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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 29
April 8, 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]


"Passive acceptance of the teacher's wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favour of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position."

---- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)


2. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


What if your main purpose was to help this student become aware of and create his or her purpose?

Are you doing that on purpose?


3. Facts [back to top]


One in three children in America is behind a year or more in school.


4. Essay Contest [back to top]


"MY TEACHER IS THE BEST" Essay Contest is running its "My Teacher Is the Best" Essay Contest for the second year in a row. By writing a short essay about their favorite middle school teacher, 7, and 8 can win two new laptop computers -- one for themselves and one for the teacher they write about.

What makes a good teacher? Why? Tell us about your favorite teacher and win! The contest is open to public school (includes public charter schools) students in grades 6, 7, and 8 only. Essays must be submitted by May 31st and may be no longer than 250 words.

Last year, received over 2,400 entries from students across the country. This year, they'd like to get even more, so please help them spread the word. To learn more about the contest and find out how to enter, visit: Source: Public Education Network Weekly Newsblast


5. Bumper Sticker [back to top]


Spotted on a Chevy Nova on US 23, heading north near Howell, MI: Take your inner child to work today.


6. Obituary [back to top]


In Memory of Pre-K Naps Pre-K Naps died today, ending a long struggle with the growing pressure to make preschool more rigorous. The sounds of classical piano music gently coaxing young children to sleep will no longer be heard. Spider Man and Powerpuff blankets, mats, and cots are now a thing of the past. The daily ritual, once prominent in schools across the country, appears to be a luxury that three- and four-year-olds will no longer enjoy. Once a pillar of preschool education, Pre-K Naps passed away in shame, being ridiculed in her later years as "baby school stuff." The pressure for school achievement and the test-prep mentality of our times hastened her passing. Accolades for her years of service with young children continue to pour in. A boon to toddlers and young children who are often overscheduled and who need but don't get 10 to12 hours of sleep a night, Pre-K Naps was greatly appreciated for much of her life. Small children, who need to rest their minds, will miss her presence. Fittingly, she died in her sleep while taking a nap.


7. Training Opportunity: Helping Parents Learn Verbal Skills [back to top]


WANTED: Training facilitators to learn the Parent Talk System's Language of Response-Able Parenting model. GOAL: To help parents learn effective verbal skills to use with their children.

Take a giant step toward helping the parents in your school. Become a skilled facilitator of the Parent Talk System by attending our summer facilitator training. Join the growing number of people from around the world (USA, Mexico, Spain, and Australia) who have learned how to help parents raise responsible, caring, confident children. We will help you learn to put the highly effective Parent Talk skills into the hands of parents in your school, church, or organization. You will leave this three-day training with the skills and confidence to touch the hearts and minds of parents in your community!

Parent Talk System Training Details: July 29, 30, 31 Dearborn, MI Spring Arbor University Campus

Facilitated by Chick Moorman and Judith Minton

Limited to 25 participants. Graduate credit available.

To request a detailed brochure, email (Be sure to include your mailing address.)


8. Article: Outstanding Attitude [back to top]


By Chick Moorman

Sitting on the front porch at a friend's house in the late afternoon recently, I was privileged to be part of an interesting educational exchange. As my friend and I caught up on the significant events of each other's lives, a school bus pulled up in front of her house. My friend's two daughters descended the school bus stairs and began the walk from the road to the house.

As the girls approached the house, the older one, a tenth grader, began waving a paper and calling excitedly to her mother. "Look what I got!" she cried. "An award from my writing teacher! It says I have an outstanding attitude!"

My friend made appropriate congratulatory remarks as the award was passed to us for examination. Sure enough, Mindy had been presented with an 8 x10 suitable-for-framing award. It contained these words: "Presented to Mindy Clark on March 21st, 2004, for OUTSTANDING ATTITUDE in Creative Writing class." It was signed by the teacher.

Both mom and daughter were quite pleased with the written confirmation. That's when I stuck my nose in.

"What did you get that for, Mindy?" I asked.

"Having an outstanding attitude," she replied.

"So what exactly is an outstanding attitude?" I pressed.

"It means I have a good attitude in writing class."

"What was good about your attitude?"

"What do you mean?"

"I realize that your teacher thinks you have an outstanding attitude, and I assume you probably do. But what I want to know is, what do you have to do to get that award?"

"You have to have an outstanding attitude."

"How does someone know if you have an outstanding attitude or not?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Mindy, what if one of your girlfriends came up to you and asked what she would have to do, what behaviors she would have to demonstrate, to win that award next month? What would you tell her to do?"

"I'd tell her to have an outstanding attitude, a really good attitude, every day."

I began to realize that Mindy, age 15 and an honor roll student, had no idea why she had received the award. She did not know what behaviors of hers produced it. She did not know what behaviors to repeat to earn another outstanding attitude award.

Happy Grams, Good Student awards, and Super Star papers are handed out to students by well-intentioned teachers in kindergarten, in fourth grade, and in high school — throughout the grades. Regardless of the grade level, the awards have little meaning.

Awards that contain words like "excellent," "super," "tremendous" "fantastic," and "good" are one teacher's evaluation of a student in a given area. These kinds of words provide students with little useful data as to why they received the awards. In fact, when awards use evaluative language, students are more likely to view their teachers as responsible for creating the awards than to view themselves as having inspired them by demonstrating specific behaviors.

I have no doubt that Mindy has an outstanding attitude in her writing class. And I also have no doubt that her teacher's evaluation was based on specific behaviors. I'll bet Mindy turned her papers in on time, entered frequently into class discussions, asked questions, stayed on task, did in-depth work, and/or followed directions. When you give awards, strengthen your praise by adding descriptive comments. What was good about the paper? Why was the report fantastic? What behaviors made the effort super? If you give a student an award for honesty, dependability, or promptness, go on to describe what it was they did that was honest, dependable, or prompt. By specifically describing accomplishments, you affirm what has been done rather than evaluate it. In so doing, you allow students to draw their own conclusions. You give them room to make self-evaluations, and you help them connect their behaviors to the accolades.

If you follow this suggestion, give yourself an OUTSTANDING TEACHER award. And when you do, be sure to describe what is was you did behaviorally to earn it.

Feel free to print and distribute the above article as long as you attach the following tag line:

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


9. Newsletter Archives [back to top]


Did you miss a past issue of our Response-Able Educator Newsletter?

Not to worry! You can now find all 28 past Educator Newsletters in the Archives section of my Web site at Here are some meaningful topics you will find in previous issues:

    • A Safe and Orderly Environment A redefinition of "safe."
    • The Best/Worst Class Applying Teacher Talk to teachers.
    • Blockers The story of a sub who helped students develop an internal sense of accountability.
    • Body, Mind, and Spirit A physical education teacher who teaches kids, not "gym."
    • 'Cause I'm Good at It Is there value in teaching things kids are already good at?
    • The Day I Changed My Mind About Myself How one teacher made a huge difference in Chick's life.
    • The Drama Within the Drama A drama teacher turns a performance disaster into a learning windfall.
    • Eighteen Ninety-Two Creating hands-on learning from local opportunities.
    • ICM Buttons "I Can Manage" — A great tool for increasing personal responsibility.
    • Illegal Word Bursts Consistent teacher responses help shape students' behavior.
    • Labs in Cooperation A way of viewing cooperative education as a lesson in itself.
    • Let Them Cheat Why "Cheat Control" in classrooms doesn't work and fails to produce an internal standard of integrity in the student.
    • Let's Hear It for Insomnia Story of win/win peer tutoring.
    • Move Up Before You Move In The best way to avoid a battle with your students is to rise above it.
    • Mummy Ball Explains how teachers can use a simple game of catch to help students develop an internal standard.
    • Rest in Peace Tells of the teacher who created an "I Can't" funeral to help students relinquish their "I Can't" stance toward life. Published in "Chicken Soup for the Soul #1."
    • Rightansweritis Defines and offers prescriptions for the dreaded educational disease rightansweritis.
    • Saying the "S" Word A great teacher response to swearing.
    • She Had to Act Tale of a teacher skilled in anger management.
    • So What's So Good About Good? Explains the differences between evaluative, descriptive, and appreciative praise. Helps teachers and parents change global praise to specific comments that focus on behaviors.
    • Spirit Whisperer's 2004 Resolutions New Year's resolutions for Spirit Whisperers.
    • Teaching to a Child's Spirit Practical ideas to help your students get the power of Spirit working in their lives.


10. We Get Email [back to top]


Hello Mr. Moorman,

I am hoping you can help me with a problem I am having. I am a first-year teacher and wanting to do things well. But I am finding that some of the techniques they taught me in college don't always work.

Yesterday, one of my middle schoolers was showing off and attracting much student attention. I ignored it, which is the first thing I was taught to do. He kept it up, so I implemented proximity behavior and moved closer to him. While moving in his direction, I gave him strong eye contact as I continued to teach. He persisted in his behavior. I did not interrupt my lecture and moved right by his desk. When I stood there by him, he quieted down temporarily. As I moved away, he started up again.

I am frustrated. What am I doing wrong? I did everything they said to do in college. Any ideas on things I could do or say?

First-Year Arizona Teacher

Dear First-Year Arizona Teacher,

Welcome to the real world! As you have already figured out, there is a gap between theory and practice.

The strategies you used can be effective with many students. Sometimes ignoring the behavior is all you need to do. At other times proximity behavior mixed with strong eye contact will work. These steps are definitely worth the effort. In instances when these techniques fail to produce the desired behavior, add some carefully designed Teacher Talk to the mix.

I suggest you approach the student and tell him in a soft voice, "Your behavior is disrupting the class. Please make a different choice." This communication does not tell the student what to do. The silent message here is, "I see you as intelligent enough to figure out an appropriate choice. Please make one." This style of communication respects the student by trusting that he can come up with an appropriate choice. It also allows you to respect yourself by stating your needs and making it clear you expect a different choice.

If this Teacher Talk does not produce the behavior change you desire, use your verbal skills to give him some choices. Again, in a soft voice state, "You can choose to sit quietly, or you can choose a detention. It's up to you. You decide." Then walk away and continue your teaching. If he persists in the behavior, tell him, "I see you choose a detention. Here is your slip." This will keep you from getting into a power struggle with this student, and it will keep the responsibility for the detention where it belongs, squarely on his shoulders.

Best wishes for a successful first year.

Sincerely, Chick Moorman

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. Quantity discounts are available.


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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