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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 24
October 21, 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]


"Children can't be expected to leave the unhappy and angry parts of themselves at the door before coming in. We all need to feel that we can bring the whole of ourselves to the people who care about us."

----Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)


2. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


What if the thirst that exists within your classroom is for connection? Are there ways your students can connect to you, to one another, to the material, and to themselves?


3. Teacher Talk Seminar Schedule [back to top]


Please join me for an EXTRAORDINARY day dealing with "Achievement Motivation and Behavior Management (K-12)."

The Teacher Talk System announces the following open seminars:

Lansing, Michigan, November 19, 2003 Atlanta, Georgia, November 20, 2003 St. Louis, Missouri, November 21, 2003

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

Includes many Teacher Talk ideas and the Sounds of Spirit Whispering.

Request a detailed brochure by emailing or calling (toll-free) 877-360-1477.


4. Facts [back to top]


Almost one third of teachers leave the field within their first three years of teaching, and one half of new teachers leave before their fifth year, according to a report from the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future.


5. Report Cards[back to top]


"Satisfactory" or "Needs Attention" are two new categories that teachers will mark on report cards in the Philadelphia School District this year. They will be recording those grades in a section called "Home Support," which is designed to give parents feedback on how much support they are giving from home.

Paul G. Vargas, the district's chief executive officer, said, "The home support component was added to give parents gentle reminders about what their children need at home."

Areas to be assessed include:

    • Does the child appear rested?
    • Is he or she getting proper attention for vision or hearing problems?
    • Do parents respond to notes or phone calls?
    • Does the child have the necessary supplies, including pencils and notebooks?
    • Does the child complete homework assignments?

This home support section of students' report cards is being used in kindergarten through eighth grade. No decision has yet been made on whether to use the parent report cards in high school.


6. Humor [back to top]


Bumper sticker spotted in Dallas, TX:

My Labrador Retriever is smarter than your honor roll student.


7. Newsletter for Couples [back to top]


To celebrate the publication of our new book, "Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship," Thomas Haller and I have decided to create an E-newsletter for couples. This monthly venture, called "Couple Talk," will be similar to the educator newsletter you are currently reading. Thomas will edit the newsletter, and I will contribute articles and tips from time to time.

To subscribe to "Couple Talk," email and ask to be added to the Couple Talk Newsletter.


8. Article: The Drama Within the Drama [back to top]


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 happened.

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 beings.

"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.

Chick Moorman is the author of "Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit" and "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility." The books are available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477. Chick Moorman also publishes a FREE E-newsletter for parents as well as this one for educators. Contact him at to get your free subscription to one or both newsletters.


Chick Moorman is available to keynote your fall staff development meeting, conference, or recognition dinner. Contact him at or call (toll-free) 877-360-1477. Full-day seminars include the following topics: "Teaching for Respect and Responsibility," "Achievement Motivation and Behavior Management," and "Celebrate the Spirit Whisperers."


9. Question and Response [back to top]


Hello, Chick,

I'm a Montessori teacher with children ranging from 2 to 6 years of age. I often use the verbiage, "I like the way Linda is sitting," during circle time. I follow that with, "How do you feel about controlling yourself?" I understand you don't recommend, "I like the way Linda is sitting." Could you suggest any other Teacher Talk I could use in this situation?

Thank you, A Caring Professional

Hello, Caring Professional,

As you know from reading "Teacher Talk," my main objection to "I like the way Linda is sitting" is that it is manipulative. It is an effort to manipulate all the other children into sitting the same way that Linda is sitting. Saying "I like the way Linda is sitting" creates a situation in which Linda is being used to control her classmates.

If your goal is to get others to sit the way you desire, tell them directly: "I need everyone sitting with their hands in their laps looking up here at me." Demonstrate what you want. Ask students to imitate you. Have them sit the desired way, then sit any old way. Then have them sit the desired way again, then return to some other way. Practice several times. If you want a behavior, you have to teach a behavior.

If you really intend to give Linda feedback on how she is sitting, tell her privately. That way you can be sure you are not using your Teacher Talk for manipulation.

Instead of "How do you feel about controlling yourself?" I suggest the Check Yourself Response. Say, "Please check yourself and see if you are sitting like this." Then demonstrate it. Or say, "Please check yourself and see if you are sitting up straight with your hands folded." This way you teach your students that it is their job to check on themselves, that they are in charge of their own bodies and their own personal space.

Sincerely, Chick


10. Thought of the Day [back to top]


If you're not green and growing, you might be ripe and rotting.


11. Manage Your Subscription [back to top]


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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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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or on the web at


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