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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 27
January 23, 2004


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]


"Good learning has to do with atmospheres of hope rather than fear; feelings of adventure rather than sameness; and newness rather than custom."



2. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


Where do you see confusion today? Can you teach with confusion, through confusion, to confusion? When learning something new, where would be a better place to begin, with confusion or with knowing? Does your teaching reflect your answer to that question?


3. Facts [back to top]


U.S. teachers spend much more time reviewing previously taught material than teachers of almost any other nation. On average, fully 53 percent of lesson time in the U.S. consists of review. By contrast, teachers in Japan, the highest test-scoring country in the world, spend only 24 percent of lesson time on review.

----U.S. Department of Education


4. Tone Week [back to top]


Teachers and administrators in one Pennsylvania school are increasing the number of positive responses they give to students and to one another. Motivated by research that shows teachers across the country verbally comment at a ratio of three negatives to one positive, this staff has instituted TONE Week. TONE, an acronym for "Turn On Nice Expressions," is an effort by the staff to speak in ways that communicate respect for students and increase the number of positive comments to which they are exposed. Naturally, the positive comments are to be delivered with a positive tone.

(Teachers and administrators wishing to improve their verbal interaction with students are encouraged to order our book "Teacher Talk: What It Really Means." "Teacher Talk" is available from Personal Power Press for $13.00. Call (toll-free) 877-360-1477. Purchase orders accepted.)


5. Book Report [back to top]


Occasionally at one of my workshops I will overhear colleagues having fun by putting one another down. Around the registration table and over coffee, they will jab at each other with remarks like:

"I see you got here all right. Did your mother wake you up?"

"Look out, klutz, or you'll spill the coffee."

"Hey, can't you even spell your name right?"

This fun-poking way to begin the morning seems friendly enough at first glance. Behind this "affectionate" name calling, however, is a serious situation that is harmful to both the joker and the brunt of the joke.

Put-downs of any nature are destructive. There is no such thing as affectionate name-calling. What is said in supposed jest is simply a poorly veiled attempt to put another person down. Each statement contains a bit of truth recognized by both the sender and the receiver

Eliminate put-downs from your Teacher Talk, with colleagues as well as with students.

(If you liked the above idea, you will love Chick Moorman's "Talk Sense to Yourself: The Language of Personal Power." The book is available for $13.00 through Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477, or at


6. For Administrators Only [back to top]


Administrators: When you organize a training for your teachers, get involved. Staff members resent it when you sit on the sidelines and watch as they go through the training. The silent message your noninvolvement communicates is, "You need this stuff, but I don't."

When I do "Respect and Responsibility" seminars, I insist that everyone in the room do the exercises and stay involved. That policy holds even if it's the meeting planner's third time through the workshop. It is important that you model active involvement for participants.


7. Idea Swap: Mystery Teachers [back to top]


By Kathy Jordan

On the first day of November a bowl of dogfood, a bottle of sinus medication, and a toy canoe appeared in the front hall showcase at our school. November was Mystery Month, and mystery books were being featured and read in the media center. Posters advertising mystery books filled the halls.

What were the strange objects that had appeared in the showcase? If you're a super sleuth, you've probably already guessed they were clues to the identities of our school's "mystery teachers."

Each day of the week a new clue was added on each shelf of the showcase for mystery teachers one, two, and three. By Friday the showcase held a strange collection of items. A bowl of dogfood, lipsticks, needlepoint, "The Secret Garden," and a duck decoy represented the mysterious identity of teacher number one. A toy canoe, a jigsaw puzzle, "Island of the Blue Dolphins," a yogurt container, and a picture of an airplane were clues on the second shelf to mystery teacher number two's identity. The third shelf contained sinus medicine, a tennis ball, a bowl of Cheerios, a latch hook rug, and a ukulele to hint at the identity of mystery teacher number three.

The entire population of the school became involved in solving the mystery teachers' identities. The mystery became the talk of the teachers' lounge, the school hallways, and many dinner tables around our town. There were no ballots. Students and teachers were encouraged to be private detectives and keep their opinions to themselves. They would "win" if they could figure out the teachers' identities by Friday, and their reward would be the satisfaction of knowing they had solved a mystery.

On Friday biographical sketches of the three mystery teachers were read over the intercom. The sketches incorporated the significance of the clues and concluded with the name of each mystery teacher.

We continued the mystery teacher activity until all the teachers in our building got a turn. The activity definitely helped teachers get acquainted with one another and also helped students get to know their teachers. It caused the teachers to become more human in the minds of the students, and it created a greater degree of connectedness among everyone in our building.


8. 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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