May 2008
Vol 5 No 5

Current Issue » Cover Page Cover Story Harry & Rosemary Wong Columns Articles Features
Back Issues
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.5 May 2008

Cover Story by Todd R. Nelson
Only a School. Only a Teacher.
School is still, at its heart, a dance of men and women of character. A school is its teachers.

Harry & Rosemary Wong
An Amazing Kindergarten Teacher
I use modified modeling to teach my students the correct procedures. Instead of just telling, I act out the wrong way first....

»Promoting Responsibility - Or How Not ToMarvin Marshall
»Differentiated Instruction & Ability GroupingCheryl Sigmon
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Counting the days yet?Barbara & Sue Gruber
»Problem-Based Learning, Part 3Hal Portner
»Successful TeachersLeah Davies

»'Subprime' Is Voted "Word Of The Year" For 2007
»May 2008 Writing Prompts
»Use Math's Magic to Intrigue Students Solving Linear Equations
»I Choose Teaching - A Meaningful Career
»Teacher Appreciation Day: Not Nearly Enough
»Treating All Students With Dignity
»Two Teachers, Two Philosophies, One Result
»Favorite Teacher Appreciation Activities
»Academic Writing Guidelines
»What is an Effective Teacher?
»Drexel Online Education Program

»Candles of Inspiration: May 2008
»Featured Lessons: May 2008
»Video Bytes: A Hidden Lesson, Baptism By Fire, Mom and more...
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for May 2008
»Live on Teachers.Net: May 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Is a school only as good as the teachers in it?
»Teachers' Best Teachers
»What Is It About Teaching That Keeps You Going?
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Todd R. Nelson

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Marvin Marshall,Cheryl Sigmon, Marjan Glavac, , Barbara & Sue Gruber, Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Tim Newlin, James Wayne, P.R. Guruprasad, Donna Streetenberger, Alan Haskvitz, Laura Dombrosky Miller, Bill Page, and YENDOR.

Submissions: click for Submission Guidelines

Advertising: contact Bob Reap

Subscribe for free home delivery

Marvin Marshall

Promoting Discipline & Learning
Archive | Biography | Resources | Discussion

Promoting Responsibility - Or How Not To

Although the intentions are admirable, giving rewards for expected appropriate behavior does as much harm as good.
by Dr. Marvin Marshall
Regular contributor to the Gazette
May 1, 2008

Although the intentions are admirable, giving rewards for expected appropriate behavior does as much harm as good.

The following is from a post at:

    I just wanted to quickly relay a rewards-based disaster.

    One of our seventh graders, in fact, the daughter of a teacher, recently wanted to go to the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) reward dance. She is an A honor roll student, never a discipline problem, and a wonderful kid. In the haste of "bribing" misbehaving students to be good, we neglected to "reward" her for doing what she had motivated herself to do. Long story short, she did not have enough PBS tickets to go to the dance. How horrible!

    Looks like rewards systems don't quite cover the good kids as well as they should. Good thing that they are intrinsically motivated and feel good about the fact that they are great kids and their teachers love them!

The following was a mailring response post:
    Your experience really points out what I think is a big problem with any reward based behaviour program--the fact that the goal of the program (often not clearly stated) is simply to get kids to behave. When the goal is obedience, then the program isn't truly too worried about the kids who are already obedient. Then things happen--just as they did in your school where a wonderful child is left feeling terrible. Of course, no one intended for that to happen but still that's often the result.

    That's why I feel so strongly about DISCIPLINE WITHOUT STRESS. The goal is to raise everyone, not just those who are a big problem--so the program can focus on all kids. That's what I love: EVERY kid gains. Some gain by bringing themselves up to Level C, while those who are already there gain, too. They learn about Level D, which is such a valuable understanding for living the rest of their lives. No other program that I'm aware of provides this understanding.

    Thanks for participating on our mailring!

    Kerry Weisner
    British Columbia, Canada

The following explains the levels referred to above, where every kid can grow without the use of unfair external manipulators. It describes Part III, The Raise Responsibility System, of theDiscipline Without Stress Teaching Model.

The foundational step is TEACHING The Hierarchy of Social Development. It is the effect of the hierarchy—how people grow—that makes teaching it so valuable. The hierarchy has four levels (concepts). As with any hierarchy, the highest level is placed at the top.

LEVEL D - Democracy (highest level)
Develops self-discipline
Shows kindness to others
Develops self-reliance
Does good because it is the right thing to do
The motivation is INTERNAL.

    This level is characterized by taking the initiative to be responsible. On this level, a person's MOTIVATION is INternal. The concept of democracy is used because democracy and responsibility are inseparable. (After the concepts are taught, the usual practice is to refer just to the LETTER OF THE LEVEL, rather than to the words themselves.)

LEVEL C - Cooperation/Conformity
Does what is expected
The motivation is EXTERNAL.

    This level is characterized by consideration and complying with requests, but the motivation is EXternal. Action at this level is prompted by MOTIVATION to please others, receive a reward, or to avoid an imposed consequence.The difference between the two is in the MOTIVATION, rather than in the behavior. For example, if a teacher asks a student to pick up trash and dispose of it, and the student does, that demonstrates Level C. If, however, the student sees the trash and takes the initiative to dispose of it WITHOUT THE TEACHER'S FIRST ASKING, that demonstrates Level D motivation. The behavior is the same. The difference is in the motivation.

    These two higher levels of motivation are BOTH acceptable.


    The two lower levels of behavior are NOT acceptable.

    LEVEL B - Bullying/Bossing
    Bosses others
    Bothers others
    Bullies others
    Breaks classroom standards
    Needs to be bossed to behave

      This level is characterized by a lack of impulse control, a lack of consideration for others, and by displaying inappropriate behaviors. See Reducing Bullying.

    LEVEL A - Anarchy (lowest level)
    Out of control

      This level is characterized by the absence of order and by chaos.

    Sample hierarchies for primary, upper elementary, and middle/high school levels are available at Levels of Development.pdf.

    The levels (concepts) can be taught with examples from home, from school, and from the community--as well as with stories and events from around the world. Eliciting examples of each level increases understanding and makes the concepts more meaningful and personal. Read how one teacher taught the hierarchy at A Butterfly Analogy.


    Although some adults initially feel uncomfortable using the vocabulary, the specific terms used to describe the levels have been found to be the most effective in empowering students to resist bullying, resist negative peer influence, and bring satisfaction from one's own efforts.

    Since all language has meaning only in context (e.g., when to spell to, too, two), students of all ages have no problemconfusing lettersusedin gradingand the levelsof development. Also, students of ALL ages can understand the terms; however, the concepts and meaning behind each level vary depending upon age.

    Teaching the levels has a number of advantages. Two of the more significant are: (1) The deed is separated from the doer so students never need to defend their actions (which often lead to adversarial confrontations), and (2) The vocabulary can be used in every grade level by every staff member.


    (1) The hierarchy is NOT an assessment tool for someone on the outside looking in. No one can know the motivation of another person with complete accuracy. In a classroom when all students are putting forth effort to learn, the motivation of some students will be at Level C while others will be at Level D. Only the individual students themselves can accurately assess their level of motivation.

    (2) As we live our lives, we all experience the various levels. If you have experienced great anger, chances are that your concern was about you, with little concern of the effect that your behavior had on others (Level A). If you ever drove faster than the speed limit, you made your own rules of the road (Level B). If you were courteous and considerate of others, your motivation could have been to do what others were doing (Level C), or your motivation could have been to be courteous and considerate of others because that was the right thing to do (Level D).

    To perpetuate a civil society, motivation at Level C is essential, and this is the motivational level at which most of us live our lives most of the time. When working with young people, however, the GOAL is to promote motivation at Level D because motivation at this level brings the most satisfaction from one's efforts. Key concept: Obedience (Level C) does not create desire.

    (3) Rewarding Level D motivation is counterproductive. Since rewards change motivation, once a reward is given, Level D motivation will be compromised. Receiving the reward might very naturally become the motivational focus.

    (4) Using the hierarchybecomes significantly more effective when you FOCUS on the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE MOTIVATIONAL LEVELS OF D and C. The more you make this your standard practice of having students reflect on their motivational level, the more effectively the system serves both you and young people.

    See Using the Hierarchy to Promote Learning.

    The following site will shorten the learning curve for those new to Discipline Without Stress: A Quick Start.

    Copyright © 2008 Marvin Marshall.

    » More Gazette articles...

About Marvin Marshall...

His approach is the only system that is proactive, totally noncoercive, and does not use external manipulatives or threats. He INDUCES students to WANT to act responsibly and WANT to put forth effort to learn.

His book, "Discipline without Stress® Punishments or Rewards - How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning" is used in schools, universities, and homes around the world. The book clearly and concisely demonstrates how external approaches of relying on rules, imposing consequences, rewarding students for appropriate behavior, and punishing students to make them obey are all counterproductive. His approach reduces stress and is more effective than traditional approaches that focus on obedience because obedience does not create desire.

A prime reason that the approach is the fastest growing discipline and learning system in the country and is taught in so many universities is that it teaches students to understand differences between internal and external motivation. A second reason is that the focus is on promoting responsibility; obedience then follows as a natural by-product. A third reason is that the system separates the deed from the doer, the act from the actor, a good kid from irresponsible behavior, thereby eliminating the natural tendency for a student to self-defend.

Dr. Marshall gives permission to download and reproduce anything from his websites as long as is included. Visit his teaching model at

He offers the following resources to learn and support his approach: This is the foundational site that links to the teaching model, shares how a school can conduct its own in-house staff development, and contains free information for implementation. For a quick understanding of his approach, link to "THE HIERARCHY" and "IMPULSE MANAGEMENT." This is the website for the best-selling book on discipline and learning. Three sections of the book are online: Classroom Meetings, Collaboration for Quality Learning, and Reducing Perfectionism. is used to post questions, share ideas, and give assistance. has a compilation of previously asked and posted answers categorized from the above Yahoo site. explains reasons that external approaches - such as rewarding appropriate behavior, telling students what to do, and punishing them if they don’t - are not used to promote responsible behavior. This web log (blog) contains short posts to help implement the totally noncoercive - but not permissive - approach.

NEW! Discipline Without Stress, Inc.- a nonprofit public charitable devoted to teaching the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model, now being offered to low economic schools in the U.S.A.

Free books at, free In-House Staff Development at and, depending upon location, free personal presentations by Marv Marshall. For more information:

The requirements for application can be found at

Marvin Marshall Columns on Teachers.Net...
Related Resources & Discussions on Teachers.Net...