Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able teacher
and developing Response-Able students.
"If we distrust the human being, then we must cram him with information
of our own choosing lest he go his own mistaken way. But if we trust the
capacity of the human individual for developing his own potentiality,
then we can permit him the opportunity to choose his own way in his learning."
2. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back
What if the main purpose of learning to read is to enable us to read
ourselves? Are your students learning to read?
Over 100 million plus children worldwide have never spent a day in school.
Close ties, a sense of belonging, and feelings of family created at
school reduce the likelihood of drug use, violence, and early sex, according
to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Students who
attend junior high and high schools with fewer than 1200 students are
less likely than students who attend more populous schools to engage in
risky behavior involving drugs, violence, and sex. Feeling more closely
connected to their teachers and to one another, these students are less
isolated and develop more personal relationships.
Spotted on a Chevy Blazer in the Milan, MI, public library parking lot:
My cat is smarter than your honor roll student.
The hitchhiker who sucks his thumb never gets anywhere.
By Chick Moorman
I have antennae that notice things like this, so it came as no surprise
when I spotted the ICM button on a middle school student in a crowded
hallway in western Nebraska.
The button was 4 inches in diameter and contained only three letters,
capitals: ICM. I had no idea what the button was intended to communicate.
For all I knew, the letters were really Roman numerals; or maybe the button
was related to an upcoming school election. Curious about its significance,
I decided to ask.
"What do you have there?" I asked the adolescent who was wearing
"It's an ICM button," he informed me in a tone putting me on
the answer to my question was obvious.
"What do the letters stand for?" I continued. "What does
"ICM stands for 'I Can Manage.' Did you know I managed to bring
materials to class three days in a row? I can manage my materials."
"Congratulations," I offered.
"Where did you get that button?" I continued.
"My teacher, Mrs. Chen, gave it to me."
"How do I find this teacher?" I asked, hoping to get pointed
in the right
"Follow me. I'm on my way to class now."
As I entered the classroom of the teacher who gives students ICM buttons,
realized she was a special education teacher. She and an aide worked with
15 students in this special needs classroom.
After introducing myself as the afternoon staff development speaker,
right to my agenda.
"I met one of your students in the hall," I explained. "He
was wearing an
ICM button. Can you tell me about those?"
"Oh, that was Luis," she said. "I gave him one for managing
He's been working really hard on that, and I thought he deserved some
positive recognition. ICM stands for 'I Can Manage.' One of the things
we're working on in here is managing ourselves. Sometimes I give the
buttons to students for managing their time, their mouths, or even for
managing to be where they're supposed to be at any given moment. Managing
tempers, words, supplies, or the cleanup effort have also resulted in
receiving an ICM button from time to time. I gave one out last week when
one of my students walked across the room to the pencil sharpener and
without hitting, kicking, or poking. I gave it to her for managing her
hands and feet."
As I explored the ICM button phenomenon with Mrs. Chen, I found she
distributed them indiscriminately. There was no set schedule. There was
number of points to be earned in order to get one. Some weeks none were
awarded, other weeks several were distributed. When Mrs. Chen felt one
deserved, she gave it. Students kept the buttons for three days and wore
I also learned that Mrs. Chen had enlisted the aid of all the other adults
in the building. Anyone who taught, served lunch, helped out in the
library, worked in the office, or handled discipline in the school was
honor bound to go up to any students they saw wearing ICM buttons and
them where they got the buttons and what the buttons stood for. Failure
do so would land them in trouble with Mrs. Chen.
Thus, any student wearing an ICM button could expect to be asked several
times a day, "Where did you get that? What does it stand for?"
was then able to say frequently, "I can manage. I can manage my materials."
I wonder if Judy Chen ever rewards herself with an ICM button. I hope
hope she wears it proudly in the halls of her school. And if someone comes
up and asks her what it stands for, I hope she tells them, "That's
button. It means I can manage. I can manage my classroom by encouraging
positive behaviors in my students."
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 email@example.com to get your free
subscription to one or both newsletters.
8. Changing the Face of Our Voice [back to top]
Frances A. Miller
Elizabethtown Area School District
PCDC Board Member
Often, teachers will attend conferences, workshops, or classes and return
with a sense of renewal. One teacher with whom I work approached me shortly
after participating in a Master's level class, bursting with excitement.
She was learning about empowering students through the use of selective
language. This philosophy is based on the research of Chick Moorman and
Nancy Weber and is explained in their book, "Teacher Talk."
the book and seeing the difference it made in this teacher's classroom
well as how nicely it fit in with a school goal, the decision was made
use the book with all staff members in the building.
The book is organized in mini-chapters. Each chapter is entitled with
appropriate phrase, which is then discussed on the next few pages. For
example, one chapter is entitled, "Check Yourself." The chapter
how and when to use that phrase.
At Mill Road Elementary School, we met as a staff during the summer and
decided to create a school goal that focused on promoting positive
communication among all members of the school community. The "Teacher
book study was the perfect vehicle to establish the development of a
consistent language between the staff and students that focused on student
empowerment. So teachers, instructional aides, noontime aides, and reading
assistants were all given a copy of "Teacher Talk." During the
faculty meeting, we discussed the first five phrases or statements. Support
staff had their own meeting to discuss the first five phrases too. We
continue to use in-service time and early dismissals to work our way
through the book. After learning the "why" behind each phrase,
we do our
best to "own" the phrase by using it in a consistent and pervasive
The change in the building has been incredible. In just six weeks faculty
and staff are using the same language to give students an opportunity
reflect on their own behavior and to make appropriate choices. As the
principal, I can tell the shift is occurring as I observe in classrooms
listen to teachers talk with students in the hallway. This shift is not
always easy, since we often want to fall back on our old habits in order
solve a problem.
One day, several third-grade students were quite noisy while in the
bathroom. I just happened to walk by when I heard one teacher say to
another teacher, "I know I'm supposed to say something, but I am
what it is." I left the situation feeling hopeful, because in my
hearing a member of my faculty become tongue-tied was evidence that a
The boy's bathroom seems to be a hotspot for mischief, so we decided
post signs that had "teacher talk" on them in order to remind
to choose appropriate behavior. The signs read, "Are you using appropriate
behavior? Check yourself." and "You are responsible for you.
yourself." Within several days, my custodian came to me and told
found all of the signs in the trash can. I was devastated! I really wanted
to call all of the boys together and admonish them for tearing down signs
that the principal had posted. After all, this was disrespectful behavior.
Instead, I chose to meet with all the boys in that wing of the building.
After they were seated, I told them they had to decide what they wanted
occur when they were in the bathroom. They had to choose between making
a safe place to be and making it a place where students would be concerned
about what would happen while they were there. I told them I was going
post the signs again. If the signs remained on the walls, I would then
that the students were choosing to have a safe bathroom. If the signs
placed in the trash can and the mischief continued, then that would be
signal to me that students were choosing to have an unsafe bathroom.
To this day, the signs remain posted on the walls and the bathroom problems
have stopped. The students are proud of this choice, as evidenced by the
many times I am stopped in the hallway by students stating, "It's
well in the bathroom today, Mr. Miller: The signs are still there!"
This initiative began as a small seed planted within a teacher during
staff development opportunity. The teacher saw the value of the information
learned and took the initiative to pass it along. Now our students leave
the building better equipped to assess a situation and make a good choice
followed by an appropriate action to benefit the school community. We
continue to work on empowering our students while setting limits and
modeling appropriate behavior. We are hopeful our students will value
life skills of tact, informed decision making, and listening to their
(Reprinted from the Pennsylvania Staff Development Council newsletter,
4, Winter 2004.)
(Teachers and administrators wishing to improve their verbal interaction
with students are encouraged to order our book "Teacher Talk: What
Really Means." "Teacher Talk" is available from Personal
Power Press for
$13.00. Call (toll-free) 877-360-1477. Purchase orders accepted.
Quantity discounts are available.
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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 www.chickmoorman.com.
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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses
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