attribute Theory and Motivation

                             By Chick Moorman

―He didn‘t ask the right questions on the test.‖
―I would have done better if I‘d worn my lucky shirt.‖
―I‘m no good at math.‖
―She didn‘t explain the assignment well enough.‖

Students who uttered the comments above have one thing in common. They
fail to see the connections among effort, success, and failure. They attribute
their results to someone or something other than themselves.

That‘s where attribute theory comes in. Attribute theory aims to help students
link their successes and failures to their own efforts.

Attributions are the factors that one believes are responsible for their achieving
success or experiencing failure. Today‘s attributions are important because
they affect the future actions and expectations of students.

Students who often fail are likely to attribute the result to lack of ability, bad
luck, or difficulty of the task. In essence they see the failure as something over
which they had no control.

Successful students often attribute that success to effort, energy, amount of
study time, persistence, reading the material, or taking effective notes. They
see their success as something they can influence.

Attributions can be characterized as internal or external and as stable or
unstable. The depiction of internal/external has to do with the student‘s belief
about what caused the success or failure. They can believe it was something
inside of them that created the success, or they can believe it was some
outside factor. Stable/unstable has to do with the student‘s pattern of failure
and its degree of consistency.

If Jason bombs a spelling test and has done so frequently, the attributions he
assigns to that failure may well be internal/stable. He holds himself responsible
(internal) and believes he will never be able to spell well (stable). When
working with students like Jason, it is not enough to have them experience
success. They may attribute that success to luck or an accident. If so, they will
not expect success in the future.

External attributions are luck, circumstance, magic: ―I was in the wrong place
at the wrong time,‖ or ―The teacher didn‘t ask the right questions on the test.‖

With an external attribution the result is attributed to something outside of
one‘s self.

Unstable means changing. Thus the attribute would not be my intelligence,
since that is relatively fixed. I attribute my success to my mood that day, since
that changes frequently.

Arranging your classroom so that students experience success is an important
first step in getting attribute theory to work for you. This means setting it up
so that students CAN experience success. This does not mean arranging a
lesson so that students WILL be successful, because some choose not to. It
does have to do with arranging it so that success is a perceived possibility.

Another, more important, step occurs when a student realizes she or he
personally contributed to that success. Just being successful is not enough!
Students must see the cause and effect connection between their behavior and
the outcome of a success in order to experience the maximum benefit of it.

Skillfully designed Teacher Talk can help students link effort, strategies, and
ability with results.

Some Examples:

―Madison, this is your highest test score. I guess that extra practice had an

―Latrell, that final revision put you over the top. It shows you really have
learned to write in complete sentences.‖

―Pablo, your test score went up again. Using note cards seems to work for you
as a study aid.‖

―Brenda, choosing not to complete the make-up assignments hurt your grade
this time.‖

―I see your handwriting is becoming more legible. To what do you attribute

Often students don‘t know why they failed or succeeded. When you use
Teacher Talk to give performance feedback that helps students link results with
effort, strategy, or ability, you help them take responsibility in the present and
raise expectations for the future. You then have attribute theory working for
you and your students.

Power Strategy #10

Employ the “I Can’t” antidote.


1.    __________________ as __________.

2.    _____________________.

3.    ________________ like.

4.    ___________________ it ‗till you _______________ __________.

5.    If you _______________ ___________ _____________, what would

      _______________ ______________?

Power Strategy #11

Behave calmly and consistently.
Do not overreact to the loud, boisterous students. Their goal is to get you
angry so they can focus on your anger rather than on their reaction in the
situation. They are also invested in having you blow it and then feel guilty.

                        The Best/Worst Class
                              By Chick Moorman

(Names and places have been changed in the article below for reasons that will
soon become apparent.)

Mary Sutherland teaches science to seventh-graders in a large suburban school
district in Michigan. Like many Michigan teachers, Mary had attended one of
my Teacher Talk seminars and heard me suggest that teachers add "Act as if"
to their teacher talk repertoire. When students look up from their desks and
whine, "I can't do it" or "I don't get it," I recommend teachers reply, "Act as if
you can," "Pretend like you know how," or "Play like you are an expert."

While this strategy doesn't work with every student and it doesn't work every
time, it does help many youngsters get off their "I can't" stance and take
action. ―Acting as if‖ gets students moving, gets them doing something. Helpful
correction and direction by the teacher follows.

Over the past few years, teachers have shared with me how they have used
this strategy successfully with students who were working on long division,
dividing fractions, and looking up material on the Internet. Educators have
reported success with six-year-olds tying shoes, sophomores demonstrating
neck springs in physical education class, and a middle-schooler preparing to
give a demonstration speech. Although the applications of this technique have
been as varied and as personal as the teachers who have used it, no one has
applied "act as if" in quite the same way as Mary Sutherland.

Mary's first-hour science class is her favorite. The students in that first-hour
homeroom class are challenging and assertive. Mary enjoys both their energy
and their spirit.

Most of Mary's first-hour students move on to social studies class during their
second period. Occasionally, her first-hour students complain about second
hour and their social studies teacher, saying, "She's boring," and "She doesn't
seem like she enjoys teaching." One youngster asked, "Would you go talk to
her and tell her to make class more interesting?"

During these times, Mary simply listens and reflects the feelings and content of
her students‘ comments without taking a position one way or the other. She
listens as they vent and attempts neither to encourage nor discourage the

Mary has a third-hour planning period, which she often spends in the teachers‘
lounge enjoying coffee as she relaxes, plans, or corrects papers. Also having a
third-hour planning time is Mrs. Millman, the social studies teacher about
whom Mary‘s first-hour students frequently complain.

Guess what Mrs. Millman, the social studies teacher, does during her planning
period. That's right. She complains about her second-hour class. Mrs. Millman
does not share the same degree of affection for the students that Mary has
first hour, and she lets her opinion be known to anyone present in the
teachers‘ lounge following second hour. "How do you stand them?" she once
asked Mary. "They‘re so noisy and can't concentrate for any length of time."

It didn't take Mary long to realize she was caught in a squeeze play. First hour
she often heard from students how awful their second-hour teacher was and
third hour she frequently heard from the teacher how awful her second-hour
students were. After a few days of this cross-venting, Mary realized she had to
do something. She figured she had two choices. She could work with her
students or she could work with the teacher. She chose the students.

"I took a workshop a couple of weeks ago," Mary explained to her first-hour
class the next day. "The presenter told us about a strategy he called, ACT AS
IF. He said that if you ACT AS IF you can, you can actually alter the way you
look at the world and often change certain situations for the better." Mary gave
a few examples and then monitored a lengthy discussion on the topic.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Mary challenged her students to use the
strategy on Mrs. Millman during their second-hour class. "What do you think
would happen," she asked, "if you all went in there for two weeks and acted as
if her class was the most interesting class you ever attended?‖

The student responses came quickly.

"We couldn't do that."
"That's impossible."
"You don't know how boring it is in there."
"She'll never change!"

"It's just two weeks," Mary argued. "Maybe it won't make a difference, but at
least we can check out this technique and see if it would work in this
impossible case. How about doing it for just two weeks?" The students resisted
and Mary persisted. Eventually the students agreed to go along with the plan
for two weeks as part of a science experiment. They would go to their second -
hour class acting as if they loved it for ten school days, documenting both their
individual and the teacher's reactions and behaviors.

Before they began, each student described in writing how he or she currently
viewed the class. Each student detailed the intervention he or she planned on
making (acting as if he or she liked the class) and wrote a hypothesis
concerning the experience, predicting the outcome. The ―acting as if‖ strategy
was discussed and role-played. Students decided that acting as if you liked a
class meant you sat up straight, gave solid eye contact, smiled at the teacher,
asked related questions, and participated during discussions. It also meant
doing all homework assigned by the teacher.

At the end of the first week, students reported no change in their views of the
class. The teacher seemed basically the same, and the class was still boring.
Several students did mention, though, that they had done better on the
chapter test because they had been paying closer attention to the lecture and

During the second week, Mrs. Millman brought to school Chinese souvenirs and
artifacts from her home. "My second-hour students seem to be behaving
better," she told Mary during their Monday planning time. "I think I'll take a
risk with them and do a couple of special things this week and see how it

On Wednesday of the second week, Mrs. Millman brought in Chinese finger-
food she had prepared at home and fortune cookies. The class asked related
questions about the food and continued to act as if they were interested. Mrs.
Millman noted the changed behavior and continued to mention it in the
teachers' lounge.

At the end of the two week trial period, students voted to extend the
experiment for another week. "Mrs. Millman seems a lot nicer," one student
offered. Many students agreed that the class was getting more interesting.
Other students reported that Mrs. Millman was smiling more in class and had
stopped yelling.

At the end of the third week the students turned in their individual science
reports on ACT AS IF. All reported that the strategy had helped change their
social studies teacher's behavior.

In the staff lounge, Mrs. Millman was heard to announce, "I've finally turned
the corner with that second-hour class. It took me awhile, but I finally got
them where I want them."

To this date, Mary Sutherland has not confessed her efforts with the science
project to her colleague, Mrs. Millman. That's probably just as well.

Power Strategy #12

Move UP before you move IN.

One important aspect of managing students low in power is learning to move
UP in your consciousness before you move IN with your action. When your
third-grader spills paint, when your eighth-grader uses inappropriate language,
when your history student burps loudly in class—action is called for. To insure
that the action you take flows from love as well as from logic, pause. Take
three deep breaths and actively change your frame of mind before you

To help you move UP before you move IN, I recommend six strategies:

1.   Talk to yourself before you talk to the student.
2.   Make a BE choice before you make a DO choice.
3.   See it all as perfect.
4.   Accept that what is, is.
5.   Make no assumptions.

1. Make a BE choice before you make a DO choice.

As educators, we make DO choices regularly. Activities we sometimes decide to
do with our students include reading a story, giving assignments, reassigning
seats, and giving a test. We are all familiar with making a DO choice. Not as
familiar to many teachers is the concept of making a BE choice. A BE choice
occurs when you purposefully choose how you are going to BE when you do
whatever it is that you decide to do.

When reading a story, for instance, you could choose to BE silly, emphatic,
serious, demonstrative, quick, humorous, childlike, or lively. How you choose
to BE will dramatically alter the experience of the story. If you don‘t think so,
be silly one time and serious the next. You will feel and see the difference and
the impact each choice has on your students.

If the task is to discuss poor grades on a report card with your student, that‘s
your DO choice. I suggest you decide how you want to BE before you activate
your DO choice of engaging in the discussion. You could choose to be firm,
confrontational, empathetic, sincere, friendly, loving, surprised, thorough,
open-minded, inquisitive, or a variety of other options. By making a BE choice,

you shape your experience of discussing the report card. Your behavior will
flow from your choice of how to BE and adjust to fit that form. In essence, you
have managed your mind to create a desired result.

2. Talk to yourself before you talk to the child.

By paying attention to your thoughts and purposefully shaping the
conversation you have with yourself, you take charge of your attitude, your
energy, and your relationship to the teaching moment that is before you.

Using encouraging self-talk is one way to effectively take charge and manage
your own mind. Encouraging self-talk helps you to create the frame of mind
you desire rather than leave that important function to chance. For example:

      ―I don‘t have to take this personally. The student‘s choices do not mean
      that I‘m a good teacher or a bad one. This isn‘t about me. It‘s about him
      and where he currently is on the learning curve.‖

      ―The behavior is age appropriate. Ten-year-olds tease and taunt, and
      little kids wiggle. Teenagers activate power struggles. Even though I
      don‘t like this particular behavior, it‘s normal for the student‘s age.‖

      ―Helpful lessons spring from uncomfortable situations. This situation has
      the potential to create learning and healing for me and this student.‖

Refuse to let whatever thoughts initially spring into your mind control you
when a potentially stressful teaching situation presents itself. Notice your
thoughts and change them if you choose. You can rise above any situation and
bring calm and peace to it by using helpful self-talk. Activate this mind skill
often to help you become the teacher you truly want to be.

3. See it all as perfect.

Another mind management technique you can use to move UP in your
consciousness is to choose to see your present circumstance as perfect.

If you have a guest speaker and students act respectfully, it‘s perfect. If you
have a guest speaker and students act disrespectfully, that‘s perfect too. Your
students are providing you with the perfect data you need to help you create
the perfect learning experience or design the perfect debriefing questions to
help them examine the issue of respect and their choices surrounding it.

If all of your students pass the chapter test on Westward Expansion, that‘s

perfect. If half your students bomb the test, that too is perfect. You now have
the perfect information you need to design the perfect logical consequence
resulting from their decision concerning the amount of time relegated to study.

Choose to view these events as opportunities for you to practice moving UP
before you move IN. They are the perfect situations you need to help you
practice this skill. Welcome them.

4. Accept that what is, is.

Another ―Move UP before you move IN‖ technique is to accept that what is, is.
If you find yourself thinking that things should be other than they are—that
your students should be different, that they should know better, or that you
should have done something differently—you are emotionally resisting and
fighting what is.

The fact is that your kindergarten students did decorate the bathroom wall with
permanent markers. That‘s what is. The wall is the wall and it is covered with
permanent marker.

Yes, work to make changes on the physical level. Teach the necessary lessons
to encourage that different markers be used on a different surface next time.
Involve your students in cleanup. Implement appropriate consequences if
necessary. Dealing with the situation on the physical level is important and
necessary—and that part of teaching can be handled more effectively when
you emotionally accept your present-moment circumstances.

5. Make no assumptions.

Beware of the assumption trap. As adults, we think we know. We think we
know why the student lied to us. We think we know what she is thinking. We
think we know what he is about to do next. We think we know who began the
argument in the cooperative group. To move UP before you move IN, free your
mind of assumptions.

Allowing assumptions to control your mind leads to conflict and
misunderstanding. To manage your mind effectively in important teaching
situations, it‘s necessary to refrain from making assumptions. Tell yourself: ―I
may not know for sure what is going on here. I will keep an open mind.
Understanding is my top priority.‖ Keep your commitment to manage your
mind first by entering crucial parenting moments free of assumptions.

                  Move UP before You Move IN
                               By Chick Moorman

David Helter didn't enjoy the note he found on his desk following his absence.
He had left his sixth-grade classroom for one day to improve his professional
practice by attending my Teaching for Respect and Responsibility seminar. He
returned the next day and found the following communiqué written by the
substitute teacher:

"I had a very frustrating day. I found your class of sixth-graders to be
immature and disrespectful. I had trouble quieting them down, their listening
skills seemed nonexistent, and they frequently put each other down. I gave
two students detention notices. Brandon Haller and Justin Semanski refused to
cooperate, and I finally sent them to the office. Although they were the biggest
troublemakers, several other students contributed to the overall negative
atmosphere. Some students were cooperative and respectful, but not many.
You sure have your hands full here. Good luck the rest of the year."

David read the note three times. He had no trouble visualizing the picture
painted by the substitute teacher. Each time he read it, his anger climbed to a
new level.

Possible punishments and penalties rushed through his mind. Fragments of
lecture bursts formed as he mulled over how to respond to the situation
created by his eleven- and twelve-year-old students. As he waited for them to
arrive for class that morning, David prepared himself to move in with the
words and actions that he felt his students deserved. But it was at this point
that he recalled something he had learned at the professional development
seminar the day before: Move UP before you move IN.

Although the "Move UP before you move IN" concept had been new to him,
David immediately recognized it as a strategy he could use. He knew it could
help him be the type of teacher—the type of person—he really wanted to be.
While learning it, however, he had no idea he would be putting it to use so

What David learned at the seminar was this: Before you move in to deal with a
situation, it is important to take time to move up . . . to a higher
consciousness, to a higher self. He knew he would have to rise above this
particular situation in order to avoid taking it personally. He realized he would
have to raise his consciousness in order to free himself from the emotional
snarl he had felt when he first read the note. He knew that if he didn't want to
add the energy of frustration and anger to the mix, he would have to detach
emotionally from the situation. Not wanting to create a struggle, he decided
that the most effective way to stay off the battlefield was to rise above it.
David decided to "move UP" before he "moved IN."

He took the last few minutes before his class arrived to put the skills he had
learned the day before into practice. He reminded himself not to take this
scenario personally. "This is not about me," he told himself. "This is about my
students—their behaviors, their beliefs, their choices. It is not a reflection on
my teaching or on who I am as a human being." He knew that if he could
disconnect his ego from the events that had transpired he would be more likely
to respond to his students' needs and motivations rather than to his own
unconscious need to influence their actions.

Using another newly acquired skill, David decided to see the situation as
perfect. "It's all perfect," he repeated to himself a few times. If his students
had been respectful and cooperative, he reasoned, that would have been
perfect—the perfect time to celebrate and congratulate them for their
behavioral choices. Since they had chosen to be disrespectful and
uncooperative, that was perfect, too. It was the perfect time to help them look
at their behaviors and learn from them. David knew that if he told himself the
situation was terrible, awful, and a pain to deal with, he would not be moving
up in consciousness. But by realizing the situation was indeed perfect, he
continued to ascend.

"What is, is," David thought to himself. He remembered that any time spent
wishing, hoping, or "shoulding" ("things should be different") was time that
would not be invested in solving the problem. He knew he had to accept the
"isness" of the situation emotionally before he could effectively search for
solutions to improve it.

From his newly created perspective of not taking the situation personally,
realizing that it was perfect, and refusing to resist it emotionally, David quickly
created a few ideas to present to his class. When the bell rang and his students
began filing in, he was ready.

"Please take out a piece of paper," David directed after the morning routines
were completed. "I have several questions I want to ask you concerning the
events that transpired yesterday when the sub was here. Please respond by
writing your responses.

David used the overhead projector to create a continuum numbered from 1 to
10. "Rate yourself on this Respect Scale," he suggested. "Ten means you were
respectful the entire day. Zero means you were totally disrespectful. Place an X
where you feel you personally belong on the scale. Then write a two-sentence
explanation that tells why you placed yourself where you did on the continuum.

"Now do the same thing on another continuum," he continued. "Only this time,
think in terms of the entire class. How respectful was the class to the
substitute teacher? Once again, give me a two-sentence explanation.‖

"Next, complete the following three sentence starters.‖

I was being respectful when . . .
I was being disrespectful when . . .
One thing I could do to be more respectful next time is . . .

David sat back and watched as his sixth-graders struggled with the thinking
skills he had set before them. The point of the assignment—self-appraisal, self-
evaluation, and self-reflection—was to help his students become conscious of
their behaviors on the previous day.

When the students had finished writing their responses, David put them in
groups to compare and contrast answers. He then heard a report from a
spokesperson from each group. Following the reports, David asked students to
generate a class list of what they had learned during the activity. The list

Some of us were more respectful than others.
Most of us could have been more respectful.
Some students use a substitute teacher as an excuse to act up.
Substitute teachers overreact.
One student's behavior can reflect on the entire class.
We can do better.
It’s easier to behave when Mr. Helter is here.

With the list complete, David had each student begin a Respect and
Responsibility notebook. Their first entries included their personal responses to
the self-appraisal debriefing questions and the class's list of what they had
learned. He then had his sixth-graders add a paragraph detailing what they
intended to do differently next time.

The debriefing now complete, David moved on to social studies. Before he did
so, however, he paused a moment to give himself a mental pat on the back to
acknowledge his efforts to put what he had learned at the seminar into
practice. He liked what he had chosen to do, he liked who he had chosen to be,
and he liked the results. He was grateful that he had learned to move UP
before he moved IN.

Power Strategy #13

Teach conflict resolution.
Help students be aware of how they make decisions. Point out the choices they
are making. Spend time with them to clarify their decisions and the
consequences of those decisions.

Teach and use decision-making processes. There is a close correlation between
democratic processes and a sense of power.

      Voting
      Consensus seeking
      Using representatives

Teach children to solve problems, and provide a broad range of problems for
them to solve. Give them the opportunity to work out their own solutions, but
also show them methods for attacking problems. Give them real decisions to
make. Teach them to identify problems and carry out their own plans of action.

Give them a solution-seeking process:

      Define the problem.
      List alternatives.
      Reach consensus.
      Implement the plan.
      Evaluate later.

Model the search for solutions.

               ―Every problem has a solution.‖

Power Strategy #14

Involve students in the process of evaluation and

Evaluation is a power issue. The one who evaluates has the power. It sets up a
big me/little you relationship.

Way to involve students:

     Dear Teacher:
     I am turning in the following creative writing lesson:
     Below is what I think of this paper
                                   LOW                         HIGH
             Neatness              1      2       3      4     5
             Humor                 1      2       3      4     5
             Interest              1      2       3      4     5
             Punctuation           1      2       3      4     5
             Effort                1      2       3      4     5
     If I were marking this paper, I would give it a grade of ______


Teacher-Student Collaboration

      Evaluation of _________________‘s behavior               Date: __________________

                                          Completed by: ____________________________

      1   = Outstanding             Responsibility _____
      2   – High
      3   = Adequate                Interest _____
      4   = Acceptable
      5   = Inadequate              Relationships with other students _____

                                    Relationship with teacher _____

                                    Overall rating ______

      Comments at teacher-child conference time:

               (One copy completed by student, one copy completed by teacher)


Rate the video. Explain to students your goals in showing it. Let them help to
evaluate its effectiveness.

 Evaluation Form
 (Circle the one you agree with.)

              INTERESTING                        NOT   INTERESTING
              THIRD-GRADE LEVEL                  NOT   THIRD-GRADE LEVEL
              WELL PHOTOGRAPHED                  NOT   WELL PHOTOGRAPHED
              USEFUL                             NOT   USEFUL
              HUMOROUS                           NOT   HUMOROUS

 Do you think I should show it next year? YES    NO    NO OPINION

 What did you most enjoy about this video? ______________________________________



 What did you least enjoy about this video? _______________________________________



Concern. My students don‘t evaluate themselves accurately. Many kids turn in
lousy papers and rate them as good.

Reply. Children won‘t automatically evaluate themselves with a high degree of
accuracy. Self-evaluation is a skill and takes practice, guidance, processing,
and more practice. It seems reasonable that children who have spent a lifetime
looking to others for measures of their worth will encounter problems turning
that focus inward. Children who have initial trouble with accurate self-
evaluation will improve with practice and processing.

One strategy for beginning self-evaluation with students is to start small. Set
up a situation in which children evaluate only a portion of their behavior,
product, or effort. Help them look at their work through self-evaluating eyes by
asking them to find the best parts or the weakest parts.

―Look at your penmanship paper. Look through your rows of R‘s. Circle your
three best R‘s. Now find some that are not your best. Underline the two that
you could improve on next time.‖

Power Strategy #15

Make yourself dispensable.
All power-raising activities have to do with turning significant decisions over to

      Class jobs
      Common supplies
      Other experts/peer counseling
      Self-checking materials
      Routines
      Time management/prioritizing

       TT         ―Ask three before me.‖
                  ―Someone in your group knows.‖
                  ―Is this a group question?‖

Power Strategy #16

Invite student input.
Another way in which teachers share control and empower students in their
classrooms is by inviting student input. These teachers actively seek student
opinions, ideas, suggestions, and concerns on a wide variety of topics.

Opinion seeking means that teachers actively and purposefully construct tasks
that require students to share their opinions. It matters less what opinions are
asked for and more that they are asked for. It matters less what specific
opinions are shared and more that teachers simply be there to acknowledge
them without judgment.

When you seek student opinion, you communicate to students that their ideas
have value, that you appreciate and want their input, and that they possess

useful opinions. Opinion-seeking tasks help students see the value in their
ideas as well as in themselves.

Opinion seeking is as simple as asking, ―What do you think?‖ or ―How do you
feel about that?‖ It is as simple as designing inferential and hypothetical
questions that have multiple right answers and inviting students to form

What‘s one good reason why . . . ?
     rather than
What is the reason why . . . ?

Which one of these pictures might be the home of a settler?
     rather than
Which is the correct answer?

Why might they have . . . ?
     rather than
Why did they . . . ?


   1. What would you do if you found a wounded bird?
   2. What would you do if your teacher fainted in class?
   3. What would you do if you were home alone and you burned your hand
      on a hot burner?


   1. If you lived in a world where there was just one color, what color would
      you want it to be? Why?
   2. If you lived in a world where there was only one sport, what would you
      want it to be? Why?
   3. If you lived in a world where you could live things over, what would you
      choose to live again? Why?
   4. If you lived in a world where you could change places with someone for
      a day, who would that be? Why?


A high-school teacher uses file cards to create what he calls ―Paragraph Piles.‖
Once a week he designs an opinion-seeking question and allows students five
minutes to write a paragraph on a file card, stating their opinions. He collects
the completed cards and puts them in a pile on his desk. Two students then
split the piles and alternately read the opinions expressed on the cards. No
names are attached. A class discussion follows. Emphasis is on hearing and
understanding the different opinions. There are no right or wrong answers. Not
all opinions are agreed with. Every opinion is respected.


Have students choose a real person and write a telegram to that person
beginning with ―I urge you to . . .‖ The message is to consist of fifteen or fewer
words. Telegrams may be written to politicians, local officials, entertainers,
sports figures, relatives, or friends. Messages reflect something students value
or feel is important. Put telegrams on display. Add yours.


Suggest a topic such as the school hot lunch program or the success or failure
of a recent class goal. Students add opinions to the chain by writing them out
on strips of paper and linking them to the end of the chain.


A sixth-grade teacher implemented a regularly scheduled sharing time for her
students. During the weekly process students were invited to share their ideas,
thoughts, and feelings. The teacher controlled the topic, announcing it in
advance, and kept the discussion on target. Topics included sharing what you
liked about your art project; your opinion of the hot lunch program; telling
about a hobby; expectations or concerns about moving on to the middle
school; ideas on how to improve the state of the world today; a paragraph
from a favorite book; a meaningful quote and a two-sentence explanation of
what the quote means to you.


Many teachers also use journal writing to invite student input. Again, teachers
frequently choose to structure the topic. Occasionally, journal writing is non-
structured. Topics may include:

      I‘d like your opinion on what happened on the playground today. How did
       you see it? What did that disturbance look like from your point of view?
      I‘m going to be rearranging the classroom next week. I‘d like your ideas
       on how to do that. Please offer some suggestions and give me reasons
       for those suggestions.
      We‘re going to be choosing a class name. List as many suggestions as
       you can and tell me about the one you like best.
      This is Respect Week at school. Why do you suppose respect was
       chosen? What type of respect would you like to receive from classmates?
      What was your favorite learning activity this week? Explain.
      React to the assembly we had today and tell me what you thought of it.

Teachers who use journals respect students‘ right to privacy. If a student does
now want to share a particular entry with the teacher, he folds that page back
and paperclips it shut. That‘s the agreed upon signal that the page is private.
Respect that signal.

All other journal entries are read by the teacher and responded to in writing.
Responses focus on the content and react to students‘ ideas and concerns,
often asking further questions. Mechanics of writing are ignored or noted by
the teacher for use in designing content lessons later. Journal entries are not
the place to correct spelling and punctuation errors. There are times in the day
when these teachers work hard on those skills. Journal time is not one of


Putting items in rank order is another way to invite students to share their

Given a small budget to spend on the litter problem in your community, how
would you rank the following proposals to spend the money? Rank the
proposals from wisest to least wise use of the money.

    Purchase litter containers.
    Place NO LITTERING signs in strategic places.
    Hire someone to pick up litter.


Have each student make a profile. During an individual conference with you,
students set learning or behavioral goals. This is done with mutual agreement.
Goals are recorded on the profile. After a designated period of time, the
student also records her accomplishments.

Goal setting helps children measure their growth over time. It gives them a
direction, a way to know when they‘ve gotten there, and a delivery system for
measuring their success. Goal setting helps a student see himself as someone
who grows, someone who accomplishes, and someone who is capable.


 Name _________________________________________

 Date __________________________

 ___________ 1. I will learn ______________ new words at the word bin.

 ___________ 2. I will write _______________ new words in a story about _____________.

 ___________ 3. I will tell a story about _____________ and use ___________ new words.

 Completion date: _________________________

 ____________________________           ___________________________
 Student Signature                      Teacher Signature


I, _____________________, have read and thought about the list of activities and agree that
during the next four weeks (ending ______________________________) I will fulfill the
minimum assignment of 1, 2, and 3 plus my three choices listed below:




Signed this ________________ day of _____________________, 200_.

______________________________          _____________________________
Student Signature                       Teacher Signature

Time Budgeting. I, __________________, agree to work fifteen minutes a day on math facts.

Sustained Interest. I, _________________, agree to spend ten minutes on my autobiography,
eight school days in a row.


In addition to academic contracts, students can construct behavior contracts
that help them grow in their ability to exercise responsibility and personal
power. Contracts can be written to cover a variety of skills. Some follow:


I want the following job: ____________________________________________________

If I get it, I will: ___________________________________________________________

This job is important to the class because: ______________________________________


I would be a good person for this job because: ___________________________________


_______________________________________                 _____________________
Signature                                               Date

Verbal interactions. I, ____________________, agree to comment orally no more than five
times during class meetings. I understand that I can comment at any time during a meeting,
but that once my five times are used up, I will no longer comment.

Time on Task. I, _________________, will only leave my seat five times a day this week. It is
agreed that I can leave my seat at any time during the day as long as I have not exceeded five
leavings. When I fulfill this contract, I will have unlimited seat-leaving privileges for the
following week.

When introducing contracting to children, keep the time frame within their
success level. A four-week contract could overwhelm beginners. A two- or
three-day contract is more appropriate when starting out. Length of time can
increase as children increase their ability to complete contracts successfully.

Power Strategy #17

Refrain from Teacher Talk that escalates.
A. Asking questions to which you already have the answer

                  ―Where were you when I explained this?‖

―Do you know where your seat is?‖
―Didn‘t I just explain that?‖
―What did I just tell you?‖
―Haven‘t you started yet?‖

Such questions are thinly veiled accusations that require no answer. In fact, if
students do answer, they are often accused of insolence. When teachers ask,
―Do you know where your seat is?‖ or ―What did I just tell you?‖ they are
indicating displeasure. Usually it smacks of sarcasm and ridicule.

Asking questions to which we already know the answer indicates disrespect for
students. Can you imagine asking an adult volunteer, ―Mr. Stachowiak, didn‘t I
just explain that?‖ or ―Mrs. Fraser, haven‘t you started yet?‖ Our language
reveals the degree of respect we extend to others. By eliminating these
questions from our communication repertoire, we can model respect for all
people regardless of age or status.

When you hear yourself asking questions of this nature, stop. Ask a different
question, this time of yourself. Ask, ―What is my motivation for asking this
question?‖ Examine your answer. If the purpose of your response is to
communicate anger or irritation, drop the question and state your irritation
openly. ―I‘m angry about having to explain this twice,‖ or ―I‘m irritated that I
have to stop this activity to remind you to stay in your seat.‖

If your intention is to remind students to get in their seats, start their work, or
pay more careful attention during explanations, tell them directly. ―Bill, please
get in your seat so we can begin.‖ ―Sally, please start your assignment now.‖

If you really want to know if Janelle has her assignment done, if Kristen has
started yet, or where Matthew was when you gave the information, ask. If you

already know, don‘t ask. Deliver your message in clear, direct, respectful

B. Giving information they already have

Ten minutes after the bell rings, Chelsea turns the knob on the door of her
second-hour algebra class and enters. She knows she is late, her classmates
know she is late, and anyone who saw her pass through the halls knows she is
late. As she settles into her seat, Chelsea‘s teacher interrupts the lesson to
inform her, ―You‘re late.‖

Chelsea already has that information. ―You‘re late‖ isn‘t a useful
communication. It tells her, ―If you come late you‘ll be publicly humiliated.‖ It
tells others, ―I will interrupt your learning to tell another student what she
already knows.‖

More examples of information students already have:

―You didn‘t do your homework.‖
―Your term paper is late.‖
―You lost your place.‖

This kind of information:

1.    Serves no useful purpose.
2.    Invites embarrassment, resentment, and resistance.
3.    Accuses rather than welcomes.
4.    Is counterproductive.

Instead of ―You‘re late,‖ offer a genuine smile of welcome and refuse to
become a partner to the interruption.

Give new information.

Not: ―You lost your place,‖ but ―We‘re on page 72.‖

Not: ―Your term paper is late,‖ but relay the consequences or tell the student
     what they can do next.

At the time of the offense, the less said the better.

Your immediate reaction will reinforce or extinguish behaviors.

Too much attention (positive or negative) will encourage the behavior.

Power Strategy #18

Communicate anger without wounding the spirit.
Use the describe/describe/describe teaching technique.

1.   Describe what you see or hear.
2.   Describe what you‘re feeling (one word.)
3.   Describe what needs to be done.

            Power Strategy Implementation

My three favorite power strategies:

1.       __________________________________________________________



2.       __________________________________________________________



3.       __________________________________________________________



        The one I will implement first is: _______________________________


        I will implement it by: _______________________________________


        I expect the following result: __________________________________




                         Model Strategies

  Model Strategy #1

Use the Teacher Talk strategy, “Next time.”


“Next Time” helps students understand how to change their behavior to meet
your expectations.


―Next time, please let me finish my sentence before you begin talking.‖

―Next time, please show me where you checked your work.‖

  Model Strategy #2

Teach how to do things in class.

Make sure students have a clear understanding of how to do things in class.
Spend time teaching the ―how to‖ of lessons. Write out directions, post rules
and regulations, and invest time in training students to work effectively in the
classroom. Focus the ―how to‖ on as many different learning styles as possible.

         A. Direct Teaching
         B. T-Charts

           Direct Teaching                      T-Chart

                                          Looks Like   Sounds Like




         “If you want a behavior you have to teach a behavior.”

                                Chick Moorman

  Model Strategy #3

Make expectations clear and simple.
Anything you can do to reduce ambiguity will help students understand
expectations. Let students know what you expect of them, and make standards
of performance clear. Let them know what ―quality‖ work looks like and sounds
like in terms of productivity, behavior, relationships, and self-responsibility.


If you expect a quality science notebook to be turned in, tell students what you
want, have them read directions for what you want, and show them an
example of a quality science notebook so they can see and touch what you

     Model Strategy #4

Use Red Light/Green Light.


A.    _____________________ a behavior

B.    Make a ____________________ to ___________________

C.    Give it a __________________.

☼ If you can _______________ it, you can _________ it.


1.    Name ________________, Name ___________________.

2.    A.) Say, “It’s _______________ the class_________.”

      B.) Say, “It doesn’t _______________ with ______.”

3.     State a _____________________.



__________________ the new _________________.



  A. ―Mary, that‘s a put-down. Put-downs are against the class norms
     because it works against our desire to respect each other. What
     we do in here is share how we‘re feeling and tell the other person
     what we want to have happen.‖

  B. ―Ramone, that‘s disowning responsibility for your actions. In middle
     school we don‘t disown by blaming others because it fails to show
     maturity. Here we take responsibility for the part we played and accept
     the consequences. It sounds like this . . .‖

  C. ―That‘s exaggerating, Charles. Exaggerating isn‘t necessary in ninth
     grade because our voice is powerful enough with out adding embellished
     statements. What works well here is to give an accurate account of the

  D. ―Jeremy, that‘s looking to others to solve your problem. Looking to
     others for solutions doesn‘t work here because you can‘t learn to be self-
     responsible that way.. Looking inside is what we do in high school. What
     have you thought of so far?‖

  E. ―Sandy, that‘s back talk. Back talk doesn‘t work with me because I tend
     to withdraw when talked to that way. It usually gets you in more trouble.
     What works with me is a normal voice in tone and volume and a clear
     statement of your perception.‖

   F. ―Larry and Samantha, that‘s a side conversation. Side conversations are
      not appropriate during discussion time because it distracts others who
      want to listen to me. What is appropriate is to share your ideas with all
      of us.‖

                          Illegal Word Bursts
                     By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

Third-grade teacher Mary Fullenwider had a problem. Not a life or death
problem. Not a critical problem. Not even a new problem. Just a nagging,
recurring, frustrating problem. Her problem was that she had a handful of
eight-year-old students who repeatedly interrupted class discussions by
blurting out spontaneous comments.

Her students weren't attention-seeking youngsters whose comments were
rude, humorous, or disrespectful. In fact, their intentions were positive: to
share a thought or ask a question about the topic under discussion. It was just
that these students spoke up without being called on, disrupting the flow of
conversation and frustrating other students who were waiting patiently with
their hands up.

Mary tried talking to the entire class about the problem and asking for their
cooperation. The problem persisted. Next, she attempted to ignore the
outbursts, which resulted in only a minor improvement. Finally, she decided to
go to plan C.

"I decided to confront the behavior every time I heard it," she said. "I designed
a confrontation message that identified the student and the behavior, made it
clear that the behavior violated our classroom procedures, and described the
behavior that was appropriate.

"I knew I had to be consistent or it wouldn't work. I memorized the statement
so I would be ready to use it exactly as I intended. When Roland interrupted
the next morning, I immediately implemented my plan.

"'Roland, that is an Illegal Word Burst," I said. ―It doesn't match our picture of
polite conversation. In our class we raise our hands and wait to be called on.
That way, we have time to think before we speak, and everyone has the same
opportunity to share.

―Roland sat there a bit stunned. He wasn't sure what to do, but he didn't

interrupt again until midway through the afternoon. Then I gave him my
confrontation message again, almost word for word as I had said it earlier that
morning. Same result.

―Now, only a few weeks into the school year, Roland and two of his classmates
have made considerable progress in remembering to raise their hands. They
know what is expected in this third-grade classroom and realize their only hope
of sharing in class is to follow the procedures.‖

Mary's confrontation message worked because she was consistent in using it.
She used it every time she heard an Illegal Word Burst. No exceptions. Her
students quickly got the message that this issue mattered to their teacher.
Because of her consistency and determination, their behavior changed to
match her expectations.

  Model Strategy #5

                 “Because . . .”
You help children who are lacking mental models when you share a ―compelling
why‖ for each lesson. Invest time in teaching the ―why‖ of a lesson as well as
the ―how to.‖ How does this learning objective fit your students‘ lives now?
Why is this knowledge important to know and use forever?

  Model Strategy #6

Give constructive examples of how students can

Students need specific, descriptive feedback. Refrain from making evaluative
comments; instead, tell them what needs to be done, academically and
behaviorally. If you want a behavior, you have to teach a behavior.


If students are to take turns, model how that is done.
If you want students to make a correction, you have to describe specifically
how you want them to make the correction.

Corrective Feedback

For corrective feedback to be constructive it must satisfy several criteria.

1.    Helpful correction is ___________________.

2.    It does not __________________ ____________________ or


3.    It ___________________ what needs to be _________________ or

      _________________________ what you don‘t ____________________.

4.    Main Function: To point out what ___________________ ______

      _______________ _______________ in a situation.

5.    Speaks to the ________________, not the _________________.

     Model Strategy #7

See one, do one, teach one.
This is a helpful learning strategy for students lacking in models. No matter
what they‘re learning—academics or responsible behaviors, long division or
concentration skills—they need to see an example. They need to see the
model, then they need to perform the skill. Most important, they need to teach
it. It is teaching that makes these skills stick in long-term memory.

  Model Strategy #8

Divide and limit information.
Divide information into small bits. Presenting smaller units of information
increases the number of closure points. Presenting students with less
information at one time gives those who are low in mental models more points
where they can stop, check, and take stock. It also helps them arrive at
closure sooner, which motivates them to keep going.

  Model Strategy #9

Check on students soon and often.
By regularly checking on students who lack models you help them stay on
track. Sometimes they don‘t even know what they do not understand. ―Practice
makes permanent,‖ so get to them quickly when you‘re introducing new
material. Make this a priority after you have given an assignment.

 Model Strategy #10

Create structure.

Students who are low in models need structure and routine. It‘s helpful to
them to be able to count on organization that will be the same tomorrow as it
was today because:

     Structure reduces ambiguity.
     Reducing ambiguity lowers anxiety.
     Lowering anxiety increases learning.

 Model Strategy #11

Be redundant.
Working with students who are low in models requires persistence, patience,
and a willingness to say things over and over again. Find out the learning
styles of these students and then use more than one learning style
(kinesthetic, tactile, auditory, visual, etc.) to communicate with them. These
students often respond to peer or adult tutoring and derive pleasure from
completion of simple tasks.

 Model Strategy #12

Demonstrate patterns.
Creative work is often a stretch for students low in models. Since they need
clarity and structure to feel successful, their creativity suffers. Teachers who
enjoy creative students often find students low in models uninspiring.

Patterns help. If you show these students the pattern for haiku poetry, they
can often follow it. Give them an outline for their book review, the four steps
for problem solving, the five parts of a business letter—and their achievement
improves. If they have a model to follow, they are more likely to be successful.

Acronyms also help students low in models. Give them the 3 C‘s of a
classroom: Caring, Cooperation, Choices. Show them the 4 D‘s of Westward
Expansion: Determination, Direction, Distance, Dissatisfaction.

The use of graphic organizers also helps these students develop mental
models. Ask students to take notes on graphic organizers, and teach their use
for study purposes.

 Model Strategy #13

Help students get organized.
Students low in models need to learn how to become organized.


     Assignment notebooks
     Planning books (which the instructor teaches students how to use)
     Checklists
     Priority lists
     Neatness and orderliness (which the teacher encourages)
     Established places for things
     The ―how to‖ of organization
     Checkpoints on long-term projects
     Establishing routines
     Keeping records of completed assignments (Teachers make regular
      contact with students regarding missing work.)

 Model Strategy #14

Help students set goals.
Help students low in models set direction for themselves. They need realistic
goals—ones they have a 70 to 80 percent chance of achieving. Goals also
serve as benchmarks that can tell students where they are in a process. Teach
students they cannot ―do‖ a goal; they can only ―do‖ activities that will help
them move closer to their goal.


If my goal is to lose ten pounds, I can‘t do nothing and lose ten pounds. I can,
however, do activities that will help me lose weight.

For example, I can:

      Buy a book on dieting, read it, and follow the steps listed.
      Walk one mile a night.
      Call two friends who have lost weight, ask them how they did it, and
       follow their advice.
      Join an aerobics class and attend regularly.
      Realize that I can ―do‖ any of these activities.

Creating a goal and listing possible activities to reach that goal helps students
low in models create a picture in their minds of how to achieve that goal, keep
track of how they are doing, and celebrate small successes along the way.

 Model Strategy #15

Provide role models—mentor and mentee.
Bring positive role models to your classroom.


     Ask former high-school students to describe what it is like to be in
     Have eighth-graders read to third-graders who are poor readers.
     Bring in a police officer, doctor, banker, writer, or other respected
      member of the community for an interview.
     Read about people with character in textbooks, magazines, newspapers,
      etc. Study the lives of people who are worth emulating as one grows up.

 Model Strategy #16

Hold students accountable.
Make sure students face the consequences of their behavior. This means you
must follow through. Giving consequences clarifies the cause and effect
relationship between how students act and what happens as a result.

 Model Strategy #17

Be consistent.
Students who lack models may have difficulties when you are consistent. When
you are inconsistent, they feel as if they‘re walking in quicksand; they don‘t
know where to take the next step because everything is constantly shifting.
These students need disciplined discipline. With any discipline system, the kiss
of death is inconsistency. Say what you will do, and then do what you say.

 Model Strategy #18

Use visualization.
Visualization is an incredibly powerful learning tool.

If you don‘t believe in the power of images, interview an advertising executive
and ask her if images can influence behaviors. Teaching students to mentally
picture a desired outcome helps them to focus on the end results they desire
rather than on the problem. If you can see it in your mind, you have a better
chance of accomplishing it. Images do teach.


Jarret McLoud uses positive picturing to assist his science students to learn and
recall important curricular concerns.

―Just kick back,‖ he announces. ―I‘m going to take you on a trip through your
digestive system, using your imagination. If you want to close your eyes you
can, but you don‘t have to. Just relax and let your imagination take over.

―Your body‘s process of extracting useful nutrients from food is called
digestion. Today, you are going to take a trip through your own body and see
how the digestive system works. You‘ll be using your mind to travel through a
whole group of organs that change food into soluble products that your body
can use.

―Digestion begins in the mouth, so let‘s start there. Imagine yourself in a
protective capsule inside your mouth. You can see out and observe what is
happening. Watch now, as food enters your mouth. It could be pizza or salad
or your favorite sandwich. Notice how your teeth tear into it, breaking it into
smaller pieces. See your teeth cutting and chopping the food into still smaller
pieces. Now notice the tongue. Watch as your tongue mixes the food particles
with a juice that helps moisten it. This juice is called saliva. Watch as the
moistened and chopped food starts down a tube called the esophagus. See a
little flap there that keeps the windpipe closed while food as swallowed. That‘s
the epiglottis.‖

The imaginary journey continues through the stomach, small and large
intestines, colon, and rectum until the food is absorbed by the body and/or
expelled as excrement. Throughout the Lecture Burst, Jarret invites students to
engage their minds and their senses to visualize, taste, and hear the work
being done by the digestive system.

Whether your goal is to make behavioral expectations clear or to move
complicated concepts into long-term memory, you can use the technique of
positive picturing to engage mental rehearsal. It will help students reach their
goals and maximize their potential.

Model Strategy Implementation


In every school there are some students who appear to be isolates. They have
few friends and spend much of their time alone. They eat by themselves, study
by themselves, and walk through the halls by themselves. They are on the
outside looking in and are never really a part of the action—never included in
an ―in‖ group. They appear to exist on the fringe.

Students’ #1 Need
From the students‘ point of view, the number one need of kids in school today
is social. From our point of view, students have many other needs that have to
be addressed. But from their perspective, the main need is social acceptance.
All kids want it and some will even lower productivity to get it. We‘ve all seen
examples of bright youngsters purposefully achieving less than they could in
order to be liked and have friends. In their minds it‘s more important to be
social than academic.

This social need grows and becomes strongest in the middle-school years. If
you‘re not part of an in-group by middle school, your sense of belonging and
feeling of oneness suffers. Some students give up the search to belong and
concentrate solely on academics. Others act out. Much of what we call ―acting
out‖ in school today is simply kids getting their social needs met. Having side
conversations, text messaging, coming to class late because ―I was talking to
my friends at my locker‖ are examples.

Your Role
While it is not your job to be the support system for all isolated students, it is
your job to create that support system.

                A Safe and Orderly Environment
                               by Chick Moorman

John Ash teaches eighth-grade social studies in a Michigan public school. His
students are similar to other students around the country. They talk about
clothes, video games, and the opposite sex. They also put each other down.
"Klutz," "homo," and "retard" are a few of the more popular words they use to
ridicule one another.

Tired of battling the verbal violence, John recently created a plan to eliminate
put-downs in his classroom. In each of his six classes, he taught his students
about put-downs. He instructed them to take notes as he placed a definition of
"put-down" on the board. He lectured about what put-downs were and what
they were not. He shared and solicited examples of put-downs. He led a
discussion on what it felt like to both send and receive them.

Twenty minutes into each class period, a pop quiz was announced. Students
were instructed to number their papers from one to ten. The first question
asked them to define "put-down." The remaining nine questions were true or
false, requiring students to decide whether or not the examples John provided
were put-downs. Following the quiz, papers were exchanged, corrected, and
turned in.

To begin the second half of each class period, John passed out a handful of
paper slips to each student. He instructed them to use the slips to write put-
downs about classmates, about themselves, and even about him. He assured
them that these put-downs would be anonymous and would never be seen by
anyone. He also explained that this was their last chance to get put-downs out
of their systems, because beginning the next day verbal violence would no
longer be allowed in the classroom. John allowed five minutes' writing time and
then collected the slips in a large paper grocery sack.

Students watched as he stapled the bag shut. He then led them out the door,
down the hall, and outside to where the cooks emptied the garbage. With his
students standing in a circle, John held the bag of put-downs over a burn
barrel and set it on fire. Students watched as their put-downs went up in

After everyone returned to the classroom, John told his students that they had
just witnessed a Viking funeral. Since the put-downs were now dead, he
explained, they would no longer make an appearance in the classroom.

The Viking funeral helped reduce put-downs among John's eighth-graders. It
did not eliminate them. So in the days that followed, he employed a Teacher
Talk skill designed to reduce put-downs even further. When he heard a put-
down, he called it by name.

"That's a put-down," he would say. "We don't use put-downs in eighth grade.
What we do here is tell the other person how we feel and what we want to
have happen. Use that pattern when speaking to the person you want to put
down. What do you really want to tell that person? Do you need help?"

Without exception, John responded to put-downs identically: "That's a put-
down. We don't use put-downs in eighth grade. What we do here is tell the
other person how we are feeling and what we want to have happen. Can you
handle that, or do you need help?"

In less than a month, John had drastically reduced the incidents of verbal
violence in his classroom. Instead of "Hey retard, you belong in Mrs. Olson's
room with the other retards!" he soon had his students saying, "I'd appreciate
it if you didn't bump my desk on the way to the pencil sharpener. It's irritating
and I'd like it if you were more careful." "Knock it off, dog breath" was
replaced by "I don't like it when you put your foot on my desk."

I was intrigued when I heard this story. It obviously took a major commitment
in terms of time and effort on John's part to affect student behavior in this
area—time taken away from the social studies curriculum. Why was he willing
to do it, I wondered. So I called him and asked him. His answer surprised me.

"I did it because of the Effective Schools research," he informed me. "Are you
aware of the number one tenet in the Effective Schools literature?"

I was aware of it: The number one tenet is creating a safe and orderly

"Some people think 'safe' refers only to physical safety," John said. "Partly it
does mean that. I have to provide a safe physical environment or only minimal
learning will take place. But it also means emotional safety. I don't allow
students to beat one another up with their fists, and I'm not going to let them
do it with their words either. If I don't provide an environment where students
are safe emotionally, how much learning do you think will occur?"

John Ash still teaches eighth grade. His students still talk about clothes, video
games, and the opposite sex, but they no longer put one another down.
Instead, they have learned to communicate honestly and openly. They risk
saying what they really mean. They can afford to take risks because they feel
safe. After all, they are learning in a safe and orderly environment.

  Connectiveness Strategy #1

Get involved in a long-term, in-depth, skill-oriented
cooperative learning training program.

This is not a suggestion to put students into groups and tell them to work
together. That‘s not cooperative learning. That‘s group work. Group work is
different from cooperative learning and often creates divisiveness,
separateness, and resentment.

Presented and structured unskillfully, group work can lead to alienation and

Develop proficiency in a cooperative learning model that:

     Teaches interpersonal skills as well as task skills.

     Teaches techniques to purposely structure positive interdependence into
      the design of the lesson so that students are encouraged to work
      together as well as give and get support from one another.

     Teaches what interpersonal skills students need in order to function as
      effective team players and how to teach those skills.

     Teaches how to debrief lessons in ways that help students stay conscious
      of the choices they make during work time and how to set goals for the

     Teaches how to stay out of groups as students work and to behave as
      interactionists rather than as interventionists.

As you develop your professional competence with a cooperative learning
model, your students will experience increased unity, belonging, and friendship
while simultaneously learning content.

                         Labs in Cooperation
                               by Chick Moorman

Teachers hold different views on cooperative learning. Some see it as one of
many very important tools for effective teaching. Others see it as an idea
whose time has passed. Some teachers perceive this strategy as stimulating
and rewarding. Others see it as a lot of work. Educators choose to see
cooperative learning as helpful, time consuming, frustrating, challenging, or as
a wonderful opportunity to help students learn interpersonal skills.

Whatever view teachers take of cooperative learning when they enter one of
my trainings, I ask them to take responsibility for it. I then invite them to
perceive cooperative learning from a different point of view. I challenge them
to see each cooperative learning lesson as a laboratory in cooperation.

Remember your own eighth-grade general science labs? I remember mine. I
was given batteries, bulbs, wires, a worksheet, and a lab partner. I was
expected to work collaboratively, manipulate the materials, and make
interesting discoveries. The goal was to fill my science notebook with
appropriate answers and learn important scientific concepts in the process.

My partner and I made numerous mistakes. We touched wires to batteries and
bulbs and got nothing. We wrote that down. We discussed our experience,
reevaluated, and connected a different combination of batteries, wires, and
bulbs. Still nothing. We recorded our findings again. Through the process of
elimination and improved thinking, we eventually discovered the correct
combination. The light finally went on, both in front of us and inside our heads.
We recorded that observation.

It was in a lab that I learned the valuable lesson that you can get as much
information from an incorrect response as you can from a correct one. The lab
was a place where mistakes were valued and expected—so expected that extra
supplies were provided in case we broke, dismantled, or burned something up.
The entire lab experience seemed to be orchestrated so that we could learn
from the two greatest teachers in the world: "trial" and "error."

Please see your efforts with cooperative learning as a lab—a lab in cooperation.
Yes, cooperative learning experiences can be viewed as mini-labs where
students practice interpersonal skills and sometimes make errors. They will not
always take turns, disagree politely, stay on task, or offer help without giving
the answer. They will, on occasion, put each other down, lose track of time, or
fail to finish their work.

Value these interpersonal skill mistakes as you would any errors made in a lab
setting. See them as data you can use to help students learn interpersonal
skills. When you notice students making a mistake, help them process the
experience by asking debriefing questions that require them to self-assess.
Use the data you get from observing their interpersonal mistakes to determine
which group skills need to be taught, reviewed, or brought to greater
consciousness. Share your observations with your students, and ask them to
reflect on their behavior and the results it produced.

In a science lab, it's all perfect. Students are either coming up with correct
answers or they're making mistakes. Each possibility is perfect for learning the
concept or for giving students the data they need to readjust and make a fresh
attempt at learning the concept.

Likewise, in cooperative groups it's all perfect. Students are cooperating and
being interpersonally effective or they are making interpersonal errors. Each is
perfect for giving you the data you need to design an appropriate response.

Choose to see cooperative learning experiences as labs in cooperation. If you
do, eventually the wires will connect and the lights will go on!

Special note: If you‘re looking for an incredible skill-based cooperative
learning training that offers graduate credit this summer, e-mail me at and I will let you know what's available in your area.
Performance Learning Systems instructors offer a 3-hour graduate course in
cooperative learning in several states throughout the country. It's a high-
impact, high-energy course that emphasizes adapting cooperative learning
skills to your specific situation.

  Connectiveness Strategy #2

Structure some student-to-student interaction time
every day.
Interaction Linkers

Middle School

1. Science. Look carefully at the diagram of the rocket. What do you see?
   Talk about your observations with your partner.

2. Math. What do you notice about these shapes? Tell your partner.

3. Language Arts. As I read this paragraph, listen for words that describe.
   Tell your partner some that you heard.

4. Science. Think back to the three demonstrations. Recall any patterns in
   how the chemicals changed things. Come to agreement with your lab

5. Social Studies. Recall all the facts we covered in this chapter. Make a
   generalization about explorers. Share with your explorer group.

6. Drug Education. What generalizations can you make about drug users?
   Share your ideas with the person next to you.

7. Social Studies. In your core group, mind map the ways in which you can
   recycle household trash.

8. Language Arts. With your partner, sort these words by parts of speech.

9. Math. In triads, write the sequence of steps to change a mixed number
   into an improper fraction.

10. Science. In your group, list the similarities between a moth and a

11. Music. Write down with your partner ways that the two renditions of the
    song were not the same.

12. Math. With your math buddy, compare parking, ticket, and refreshment
    prices at Wrigley Field and the Sky Dome.

13. Social Studies. In your group, make a list of ideas for the theme of your
    shoebox float.

14. Language Arts. With your writing buddy, write down options you have
    for places to display your poster.

15. Classroom Climate. Brainstorm with your partner about what
    opportunities exist for us to help each other.

16. Physical Education. Together, forecast how you think our team will do in
    the tournament.

17. Counseling. With the person seated next to you, predict what would
    happen if there were no school rules.

18. Social Studies. Find a partner and hypothesize how the lives of United
    States citizens would be different if England had put down the revolt by
    the Colonies.


1. Literature. What do you notice about this character‘s physical
   appearance? Tell the person in the row next to you.

2. Science. Rub this material on your partner‘s hand. What did she feel? Now
   have her rub it on your hand.

3. Speech. What did you notice about Michael‘s body language? What
   gestures did you see him use? Discuss in your reaction group.

4. Home Economics. Sequence the steps you and your partner took to
   create the meal.

5. Government. Make a list with your partner of the procedures we should
   follow when we visit the jail.

6. Psychology. In your triad, give several reasons why people are

7. Literature. What is one quality of the story‘s secondary players? Share in
   your reaction group.

8. Science. Do you see a pattern among the three environmental concerns
   we have studied? Tell your idea to three other people.

9. Driver Education. What generalizations can you and your partner make
   about teen drivers?

10. Art. Together, list ways the impressionists were alike. How were they

11. Science. After listening to the article read by your group reader,
    differentiate between the plight of the humpback whale ten years ago and

12. Government. With your partner, list five major differences in the
    candidates‘ positions. Did you find anything that was similar?

13. Business. With your core group, discuss ways you could change this
    display to attract more attention.

14. Journalism. With your partner, think of possibilities for improving this

15. Any Subject. Discuss together what options are available to you and your
    partner for learning the chapter terms.

16. Business. In your groups, write down a prediction for what would happen
    to sales if you added $10 to the purchase price of each item.

17. Journalism. With your partner, hypothesize how this article will affect the
    student body, the community, the faculty.

18. Government. In your core group, decide what consequences there would
    be if you staged a sit-in to protest the removal of the candy machine.

  Connectiveness Strategy #3

Use connective Teacher Talk.

―Ask 3 before me.‖
―Someone in your group knows.‖
―Is this a group question?‖

  Connectiveness Strategy #4

Create an “Our Classroom” feeling.
A. Add-ons

Add-ons are one effective strategy for building a sense of unity in your
classroom. An add-on is a product begun by the teacher, with students
expected to add on their own unique contribution. One example is the ―A friend
is . . .‖ graffiti board observed in a middle-school classroom. The teacher
displayed the caption and made the initial contributions. Students added on
and filled the poster board with their individual perceptions of what a friend is.

An add-on could be a goal-setting chain with a link that holds each student‘s
individual goal. It could be flowers in a flower bed, stars in the sky, grapes in a
bunch, or teeth in a smile. Students may be invited to add a prediction, a
sentence, an opinion, a question, a date on a timeline, or a statistic.

Add-ons give visual proof of an individual‘s place within the group. When
displayed they provide continuous visual impact to the notion that it takes all
of us to make up our group, and everyone in our group is an important link.
Having your individual contribution displayed as a grape in the bunch or a bird
in the flock helps you see connectiveness and your place in something larger
than yourself.
B. Group Products

Creating group products is another strategy essential to promoting unity and
connectiveness. Working on a class mural helps the group to bond. So does
producing a class newsletter to be sent home to parents, building and tending
a butterfly garden in front of the school, creating a class flag, and creating a
classroom exhibit for open house. Producing a class play and presenting it for
other classrooms brings the presenting students closer together.

It is not accident that most cooperative learning models require students within
each group to produce a single group product. If everyone in the group is
creating their own individual product, what reason is there to work together?
Creating group products builds team pride, fosters feelings of belonging, and
gives students a real reason to work together.

C. Group Book

The creation of group goals also helps build classroom unity. A group goal
could be a dollar amount that is needed to finance the spring trip for the
Spanish Club. It could be seeing if your entire class can get 400 chapter terms
correct when they take the vocabulary test this Friday. Shutting out the
opponent in Tuesday‘s game, getting all permission slips in by Thursday, and
getting a ―ONE‖ rating by the judge at the band competition are further
examples of group goals.

Working toward a common goal helps people pull together. The more difficult
the goal, the greater the feelings of accomplishment and unity that occur when
it‘s reached.

D. Class Names

Selecting a class name is another way to produce bonding, unity, and feelings
of togetherness. Group validation occurs when your class becomes Snyder‘s
Spiders, Olsen‘s Owls, the Pink Panthers, the Banana Splits, or the Third-Hour
Hummers. The specific name matters less than its use and the process of

You could choose to name your class the Southwest Scientists or the History
Hunters. If you alone decide on the class name, you bypass students‘
participation in the selection process. When you decide on a class name
without student input, the name is now your name, for your class, decided by
you. Attachment to the class name, pride in being part of that group, and
feelings of oneness are heightened if students participate in the selection

Involving students in the process of name suggestion through seeking,
narrowing, consensus, and final selection requires more time than deciding by
yourself. Yet it is just that process of involvement that builds commitment for
and attachment to the final selection.

Once the class name has been selected, it can be used on other group products
that validate groupness. It can be incorporated into the class flag, song,
banner, t-shirt, badge, or creed. The History Hunters can design a logo for the
class stationery and develop a class motto that goes with it. They can send
home a monthly ―History Hunter News.‖ They can display their findings in the
History Hunter display case in the hall.

Is it Mickey Mouse or Gang Cement?







E. Service Projects

Another important group validation technique and strategy is participating in
projects that help others. Raking the leaves or planting a garden for an elderly
couple, sending cards and letters to a serviceman or servicewoman, cleaning
up the school grounds, visiting a nursing home, and organizing a welcome
wagon to assist new students are examples.

Performing a service—giving to others—builds connectedness. A shared sense
of purpose combined with reaching out to others will help your students to
connect and work as one. In addition to building unity within your class, the
individuals within the group build bridges and connect to the community, the
neighborhood, the elderly, and the less fortunate, as well as to the

Many high schools today have a service requirement for graduation. Each
student is expected to perform several hours of community service before
receiving a diploma.

                    Hats Off to the Hat Makers
                               By Chick Moorman

―Hey, I want to sew.‖
―Can I stay after school and do that?‖
―I had to come today so I could finish my hat.‖

These words were spoken by seventh- and eighth-graders at Western Middle
School, Jefferson County Public Schools, in Louisville, Kentucky. The students
were part of a service-learning project conceived and implemented by math
teacher Mary Beth Singleton.

Last year Mary Beth was searching for a service-learning project for her
practical math class. She wanted a worthy project that would help students
appreciate the beauty of serving others while experiencing real life applications
of the mathematical concepts they were learning in class. That‘s when she
noticed the women at her church knitting hats for chemo patients. Being a
veteran math teacher, she had no trouble putting two and two together and
have it equal a sewing project.

With $2500 in grant money from the Nike Jordan Foundation she bought three
sewing machines and supplies. She then launched the project designed to
teach students math and the notion that no matter what your present
circumstances you can always find places where you can give back. As Mary
Beth explains, ―I wanted these kids to know that you can always find people
with more needs than you have.‖

Mary Beth began this sewing project in two of her classes. The students, all
boys, were in a supplemental, reinforcement math program that was an
extension of their regular math classes.

Two boys began knitting caps. Since the initial cap makers seemed to be
having so much fun, others wanted to join in. With only three sewing machines
available for use at one time, multiple tasks were devised. Eventually,
everyone would get a turn cutting, sewing, trimming, pinning, and printing
messages on the caps.

During the course of the year, all students in the building had an opportunity
to make hats for chemo patients that would later be delivered to eight sites
throughout the state. During work time students constructed spreadsheets
detailing expenses, products produced, and products delivered. They did
cancer research via the Internet. Different size hats required a variety of
measurements. Students figured circumferences and put them to use. They
made and adjusted predictions. They researched fleece and cotton fabrics,

purchased those deemed appropriate, and used them for construction. They
planned, wrote, and produced a slide show presentation of the entire effort.

Mary Ann escorted the students, three at a time, during their planning periods
so they could deliver their products personally and receive firsthand the
appreciation and positive feedback. Thank-you notes were received from
several parts of Indiana and Kentucky. Each note stressed the value of and
appreciation for the students‘ efforts.

Another Western Middle School teacher currently using chemotherapy in her
effort to fight cancer wore one of the hats. Her presence was a constant
reminder of good deeds being done and skills being put to use.

One student with a behavior disorder stopped choosing inappropriate behavior
during the time he worked on hats. Mary Ann relates, ―He wanted to be a part
of this effort so badly that he didn‘t get one discipline referral for 12 weeks.‖

From September to May, 746 hats were constructed and delivered. Forty-three
students participated, recording numbers that had to do with purchases,
expenses, hours, delivery, miles, products, sizes, goals, predictions, and final
tallies. Yes, Western Middle School students learned a lot about numbers
through this service-learning project. And they also learned there is more to
math than just numbers.

Hats off to the hat makers!

F. Class Meetings

Class meetings can be used to activate a sense of belonging. Solution seeking
puts students and teacher on the same side and reinforces the value of group
cohesiveness, which grows as students improve their ability to work together.
The more a class pulls together to make decisions and solve problems, the
more clearly they see themselves not only as a unit, but as a problem-solving,
solution-seeking unit. What a healthy way for a classroom full of young people
to picture themselves.

  Connectiveness Strategy #5

Create an “Our School” feeling.

Create opportunities to enhance students’ feelings that they are part of
the school.

     School festivals
     All-school projects
     School pride issues

Make a memory.

     School Colors Day
     Endangered Species Day
     Hat Day

  Connectiveness Strategy #6

Reach out.
While it‘s not possible for a teacher to be the primary support system for all
the lonely, isolated students in school, it is feasible for them to play that role
for one or two students. You can do that by actively reaching out to those
students who appear to lack connection and feelings of belonging. Do you
know that the isolated child often believes that no one likes him? Do you know
that before relationships in general can improve for this child he has to develop
a relationship with someone? He has to know that someone likes him. Guess
who has the best chance of becoming that someone for the isolated child in
your classroom?


     ● Reach out when students least expect it.

     ● Do not require students to respond.


A.    “I noticed.”
      ―I noticed you like to wear red.‖
      ―I noticed you‘re sitting in a new seat.‖
      ―I noticed you came to school in a different car.‖

         This is not an evaluation.
         The real message is, ―I see you.‖

B.   Let students know when they have contributed to the overall
     progress of the class.

     Telling students how their behavior benefited and affected other class
     members helps them see the relationship between themselves and
     others. These kinds of teacher-initiated experiences can help them
     connect and experience a sense of oneness.

C.   Share your interests, hobbies, activities, and family experience
     with students.

     Rather than asking questions about a student‘s interests and hobbies,
     which is often perceived as interrogation, concentrate on making
     statements about yourself. Reach out through sharing yourself. Students
     who are receptive respond by continuing the dialogue.

D.   Use journals.

     Journals are another technique you can use to connect with students.
     Students make daily journal entries and the teacher reads them and
     responds in writing. The main goal of journal use in this context is
     relationship building. It‘s an effort to ensure that dialogue exists between
     the teacher and student. Many low-connectiveness students will
     communicate on paper what seems too intimate to them to say aloud.

     Be nonjudgmental when responding in writing to students‘ journal
     entries. Listen without judgment when students speak aloud. Learn not
     to continually correct students, nor feel the need to respond to
     everything students say. Concentrate instead on listening and on simply
     being there.

E.   Use physical touch.

     Another way in which you can reach out to isolated youngsters is through
     touch. Show affection, concern, and caring through physical contact.
     Your touch can be a pat on the back, a high-five, or a light squeeze on
     the shoulder.

F.   Touch in other ways.

     In addition to physical touch, touch with your eyes. You know the

     importance of sustained eye contact and that the eyes are ―the windows
     of the soul.‖ Eyes can say, ―I care about you. You‘re important to me,‖ or
     ―I don‘t care. Right now something else is more important to me.‖

     One caution here: While you work at giving extended, direct eye contact
     to students, do not insist they make eye contact with you. There are
     cultures represented in classrooms today where eye contact with an
     adult is considered a sign of disrespect. Looking away from a person in
     authority or looking down is a way some children have been taught to
     respect elders. In addition, eye contact heightens intimacy. Allow the
     student to determine the degree of intimacy and risk that he or she is
     willing to engage. Give eye contact, invite eye contact, but do not require
     that it be returned.

G.   Engage in proximity behavior.

     Another way in which you can touch students is through the purposeful
     use of strategic placement, sometimes referred to as ―proximity
     behavior.‖ Proximity behavior simply means being in the vicinity of the
     students you wish to influence.

     You can use strategic placement as part of your reach-out effort with a
     student who needs increased connectiveness. Simply be in the vicinity of
     that student more often than you normally would. Make a conscious
     choice to be around him or her and show your interest and concern by
     your presence.

H.   Smile.

     Another way to reach out is with a smile. We all think we do this on a
     regular basis, but do we really?

I.   Use names.

     The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your own name.


     Use names in the beginning, middle, and at the end of a sentence.

           ―John, I read your report.‖

          ―That was fun for me, Madison, to be able to read that paper of

          ―Thank you for your help, Juan.‖

J.   Give symbolic hugs.

             Note pads: Hugs from the teacher
             Rubber stamp
             Stickers with hug themes
             Quiet area

                                ICM Buttons
                                by Chick Moorman

I have antennae that notice things like this, so it came as no surprise
when I spotted the ICM button on a middle-school student in a crowded
hallway in western Nebraska.

The button was four inches in diameter and contained only three letters, all
capitals: ICM. I had no idea what the button was intended to communicate.
For all I knew, the letters were really Roman numerals; or maybe the button
was related to an upcoming school election. Curious about its significance,
I decided to ask.

"What do you have there?" I asked the adolescent who was wearing the

"It's an ICM button," he informed me in a tone putting me on notice that
the answer to my question was obvious.

"What do the letters stand for?" I continued. "What does 'ICM' mean?"

"ICM stands for 'I Can Manage.' Did you know I managed to bring my
materials to class three days in a row? I can manage my materials."

"Congratulations," I offered.


"Where did you get that button?" I continued.

"My teacher, Mrs. Chen, gave it to me."

"How do I find this teacher?" I asked, hoping to get pointed in the right

"Follow me. I'm on my way to class now."

As I entered the classroom of the teacher who gives students ICM buttons, I
realized she was a special education teacher. She and an aide worked with
fifteen students in this special needs classroom.

After introducing myself as the afternoon staff development speaker, I got
right to my agenda.

"I met one of your students in the hall," I explained. "He was wearing an
ICM button. Can you tell me about those?"

"Oh, that was Luis," she said. "I gave him one for managing his materials.
He's been working really hard on that, and I thought he deserved some
positive recognition. ICM stands for 'I Can Manage.' One of the things
we're working on in here is managing ourselves. Sometimes I give the
buttons to students for managing their time, their mouths, or even for
managing to be where they're supposed to be at any given moment. Managing
tempers, words, supplies, or the cleanup effort have also resulted in
receiving an ICM button from time to time. I gave one out last week when
one of my students walked across the room to the pencil sharpener and back
without hitting, kicking, or poking. I gave it to her for managing her
hands and feet."

As I explored the ICM button phenomenon with Mrs. Chen, I found she
distributed them indiscriminately. There was no set schedule. There was no
number of points to be earned in order to get one. Some weeks none were
awarded, other weeks several were distributed. When Mrs. Chen felt one was
deserved, she gave it. Students kept the buttons for three days and wore
them proudly.

I also learned that Mrs. Chen had enlisted the aid of all the other adults
in the building. Anyone who taught, served lunch, helped out in the
library, worked in the office, or handled discipline in the school was
honor bound to go up to any students they saw wearing ICM buttons and ask
them where they got the buttons and what the buttons stood for. Failure to
do so would land them in trouble with Mrs. Chen.

Thus, any student wearing an ICM button could expect to be asked several
times a day, "Where did you get that? What does it stand for?" The student
was then able to say frequently, "I can manage. I can manage my materials."

I wonder if Judy Chen ever rewards herself with an ICM button. I hope so. I
hope she wears it proudly in the halls of her school. And if someone comes
up and asks her what it stands for, I hope she tells them, "That's my ICM
button. It means I can manage. I can manage my classroom by encouraging
positive behaviors in my students."

                  The Drama within the Drama

                               By Chick Moorman

The annual Board of Education dinner was running smoothly. The board
members and superintendents, representing twelve local school districts and
one regional unit, had arrived on time and were networking profitably. The
meal was hot, tasty, and filling. The preliminaries that led up to the evening's
entertainment held no hint of the drama soon to follow.

Entertainment, provided by the hosting high school's drama club, consisted of
a short play acted by several juniors and seniors. A comedy, the play was
intended to be light and lively, leaving the audience entertained and amused.
It didn't work out that way.

The students performed flawlessly as the presentation began. Their timing was
impeccable, and the audience roared at all the right moments. The students
and all sixty-three board members seemed to be enjoying themselves. Then it

Suddenly, the young man who had the lead role paused in the center of the
stage and took on that deer-in-the-headlights look that signaled he had
forgotten his next line. He froze and stared straight ahead. A prompt came
from offstage. He began, but halted again, looking frightened. Another prompt
came from the wings.

Everyone in the audience could hear the prompt. But for some reason, the
student who stood center stage did not. He chose to bolt. He turned, walked
off to his right, and disappeared. (Later, it was discovered that he had walked
out of the school, jumped in his car, and gone home.)

The crowd was visibly taken aback. They slumped in their chairs and let their
mouths drop open. The drama instructor waited momentarily to see if the
student would return. When he did not, the instructor walked out on stage with
the script in hand and read the missing student's lines. The play continued with
this drama teacher reading the necessary lines while the other students played
out their roles.

Board members applauded at the end. The remaining performers took the
customary curtain call and smiled at the appreciation and recognition they
received. But when the curtain closed for the final time, board members were
left wondering what had happened to the young man. They sat there
whispering about the incident with concern on their faces. That's when the
instructor surfaced from behind the curtain and began to speak.

"Some of you may be wondering about our lead actor and how he's doing," he
began. "I don't know yet, but I can assure you that the end result will be
positive. This incident will be an incredible learning experience for everyone in
class, including me.

"What you saw was a young man stumble and fall down. My job, as a
professional educator, is to help him and the other students learn how to get
back up from a fall. We will be working on this first thing tomorrow morning.

"Another responsibility of mine is to help young people learn to encourage and
support others who have stumbled. This incident will provide me with the
opportunity I need to teach that lesson. All of my students will get to practice
this tomorrow.

"Please take no offense, board members, but although these important lessons
are not covered in the textbooks you provide or measured on the tests
students must take to determine their graduation eligibility, I believe they have
great value.

"These are the lessons I live for as a teacher. This is where I feel I earn my
money. I don't really teach drama, I teach human beings. So when one of my
students makes a mistake like this, I rejoice. It gives me an exciting
opportunity to help all my students learn to become more effective human

"It was a great night tonight. Tomorrow will be even better. Thanks for inviting
us to present."

A long pause ensued. It was followed by a standing ovation.

                         Outstanding Attitude

                               By Chick Moorman

Sitting on the front porch at a friend's house in the late afternoon recently, I
was privileged to be part of an interesting educational exchange. As my friend
and I caught up on the significant events of each other's lives, a school bus
pulled up in front of her house. My friend's two daughters descended the
school bus stairs and began the walk from the road to the house.

As the girls approached the house, the older one, a tenth-grader, began
waving a paper and calling excitedly to her mother. "Look what I got!" she
cried. "An award from my writing teacher! It says I have an outstanding

My friend made appropriate congratulatory remarks as the award was passed
to us for examination. Sure enough, Mindy had been presented with an 8x10
suitable-for-framing award. It contained these words: "Presented to Mindy
Clark on March 21st, 2004, for OUTSTANDING ATTITUDE in Creative Writing
class." It was signed by the teacher.

Both mom and daughter were quite pleased with the written confirmation.
That's when I stuck my nose in.

"What did you get that for, Mindy?" I asked.

"Having an outstanding attitude," she replied.

"So what exactly is an outstanding attitude?" I pressed.

"It means I have a good attitude in writing class."

"What was good about your attitude?"

"What do you mean?"

"I realize that your teacher thinks you have an outstanding attitude, and I
assume you probably do. But what I want to know is, what do you have to do
to get that award?"

"You have to have an outstanding attitude."

"How does someone know if you have an outstanding attitude or not?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Mindy, what if one of your girlfriends came up to you and asked what she
would have to do, what behaviors she would have to demonstrate, to win that
award next month? What would you tell her to do?"

"I'd tell her to have an outstanding attitude, a really good attitude, every day."

I began to realize that Mindy, age fifteen and an honor-roll student, had no
idea why she had received the award. She did not know what behaviors of hers
had produced it. She did not know what behaviors to repeat to earn another
outstanding attitude award.

Happy Grams, Good Student awards, and Super Star papers are handed out to
students by well-intentioned teachers throughout all the grades—in
kindergarten, in fourth grade, and in high school. Regardless of the grade
level, the awards have little meaning.

Awards that contain words like "excellent," "super," "tremendous," "fantastic,"
and "good" are a reflection of one teacher's evaluation of a student in a given
area. These evaluative words provide students with little useful data about why
they received the awards. In fact, when awards use evaluative language,
students are more likely to view their teachers as responsible for creating the
awards than to view themselves as having inspired them by demonstrating
specific behaviors.

I have no doubt that Mindy has an outstanding attitude in her writing class.
And I also have no doubt that her teacher's evaluation was based on specific
behaviors. I'll bet Mindy turned her papers in on time, entered frequently into
class discussions, asked questions, stayed on task, did indepth work, and/or
followed directions. When you give awards, strengthen your praise by adding
descriptive comments. What was good about the paper? Why was the report
fantastic? What behaviors made the effort super? If you give a student an
award for honesty, dependability, or promptness, include a description of what
it was they did that was honest, dependable, or prompt. By specifically
describing accomplishments, you affirm what has been done rather than
evaluate it. In so doing, you allow students to draw their own conclusions. You
give them room to make self-evaluations, and you help them connect their
behaviors to the accolades.

If you follow this suggestion, give yourself an OUTSTANDING TEACHER award.
And when you do, be sure to describe what it was you did behaviorally to earn

                             Let Them Cheat
                               by Chick Moorman

We're cheating students by not letting them cheat!

Absurd? Ridiculous? Maybe not. It could be that the best way to deal with
cheating is to let it occur. Let's take a closer look.

It is my view that cheating (copying answers, using someone else's paper,
etc.) is destructive and self-defeating both to the individual and to the
atmosphere of the classroom. It is therefore highly undesirable. It is also my
view, however, that attempts to prevent cheating are undesirable. Here's why.

Teachers often use a variety of cheat-control techniques designed to head off
cheating before it occurs. Cheat-control strategies include:

1. Arranging desks so students can‘t see one another's papers.

2. Using blockers to prevent students from seeing what their classmates are

3. Walking around the room during test periods, saying things like "Keep your
eyes on your own paper."

4. Having students exchange papers before correcting them.

Without question, teachers can reduce the amount of cheating that occurs in
their classrooms by imposing such cheat-control techniques. Basically, more
cheat control equals less cheating—an understandable equation that is used in
classrooms throughout the world.

Superb cheat-control measures can go a long way toward preventing the overt
act from happening. Such measures may not eliminate cheating altogether, but
they can certainly bring it under control. It will remain under control as long as
the control remains.

But these measures are extrinsic; they come from a source outside the
student. For that reason, they require rigorous and constant enforcement. The
real measure of their effectiveness is only a momentary back turn or a brief
absence from the room away.

By employing cheat-control strategies in our classrooms, we program students
to look to us for control. We teach them that we, the authorities, are
responsible for their behavior. In doing so, we pass up precious opportunities
to teach self-control and personal responsibility. We rob our students of
opportunities to develop their inner authority. In effect, we cheat our students
by setting up situations in which they can't cheat.

Students are cheated because they miss a chance to grow in self-
responsibility. They learn that others control their lives and are responsible for
their actions. They become secure in the protective shell of not having to take
responsibility for themselves.

Our students would be better served if we eliminated cheat control as a
preventive practice. It is precisely this type of prevention that prolongs the
existence of cheating by forcing it underground and keeping it unresolved.

As an alternative to cheat control, give students opportunities to cheat. Let
them correct their own papers. Use no blockers during spelling tests. Post
answer keys on the wall. Design self-checking materials. Leave the teacher's
edition on the resource table.

Begin by assuming no one will cheat. At the same time, know that some
students probably will, since students have learned all too well the importance
of right answers. Indeed, many have attached their feelings of self-worth to
the number of correct answers they get on their papers.

When the barriers to cheating are dropped, remember that those who choose
to cheat are not doing so because they are bad, or even dishonest. They are
cheating because they haven‘t yet developed an inner authority that guides
them to practice integrity. They have yet to discover the difference between
the beauty of learning concepts and the insignificance of right answers. In
short, they have more important lessons to learn than the spelling words or
math problems that appear on their papers.

Once cheat control is ended, these students will demonstrate their need for
personal growth. Identifying them won‘t be difficult. You will see them glancing
at other students' papers or notice that they have the same exact answers as
the person seated next to them. You will see a pattern of correct daily work
and stumbling on retention checks. In essence, you will catch them cheating.

Once the "cheaters" are identified, you can begin to assist in their growth.
Start by emotionally accepting them as they are, without judgment. Confer
with these students privately. Refrain from showcasing your values by making
"examples" of them. Share your concerns honestly, concentrating on your
direct observations. Speak to the situation rather than to the character and
personality of the student.

Work to fix the problem rather than to fix blame. Invite these students into
joint solution seeking with you. Keep the emphasis on the search for solutions

rather than on blame and punishment. Help them set goals and develop an
action plan.

In addition to helping students choose honesty and integrity, you can work to
control your own perceptions about cheating. When cheating occurs, it is
possible to look at it from a variety of perspectives. You can view it as
disgusting, dishonest, and immoral. If you do, you are likely to react by
implementing regulations that prevent its recurrence. Or you can see cheating
as a call for help and react as if it were an opportunity for learning to take
place. How you see cheating is up to you. What you do about it is also your

Why not let students cheat? It just might be their best path to personal power
and inner strength.

                         Saying the "S" Word
                               by Chick Moorman

"I won't accept that kind of language in my class." Those were the words that
one of my grandson Austin's sixth-grade teachers used immediately following
his utterance of the "S" word in class.

Austin doesn't typically use the "S" word, the "F" word, or any other word that
has to be abbreviated with a capital letter. He knows better and he usually acts
accordingly. But on this day he reached into his backpack, realized he had left
an important paper in his locker, and without thinking about possible
ramifications let the word flow into the classroom atmosphere. A classmate
overheard him and informed the teacher, setting in motion the string of events
that would lead to Austin's only (so far) school detention.

"Did you use the 'S' word?" asked teacher Sally Geuder.

"Yes," replied eleven-year-old Austin, owning his behavior.

"I won't accept that kind of language in my class," Mrs. Geuder said.

"I know," said Austin. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have used it."

What followed next is critical. It is the language and behavior that separates
extraordinary teachers from those who are average. It reflects a way of looking
at life and the teaching/learning process that is positive, nurturing, uplifting,
and inspiring. It is the way of Spirit Whisperers.

"Thank you for telling the truth," said Mrs. Geuder. "I'm glad you admitted it.
I‘ll be writing you a detention notice for using profanity in the classroom. Your
grandfather will have to sign and return the notice to the school office, and you
will have to serve a detention after school one day next week."

"Okay," said Austin reluctantly.

The detention notice that Austin brought home that day was simple and
straightforward. It contained his name, the date, the class, the teacher's
name, the time, and the infraction. A place was provided for my signature. As
detention notices go, this one was pretty ordinary. It was the note that
accompanied the detention notice that was special.

"Austin really reacted positively to the detention," the note began. "He didn't
try to argue. He admitted it quickly and owned up to it. He readily accepted the
consequences of his behavior. He's really improving in this area."
Mrs. Geuder's note touched on all the positive aspects of Austin's behavior. It
informed us of all the things he had done well. It focused on his strengths and
the improvement he had made since the beginning of the year.

What‘s important about this incident is that Austin's teacher did not make him
wrong. She did not make him bad. She did not make him awful. She did not
make him a troublemaker. She simply made him someone who got a
detention. She knew where the boundaries of appropriate behavior in her
classroom were, made those lines clear, and did it in a way that helped him
see the positive side of his behavior. What a positive way to handle a negative

                         The Art of Language

                     By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

Sean Tucker teaches a variety of language arts classes in a middle school in
Central Illinois. Some might say he has led a charmed life since he graduated
from college two years ago. After all, he lucked out by getting a teaching job in
his hometown. Fortunately, a veteran teacher resigned at the last minute, one
day before Sean was scheduled to interview. It looks like he just happened to
be in the right place at the right time.

You might say and think those things, but Sean Tucker wouldn't. You see,
Sean is a language teacher. Words, phrases, and language patterns matter to
him. He senses the art inherent in language and is careful about how he talks
and thinks. Consequently, he chooses not to use the language of luck.

The words charmed life, lucked out, fortunately, and right place at the right
time that appear in the opening paragraph are not part of Sean's vocabulary.
Nor does he use good fortune, chance, magic, or coincidence. According to
Sean Tucker, these words "embellish the myth that luck exists and is at work
in our lives." Assigning the success of his job hunt to luck would be disowning
the part he played in that success. It would be giving up personal responsibility
and giving it to something else: in this case, "luck."

"Who do you think wrote my resume?" he asked. And who earned the grades
that appear on his transcripts? And what about the relationships he has built
up over the years with the current school personnel? Is that luck? "Hardly,"
Sean states, steadfastly refusing to use the language of luck to diminish his
sense of personal power. He chooses not to give some mysterious external
force credit for his success or his failures.

Sean Tucker also teaches his students about the language of luck. "I guess it
wasn't in the cards," one of his seventh-graders announced after hoping for an
"A" and not receiving it on a vocabulary test. Mr. Tucker used that occasion to
abandon his scheduled lesson on dangling participles and teach instead about
the many words and phrases in our language that refer to the concept of luck.
He talked to his students that day about the results of assigning responsibility
to fate or fortune when things do or do not go well. "You can assign the results
that show up in your life to fate or luck, or you can take the responsibility
yourself instead," he told them. "Where you place the responsibility goes a
long way in determining what you can and will do about it. If you talk as if you
are responsible and see where you are responsible, you are more likely to take
responsibility to do something about it. If you assign the results to luck, you

tend to see yourself as someone who cannot affect the results. The choice of
how to see these situations is yours."

During the year Sean Tucker heard other students disowning responsibility for
the results they produced. "I didn't have any luck with him at all," one student
said after an unsuccessful attempt to talk another student into loaning him a
pencil. Other examples of disowned responsibility he heard included:

"Unfortunately, everything went wrong with my presentation."
"I just fell into it."
"I stumbled into it in the library."
"It came my way as I was sitting there thinking."

In each case, this second-year teacher stopped his planned lesson and pointed
out the use of the language of luck. His efforts helped his students become
conscious of using this style of language and the effect it was having in their

Sean Tucker is aware that the language of luck is not mentioned in his sixth-
or seventh-grade curriculum guides. He knows that it is not one of the
concepts tested on the state assessment instruments he is expected to
administer each year. Yet, he never wavers in his insistence on helping his
students appreciate the importance of this language concept. "I am a language
arts teacher," he says with great pride and emotion. "I am expected to teach
the parts of speech, how to diagram sentences, and how to construct a
meaningful paragraph, among other things. Those are all important mechanics
for children to learn. And I do a good job teaching the mechanics of English.
But I am more than a mechanic. I am an artist. My job is also to teach the art
of language. And I do that equally well."

To say that his students are lucky to have him as a teacher would not be an
appropriate ending to this piece, would it? Let's just say that we're hopeful
Sean Tucker's students are alert enough to appreciate and recognize the
important contribution this teacher is making to their understanding of the
power of words and the importance of language.

Chick Moorman is the author of “Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish A Child’s
Spirit,” and “Our Classroom: We Can Learn Together.” He is one of the world's
foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. He publishes
a free monthly e-zine for educators and another for parents. To sign up for one,
order a book, or obtain more information about how he can help you or your
group meet your staff development or parenting needs, visit his website today: or

Contact information


Phone: 989-643-5059

Address: P.O. Box 547, Merrill, MI 48637


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