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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 41

May 4, 2005

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Welcome! This is a free newsletter about becoming a Response-Able educator who develops Response-Able students.


Our 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
2. Bumper Sticker
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation
4. Sign Language
5. Teacher Talk: "You just lost ten minutes."
6. Thought of the Day
7. Article: I Can Do Something
8. Spirit Whisperer Search
9. Did You Know?
10. Schedule of Events

1. Quote

"The school's task is to cultivate in students the intellectual, creative, and aesthetic faculties of the individual; to develop in students the ability to make correct use of judgment, will and affectivity; to promote in them a sense of values; to encourage just attitudes and prudent behavior; to introduce them to cultural patrimony handed down from previous generations; to prepare them for their working lives; and to encourage friendly interchange among students of diverse cultures and backgrounds that will lead to mutual understanding and love."

----Pope John Paul II

2. Bumper Sticker

Spotted on a black Pontiac Montana in Waterford, MI:

Clinton Girls Basketball

Dedication - Determination - Desire

3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation

Maybe this particular situation with this particular student had to surface before it could be worked through and released. Maybe this situation is the most important thing that will happen to her this year. Maybe it is no accident that it came up in front of you.

4. Sign Language

A. Observed on a middle-school bulletin board:

There aren't any rules to success that work unless you do.

B. Seen on a t-shirt worn by a staff member at an in-service at Bedford, MI:

Front side:

Bedford Softball

Back side:

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise,
Risking more than others think is safe,
Dreaming more than others think is practical, and
Expecting more than others think is possible.

C. Noticed in an English teacher's classroom:

Use hyphens in compound-words, not just where two-words are related.

D. Posted in the entryway at Bedford High School in Temperance, MI:

Enter to learn.
Depart to serve.

E. Spotted on a wall in a gym/lunchroom:

Over weight doesn't happen over night.
It snacks up on you.

5. Teacher Talk: "You just lost ten minutes."

In one fourth-grade classroom I recently observed, the entire class lost ten minutes of recess time because two students chose not to quiet down upon request. This type of discipline, losing physical education or recess minutes, is used in many classrooms around the country. The rationale is that if students are threatened with losing part of the school day they enjoy, they will conform to the adult's wishes.

This "discipline"method is often employed when students are slow to quiet themselves, follow directions, or end disruptive behaviors. The Teacher Talk includes:

"There goes your gym period."

"That's five minutes. Do you want me to subtract more?"

"Hey, go ahead, fool around. I don't care if you miss gym today."

"Sounds to me like you don't want recess today."

"You two are going to be responsible for keeping the whole class in."

Teachers who withhold recess or physical education probably do not realize that physical activity is critical to intellectual development. The brain is part of a larger biological system and cannot function to capacity if the entire system is not working at top efficiency. Daily physical activity is essential to learning. A body that is awake, alert, and physically fit is more receptive to learning. When teachers take away gym and recess in an effort to manipulate students, they undermine their own goal of developing student intellect.

The "You just lost five minutes"strategy pits one child against the others, as the majority often turns on the perpetrator. While some educators use this form of peer pressure to control students, we see it as divisive and counterproductive to producing classroom unity and a sense of oneness.

The students who most often lose recess are the ones who most need it. They need an opportunity to blow off steam. They need constructive ways to erupt so they do not disrupt in the classroom. Problem-solving, listening, planning, understanding, and positive attention are more effective in these situations.

You lose the respect of your students when you take recess away. Students recognize the unfairness and incongruence in this method of control and often retaliate through passive- aggressive behaviors such as resentment, reluctance, and resistance.

Listen to your Teacher Talk this week. Does it reflect an effort to manipulate students by threatening them with the loss of gym or recess? If so, ask yourself if that language is really getting you where you want to go as a professional educator. Is that really who you want to be?

(Teacher Talk: What It Really Means, by Chick Moorman and Nancy Weber, is available from Personal Power Press at 1-877-360-1277 or

6. Thought of the Day

Do you find it interesting that the No Child Left Behind Act uses threats, punishment, and public comparisons to motivate school staffs to change their behaviors and results? How well would it be received if teachers used threats, punishment, and public comparisons to motivate students to improve? The No Child Left Behind Act treats the education establishment in a way that enlightened educators would never use with students. Could it be that we know a lot more about quality education than the people who wrote that act?

Chick Moorman7. Article: I Can Do Something

I Can Do Something

By Chick Moorman

If you happened to be downtown in a rural Michigan city not too long ago, you might have been handed a sheet of paper that read:

Your Life or Pollution

Your life or pollution, one of them is going to win. If you think that pollution will never take over, you are wrong.

Right now in 2005, chemicals could be eating up your liver, giving you cancer, or causing birth defects. There are a lot more pollution problems like this that are dangerous to your health.

If we don't start taking action now, we are going to wipe ourselves out.

If you are concerned about your own health, then get a piece of paper and pencil and write to your senator. See if he can get companies to STOP dumping chemicals into our lakes and rivers.

Rebecca Smithson

If you escaped the experience of having Rebecca hand you a copy of her position paper on pollution, chances are one of the other eighth graders gave you one of theirs. Their effort was the culminating class activity done under the direction of Social Studies/Language Arts teachers Brian Armstrong and William Hedler.

Brian and William team-teach government in a middle school. Their philosophy is not to "teach"government, but rather to let students "live"government. One of their objectives is to have students come to the conclusion that government works. They believe that middle-school students can learn that even thirteen-year-olds can take some action, have some input, and experience some degree of influence. In short, they want kids to feel, "I can do something."

Pollution became their vehicle--their delivery system--to help students see that government works. For the first few weeks of school, the eighth graders studied pollution. They watched videos, listened to tapes, heard lectures, participated in class discussions, searched the Internet, worked in groups, created projects, and took tests.

Once the students had learned about the issues of pollution, they were challenged to do something about it. As part of their "learn by doing"philosophy, Brian and William gave the students three action choices: write a letter to a representative, role-play a court case on pollution, or create a position paper to be handed out to the community. Students were required to choose two of the three activities.

Students choosing the position paper were to create a piece of literature that revealed an understanding of a current pollution problem. It must contain no grammatical or spelling errors. The first draft was checked by the teachers. Papers containing errors were rewritten as many times as was necessary to eliminate them. When rewrites were completed and final OK's given, 15 copies were made of each.

Before the students went downtown to share the literature with the community, they discussed situations that might develop. What do you do if someone gets angry and yells at you? How should you respond to indifference? Do's and don'ts were role-played. Courtesy was stressed.

The trip downtown required parental permission slips. Most students obtained them. Some did not.

During each class period during the day, students and their teachers walked the eight blocks from school to the downtown area. In groups of two and three, the students were assigned a distribution spot. The bank, the post office, and the stores were all covered. Students were to remain at their posts until the signal to return was given.

As community members approached a store, students would make a verbal contact and share the handout with them. They informed the adults that the literature was about pollution and asked that they read it later. Politeness reigned.

When the handouts were gone and the hour-and-a-half class period was about finished, the group began the walk back to the school. A park along the route served as a convenient spot to debrief the experience. Students and teachers sat on the picnic tables and discussed what happened during the exercise.

One student was excited about the discussion she had with a citizen, enabling her to explain fully the project and her position paper.

Another student stated that one person told him, "No, thanks, I don't need anymore trash."

Other reported comments from the community members included:

"If you're so concerned about pollution, why don't you pick up that can over there?"

"Yeah, I'm concerned about pollution, but I wish you'd clean it up instead of just passing out papers."

One storeowner questioned the students' right to use his sidewalk without permission. One citizen took the paper, flipped his cigarette butt into the street, and headed into the bank. Another person commented favorably and asked the student to come to school to share his views on pollution. A businessman approached one teacher and pointed out a spelling error. One woman wondered why the students weren't back in school learning something.

Citizen response and student experiences were varied. Yet commonalities existed. Each student had taken a stand. Each student had done something about a perceived problem. Each student had participated as an active, caring citizen.

Later that day, a group of Camp Fire Girls was observed picking up trash around the community. It was no coincidence that their leader was downtown earlier that day. She had received several position papers. She also received the message that was modeled by this group of eighth- graders. The youth leader was passing that message on to her Camp Fire Girls. One of the best ways to come to believe I CAN DO SOMETHING is simply to go out and do something.

Chick Moorman is the author of Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit and co-author of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose (Personal Power Press, toll-free, 877-360-1477).

Spirit Whisperers Book

Preview at

8. Spirit Whisperer Search

Do you know a Spirit Whisperer? We want to know about them. Consider your nomination of a Spirit Whisperer as "positive tattling."

Win an exciting professional educator "staff pack"of 15 Spirit Whisperer books if we use your idea in the newsletter or in the compilations of Spirit Whisperer stories on the website.

A Spirit Whisperer is any adult who teaches to a child's spirit. A Spirit Whisperer believes that to teach effectively he or 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. A student's sense of personal power, degree of belief in herself, and level of personal responsibility command more of a Spirit Whisperer's attention than facts and reasons for historical events. Spirit Whisperers care more deeply about helping children acquire a spirit of inquiry and a zest for life than they do about the accumulation of answers to trivia questions. Helping students develop an appreciation of diversity and an understanding of the concepts of self-responsibility, integrity, self-expression, awareness, oneness, and conscious creation becomes a Spirit Whisperer's mission.

A Spirit Whisperer's primary objective is always development of the student's spirit. He or she focuses on the power of belief, developing an "I can" attitude, creating an internal standard, and teaching and modeling a solution-seeking mindset. Spirit Whisperers believe that all behavior equals a choice, that being is as important as doing, and that power with is more effective than power over. They set up their classrooms so youngsters can learn that the classroom is more than a place of discovery, it is a place of creation -- the creation of who they are as human beings.

Send your Spirit Whisperer nomination and contact information to Include your name, email address, and the name of the person and reason for their nomination.

9. Did You Know?

The Black Stallion Literary Project is designed to inspire students to read while learning about horses. Check out for interactive educational games and images to teach children about horses.

Teaching kids to read in school is far more humane and cheaper than teaching them to read in prison, where, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Bureau of Justice, 70% of adult inmates are functionally illiterate and 85% of juvenile offenders have serious reading problems.

C. Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are offering a new program for your students' parents. Entitled "Raising a Reader," this two-hour session gives parents practical ideas they can implement immediately to help their children become motivated readers who read because they love it. Contact Tom or Chick at or to begin the discussion of possible dates.

If you book either Thomas Haller or Chick Moorman for a full-day seminar with your teaching staff, they will stay and do a parent program in the evening at no additional charge.

Results of a research study involving sixth-graders with below average reading skills revealed that visual attention therapy significantly improved reading comprehension and test scores by up to two grade levels. This research, reported in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, confirms prior studies indicating that correctible visual problems may strongly contribute to learning disabilities.

You may access many stories of Spirit Whisperers in action by going to Click on Spirit Whisperers. Then click on Spirit Whisperer Idea Exchange.

Copyright 2005 Chick Moorman Seminars and Thomas Haller Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.


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