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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 15
March 10, 2003


Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able teacher and developing Response-Able students.



My mission is to inspire, encourage and uplift the spirits of educators so they can in turn inspire, encourage, and uplift the spirits of their students.





1. Quote [back to top]


"Reading, writing, arithmetic, and grammar do not constitute an education any more than a knife, fork, and spoon constitute a dinner."



2. Humor [back to top]


Did you hear about the student who had amnesia and deja vu at the same time?

When he sat down to take a test, he remembered that he had forgotten this material before.


3. "You Gotta Be Kidding Me" Department [back to top]


Gimme an A+ . . . or else!

A high school senior is suing his local school district to get a grade overturned, a restraining order on class rankings, and $25,000. Brian Delekta recently filed the lawsuit claiming he didn't receive the grade he had earned, which he claims will keep him from being class valedictorian.

While taking a work-experience class (working as a paralegal in his mother's law office) through another school district, his employer-that is, his mother-gave him an A+. Although his local school district awards grades on a 12-point scale that uses A+ as the highest grade, the highest grade awarded by the district in which he performed his internship is an A. His local district, therefore, gave Delekta an A.

Bring on the lawyers!

You've got to be kidding me.

Source: PEN Weekly NewsBlast


4. Teacher Talk Article [back to top]


What's So Good About Good?

by Chick Moorman

"Good job" 
"Bill does good work in science." 
"She's making a good effort." 
"Good way to do that!" 
"It sure was good!" 
"Good Boy!" 
"How are you?" "Good" 

Did you ever get good and sick of "good"? I did. As a classroom teacher, I got tired of hearing myself say it and watching myself write it. So naturally it was with a good deal of enthusiasm and good luck that I found a paper entitled "100 Ways to Say Good." 

"This is really good," I thought to myself as I looked over the list of synonyms prepared by a text book company consultant. "Great, Fantastic, Terrific, Marvelous, Splendid, Dynamic, Magnificent, Nifty, Supreme, First Rate, Sterling, Wonderful, Superb, Stupendous," and even "Foxy" filled the paper. It was clearly a good list. 

I used the list to communicate to students how I evaluated their efforts. I had a good time writing "Meritorious" and "Deluxe" on their papers. I figured it was good practice as they looked up each new word in the dictionary. I used the words on report forms that went home to parents. I added them to my verbal vocabulary and used them with friends and relatives. 

I felt pretty good about my alternatives to "good" for a couple of years. So it took a good while for the questioning to set in, but slowly, over a period of time, I began to suspect that perhaps all was not good with "good" or its synonyms. 

I first began to question the good in "good" when I saw it on my own daughter's report card. "Marti is doing good work in spelling. She has a good attitude. She is doing a good job in social studies. As I read the report card, I quickly realized it didn't help me learn much about my daughter or her work in school. Good in spelling? What does that mean? I had no idea of her accomplishments or her problems. I didn't know if she learned anything or if she was good to start with. All I knew is that one person evaluated her as "Good". Compared to what, I wondered? Or whom? What does "good" mean? I just didn't know. 

I recalled the report forms I had sent home to parents as a fifth and sixth-grade teacher. I remembered the "goods" and "excellents" I wrote during those years. I wondered if those parents were as confused about their children's progress as I was about my own child. 

I recalled the synonyms I used. The "greats," the "fantastics," etc., and I began to sense that as symbols with which to communicate, they didn't do any more good than "good". They gave no data. They simply labeled. 

I hear "good" a lot these days. At the dinner table, "This food is good." And I wonder, "Is it the taste, or the temperature, or the texture, or the amount, or what?" So I ask: 

"What's good about it?" 
"I don't know, it's just good." 
"What do you mean by good?" 
"Oh, Dad. You know, good." 

I turn on the T.V. and listen to the weather person. She says there will be good weather for the next few days. The sun will be out and the snow will melt. But I'm wanting to go cross-country skiing. That doesn't sound like good weather to me. Seems to me the weather just is. It only becomes good or bad depending on how we view what is. 

I'm beginning to think perhaps "good" isn't good enough any more. Maybe its good days are over. 

Perhaps it would be a good idea to find a good replacement for "good." 

It took me awhile to figure it out, but I finally got in touch with my objection to "good." I don't enjoy it because it's an evaluative word that's used in situations where I want and prefer a description or expression of appreciation. 

I don't enjoy hearing the weather person evaluation the weather. "It'll be a good day tomorrow." Good for whom? For everyone who is listening? I doubt it! I enjoy the weather person who describes the weather without evaluating it. "There is an 85% chance of sun tomorrow, with few clouds throughout the day." Now that's descriptive. Descriptive language enables me to place my own evaluation on it. I get to decide if I think it's good or not. 

When I write a book, give a talk, or develop a photograph, I much prefer appreciative and descriptive comments to evaluations: 

"Excellent speech." 
"That's a good book." 
"Beautiful job!" 

These are all evaluations of me and my efforts. I don't value them as much as I do appreciative and descriptive remarks. I already know if the photo was good or the writing excellent. What I do enjoy, however, is for people to share what they appreciate about what I've done or to describe the parts they enjoy. 

"I appreciate the time you spent on that." 
"That photo really caught my interest." 
"Your book has helped me see that in a new way." 

I find it useful to hear where people find meaning in my work, what they enjoy and appreciate, and what specifically interests them. The feedback is much more valuable to me than evaluations. It is feedback I can use. 

I have been trying recently to eliminate the "goods" from my own language, to express myself in more descriptive/appreciative terms. I have found it difficult. I have been amazed at how often and how quickly I say "Good." It has become a habit, an easy way to comment that requires little thinking or effort on my part. 

I hear myself say, "Good for you" to Matt when he's helped with dinner. The evaluation is easy. It requires much more time on my part to think through what I feel is good and share that information. I could say, "When you help, I get done faster and then I can do some more of the things we enjoy after dinner. I appreciate your help," or "I really enjoy it when you volunteer to help." That type of comment gives him real information or process. He now knows that I liked and why. In addition, he can now say to himself, "I've done a good job" or "I'm a pretty good helper." I like the evaluation coming from him rather that from me. 

It's easy for me to say, "Good job" to Jenny after she's picked up the living room. It's far more difficult to take the time to describe her accomplishments. For instance, I could say, "An hour ago I looked in here and there was stuff scattered all over. Now, every single thing is in place. I enjoy seeing the living room this way." Again, my descriptive/appreciation comments leave the evaluation to her. 

I'm finding value in gradually replacing the "goods" in my own language. And I'm learning that speaking with descriptive/appreciative words is a skill. I haven't eliminated all the "goods" yet, and perhaps I never will. But I'm getting better at it. In fact, I'm getting pretty good! 


5. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


Just for today could you use what is obstructing to do the instructing?


6. The Teacher Talk Seminar [back to top]


The Teacher Talk System announces the following open seminars:

Achievement Motivation and Behavior Management (K-12)

Lansing, MI March 25, 2003
Chicago, IL March 26, 2003
Atlanta, GA March 27, 2003

    • Decrease Discipline Problems
    • Increase Student Motivation
    • Reduce Power Struggles in Your Classroom
    • Increase Student Responsibility for Academic Achievement
    • Learn Practical, Time-Efficient Strategies That Work
    • Add Thinking Questions to All Lessons

The seminars include many Teacher Talk ideas and the Sounds of Spirit Whispering. Email to request a detailed brochure.



7. Manage Your Subscription [back to top]


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8. Fact [back to top]


In America one public school student is suspended every second.


9. Book Report [back to top]


Principal Deb Keller of Saint Joseph Academy in Adrian, Michigan, purchased a copy of "Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit" for each member of her staff. The book has been the focus of recent staff meetings with discussions revolving around major principles and application of ideas.

As a special gift for each teacher, Deb made bookmarks that show the school logo and contain a quote from "Spirit Whisperers." She used the following quotes:

"A Spirit Whisperer believes that to teach effectively, she must address the entire trilogy of a child's mind, body, and spirit."

"Spirit Whisperers care more about a student's attitude and energy than they do about his ability to memorize."

"Spirit Whisperers believe that all behavior equals a choice and that 'I am' is more important than I.Q."

"Spirit Whisperers are 'way showers.' They show us that education can be much more than ranking, rating, and judging our unique children."


To find out more about books, tapes, and materials by Chick Moorman, contact him at (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or on the web at


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