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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
SEPTEMBER 2000
Volume 1 Number 7

COVER STORY
Ride along with the Hole in the Wall Gang this month and discover the special camp founded by Paul Newman nestled away in the quiet hills of Connecticut.
COLUMNS
Effective Teaching by Harry Wong
Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
The Trouble With... by Alfie Kohn
4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
Schoolhouse Views by Beth Bruno
ARTICLES
To Refer or Not to Refer
Tell A Number Trick
BCL Classroom Environments
Links Worth The Click
Morning Meetings
FLingers Block Party
Bridging the Digital Divide
Science Teacher Initiative
Poetry Contest for Canadian Youth
Developing a Positive Home-School Relationship
Classroom Rules Can Be Sweet
Teaching the Visually Impaired
BJ Treks Outback
Teacher To Ski Antarctica
REGULAR FEATURES
New at Teachers.Net
Letters to the Editor
Poll: Favorite Quotes
Archives: Self Publishing
New in the Lesson Bank
Upcoming Ed Conferences
Humor from the Classroom
Help Wanted - Teaching Jobs
Live Events Calendar
Gazette Back Issues
Gazette Home Delivery:


About Marvin Marshall...
Marvin Marshall is a professional speaker and seminar leader who presents his program, "Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards - Raise Responsibility and Promote Learning," to schools across the world.

His program was developed upon his returning to full-time teaching after 24 years of counseling, supervision, and administration. He has taught primary and upper elementary grades and has been an elementary school principal. He has taught all middle grades and has been a middle school counselor and assistant principal. He has taught all high school grades and has been a high school counselor, assistant principal of supervision and control, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, and high school principal. He has also served as a district director of education.

Dr. Marshall is certified by the William Glasser Institute and annually presents at their International Quality Schools Consortium. He presents for Phi Delta Kappa and several leading seminar companies and at character education and other national conferences, including the National Staff Development Council (NSCD) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). His presentation schedule is on the calendar of this website .

In his book Discipline without Stress, Punishments, or Rewards - How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning, he clearly and concisely demonstrates how the external approaches of relying on rules, imposing consequences, rewarding students for appropriate behavior, and punishing students to make them obey are all counterproductive.

Advance notification and autographed copies of his book can be made by contacting http://www.disciplinewithoutstress.com.

Chapter 1 shows how to reduce stress. Three principles to practice are demonstrated: the power of positivity, the empowerment of choice, and the importance of reflection and self-evaluation.

Chapter 2 is about motivating others. People attempt to influence others by using Theory X or Theory Y. After an explanation of these theories, the difference between external and internal motivation is explored. Then comes a discussion of rewards, punishment, and how these are two sides of the same motivational coin. The effectiveness of telling follows. The chapter concludes with a discussion of mindsets-those perceptions which drive motivation.

Chapter 3 describes The Raise Responsibility System. This chapter describes a discipline program that is noncoercive, is based on internal motivation so youth want to be responsible, raises responsibility, and is easy to implement. The program has three parts. (1) Four concepts are taught. (2) When a student acts irresponsibly, checking for understanding is applied. (3) When a youngster continues to disrupt, authority is used without being punitive.

Chapter 4 is devoted to promoting learning. The chapter begins with a discussion of the learning climate. Suggestions are given for improving relationships between the teacher and the class as a whole by reducing rules and instead implementing standards, courtesies and manners, and procedures. Relationships among students themselves and between the teacher and an individual student are improved by reducing anonymity and implementing tutoring. Strategies are then shared which include classroom meetings, collaboration-rather than competition-for quality learning, and reducing perfectionism. The chapter concludes with specific strategies for handling anger and impulse control, resolving conflicts, and dealing with difficult students.

Chapter 5 describes fundamentals for classroom teaching. Topics include left and right brain hemisphericity, multiple intelligences, modalities of learning, emotions, styles, lesson planning, levels of intellect, instructional questions, group questioning strategies, choosing key words to frame questions and statements, imaging, stories, mindsets, metacognition, the senses, additional suggestions for aiding recall and memory, laser learning, seminal shifts, classroom management, and homework.

Chapter 6 offers essential practices for parenting. Topics include practicing positivity, offering choices, encouraging reflection, using effective questions, listening to learn, limiting lecturing and telling, checking assumptions, focusing on the important, asking for assistance, recognizing implicit messages, fostering responsibility, exhibiting personal responsibility, recognizing desired behaviors, maintaining standards, using authority without being punitive, letting the youngster lead, teaching procedures to deal with impulses, intervening in sibling squabbles, being aware of sex differences, using acknowledgments more than praise, honoring homework, working smarter rather than harder, nurturing your child's nature, and reaping the joy of parenthood.

Epilogue - Argues that business is a poor model for learning. Government, business, and even education leaders often compare schooling to business. Schools are referred to as workplaces, students as customers, and performance is measured in terms of accountability. Equating young people's learning processes with what adults do to make money is a false equation. Using a business model for learning is one of those practices which has been described by the comic strip character Dagwood Bumpstead, who said, "You know, that makes a lot of sense if you don't think about it."

Questions submitted to Kathleen Carpenter at kathleen@teachers.net will be considered by Marv Marshall for responses in future monthly columns in the Teachers.Net Gazette.

Click to visit Marvin Marshall's Homepage.

Promoting Learning
by Dr. Marvin Marshall

Reducing Perfectionism

You cannot learn and be perfect at the same time.

When young people perform tasks and are corrected before obtaining feelings of success, they become candidates for discouragement, rather than for empowerment. People cannot improve on what they donít yet own.

A friend of mine related an incident which occurred at the birthday party for his young daughter. After the daughter opened a present he had just given her, my friend asked, cajoled, and finally coerced his daughter into sharing her new toy with other children present. My friend did not realize that his daughter had been asked to share her new present before she had taken possession. It is hard for a child to share or open to others that which the child does not yet own. The same principle holds true in learning. Young people need to feel some degree of ownership or success in performing a task - or have a feeling that they are capable of it - before correction becomes beneficial. Otherwise, the good intentions of correction are perceived as criticism, which leads to a dampened desire to perform the task.

Unless a student is very motivated, he normally does not like doing something for which he will be criticized. However, once possession is felt - once he feels the skill is his - he can open himself to others.

A well-meaning but misguided attempt to correct before possession is taken can have unfortunate results.

In the first grade, when I finished my picture with the sun in the sky, I brought it to my teacher. He looked at it and said that there is no such thing as a green sun. The sun is yellow. Everyone knows that. He said that my picture wasnít realistic, that I should start over. Nightfall came to me in the middle of the afternoon.

The next year my second grade teacher said to the class, "Draw something - anything you want." I stared at my paper and when the teacher came around to my desk, I could only hear the beating of my heart as he looked at my blank page. He touched my shoulder with his hand, and whispered, "How big and thick and nice is your cloud."

The awareness of the negative effects of criticism and the positive effects of empowerment may be one of the most distinguishing marks of superior teachers - and parents. When our daughter was first learning to speak, she made the sound of "s" in a nonstandard way. We called attention to it only once at the dinner table. For the next several weeks, every time Hillary spoke any word which contained the sound of an "s," she hesitated and tried to make the sound perfect. We witnessed the first stage of stuttering. Attention was never called to her speech again, and her parents were greatly relieved when her normal speech pattern returned.

The idea that a student should learn without error is a sound approach when first learning kinesthetic positions because poor neuromuscular habits are harder to break than learning procedures correctly. So students should be instructed at the outset on how to hold a pencil, a flute, or a baseball bat. But if criticism is constant during performance - unless the student is committed to the activity - motivation soon dissipates. This is not to infer that accuracy and precision are not important. They are, but they come later with a focus on continual improvement.

When an infant first attempts to walk, we offer encouragement because we know that learning comes by degrees. We do not expect the child in one day to stand up and walk. Similarly, we encourage an infant to speak even though the sounds are only approximately right. Exactly right is made up of a whole series of approximately rights. Suppose you want an infant to say, "I want a glass of water." If you wait until the child articulates that request with a flawless, complete sentence, you will have a dehydrated, dead child.

Young children are cute and it is easy to empower them through encouragement. But when infants become children and children become adolescents, we treat learning differently. But should we? Whatever the age, having an orientation for participation should hold a higher priority than perfection. Participation is the way to success. Perfection is too often a burden.

The tendency adults have to correct should be modified by a consideration of where the child is in his stage of learning. For example, when the child is desperately struggling to express an idea or use his brain to solve a problem and is put down by constant correction, he may simply not want to volunteer again.

Unfortunately, a focus on perfection has opened pathways for many students to live with the perception that only perfection is acceptable. And some children grow up with the idea that they have to be perfect for people to love them. The perception that if a person ever makes a mistake, he will be rejected - the sense that he has to be perfect for people to find him acceptable - is an idea which plagues classrooms all too often.

One way to look at the orientation of a classroom is to watch for both the teacherís and studentsí reactions to mistakes. When mistakes are welcome, learning is enhanced - first because they are invaluable clues as to how the student is thinking, and second, because to welcome mistakes is to create a climate of safety that ultimately promotes more successful learning .

When a student expects perfection but errs, he often faces self-rejection or failure. Young people marginalize themselves, feel like failures because they make mistakes. Striving for perfection - rather than for constant improvement - leads to other manifestations. It leaves students in a situation where they do not want to admit that they make mistakes in other areas. Perfectionism can also negate a willingness to say they are sorry and apologize because they are afraid that if they ever admit to wrongdoing people will reject them.

An even sorrier manifestation with too many students who work toward perfectionism is that they stop learning; they just give up. With these students, perfectionism becomes so tyrannical to them that they develop anxiety attacks. Such attacks have their beginnings in the idea that only perfect work is acceptable. This leads to a thinking pattern that they can't do it because it won't be good enough. The next stage is total paralysis.

Humans are the only species that think of failure. But we should think of failure simply as feedback, not as an end state. The teacherís message to students, therefore, is to emphasize that experiences should be viewed as processes and as information, not as weapons for self-punishment. This positive mindset breeds a willingness to experiment, to try, to risk. This is extremely important since improvement only comes with practice.

Practicing participation rather than perfectionism should be the message to learners. Implement now; perfect later should be our teaching principle.



Dr. Marshall's website: http://www.MarvinMarshall.com
Email Dr. Marshall: marvmarshall@teachers.net

 
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