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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 42

June 4, 2005

Mission Statement

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. Article: "You Just Got a Detention."
6. Tip of the Day
7. Did You Know?
8. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You


1. Quote

"In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is acquired. In pursuit of wisdom, every day something is dropped."

---Lao Tse

2. Bumper Sticker
Spotted on a white Pontiac Montana in Scottsdale, AZ:

My child was "caught showing good character."
McComb Elementary

3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation

Court uncertainty today. Look for it. Lean into it. Appreciate it.


4. Sign Language

A. Observed on an alternative high school hallway:

You are as honest as your actions.

B. Seen in a guidance counselor's office on the wall:

Be who you choose to be.
Not who others choose to see.

C. Noticed in a middle-school social studies classroom:

Our greatest heroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

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

Seven days without exercise makes one weak.


5. Article: "You Just Got a Detention."

by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

"That's a seventh hour for you, Mr. Jamison."
"You just earned a detention slip."
"It's in-school suspension for you."

Take a close look at the language above. What do you notice about how we choose to describe the places where students are sent for breaking rules or demonstrating inappropriate behavior? We often describe these places using "detention," "suspension," or similar terms. These words and the Teacher Talk above suggest withholding, custody, retention, temporary removal, or a withdrawal of privileges. They have a decidedly punishment-oriented flavor to them.

Our choice of words is important. What we call these programs affects how we see them. Or perhaps how we see them affects what we call them. Either way, how we describe them is critical to our mindset as we design and structure what occurs there.

For instance, imagine that we called the area where students are sent following inappropriate behavior, "The Responsibility Room"? Would it alter how we see that place as well as its function? Would it change what we choose to do with the students who demonstrate behaviors that land them there? We think it would.

In a Responsibility Room, students would come to learn lessons in responsibility. This is not unlike a student's going to the music room to learn music or to the science room to learn science. The name helps define its function. It helps us create the mindset we bring to the designing of what goes on there.

In a Responsibility Room, students would be expected to create a Responsibility Action Plan. That plan would include articulating the choices the student made that got her there in the first place. It would require a stating of the problem and a solution the student is willing to put into effect. Approval by both the student and the teacher would be necessary.

In the Responsibility Action Plan, the student would identify and name the specific behavior that was inappropriate and set a goal for herself to alter it. She would articulate what she will do next time in place of the inappropriate behavior. This piece of the plan would be a stating of what she will do rather than articulating behaviors she will not do. The goal would include specific behavioral indicators so everyone involved could tell whether the goal was being attained. Those indicators would be comprised of what the behavior "looks like" and "sounds like." Each one of those lists would contain several examples.

Students developing a Responsibility Plan in the Responsibility Room would list the steps they plan to implement to achieve their goal. They would put in writing how they will know when they are making progress on the goal.

Student, teacher, and parents would be required to sign the Responsibility Plan.

Imagine a phone call to a parent in your school sounding like this:

"Hello. Mrs. Radison? This is Miss Wilson at the middle school. Richie chose some behaviors this morning that resulted in a Responsibility Room assignment from Mr. Tanner. That means he has a responsibility issue to work on for the rest of the day. He's working on ways to speak more respectfully to other students. He may be bringing a plan home for you to sign tonight. He's right here and he's going to tell you all about it. Here's Richie."

If the student follows through on the plan, he is affirmed and celebrated for his growth in responsibility. If the plan does not work for the student, or if the student does not work the plan, he is assigned another Responsibilty Room experience so he can redo the plan.

By changing the name of in-school suspension (ISS) to Responsibility Room (RR), we change how we perceive it. When our perceptions change, so do our behaviors. Let's end detention and suspension rooms. Let's help students take a big step toward responsibility by taking the first step ourselves. It's time to create the Responsibility Room.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are available to meet with your Discipline Committee or staff to examine this issue in more depth. A consultation day with one of them could be the jumpstart your discipline program needs to put the emphasis on responsibility and help your students take increasing amounts of control over their school lives.


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

Preview at Personal Power Press at

6. Tip of the Day

If you are attending a summer conference and someone offers you a breath mint, take it.


7. Did You Know?

A.) A group of recess advocates has organized a grassroots effort to reinstate recess in elementary school. They sponsor a newsletter, a national conference, and a Web site at .

B.) It's not too early to begin thinking about your back-to-school staff development program. "Celebrate the Spirit Whisperers" is a motivational and reenergizing keynote address that leaves teachers feeling proud to be a professional educator. This reminder about teaching from the heart and being a soul-model for students is a great way to begin the year. August dates fill up fast. Call toll-free 877-360-1477 to secure your program today.

C.) Many FREE stories of Spirit Whisperers are available at The Spirit Whisperer Idea Exchange is designed to recognize Spirit Whisperers and to encourage them to continue to be light bearers, those who shine light on others whose spirit is covered with layers of illusion and fear. It is also intended to provide ideas and techniques that will empower other Spirit Whisperers and enable them to bring more light to the youngsters they love and serve.

Access the Idea Exchange at .

D.) A growing body of research continues to show that one of the most
important determinants influencing academic success is the effectiveness of the teacher.

E.) David Elkind, a professor of child development, states, "There is no research that shows that early academic programs have a lasting positive impact on children. If fact, studies show that the high pressure of early academic programs can result in children with higher anxiety levels and lower self-esteem who are not doing any better academically."

Still, a growing number of parents across the country are hiring tutors for tots. Enrolling preschoolers in tutoring programs, these parents believe they are preparing children for school and helping them become successful.

Could it be that tutors for tots is yet another example of adults enrolling children in programs that meet the needs of the parents rather than the real needs of the children?

F.) Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit has gone back to press for its third printing. Thank you for your support and endorsement of this important book. You have proven once again that the best advertising available is still word of mouth.


8. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

How important is that thank-you letter? John F. Kennedy found out when he was running for the Senate in 1952. His staff had collected 262,324 signatures on nominating petitions from across Massachusetts.

One of Kennedy's campaign managers thought personal thank-you letters should be sent to everyone who signed the petitions. Although it cost a lot of money, Kennedy agreed.

One evening on the campaign trail, Kennedy was approached by a longshoreman who showed him the thank-you note he was carrying in his pocket. "I've been signing nominating papers around here for the last 20 years," the dockworker said. "You're the first guy who ever wrote me a letter thanking me for it."

In 1952, there was a nationwide Republican landslide. Still, Kennedy beat Henry Cabot Lodge by 70,000 votes. Perhaps those thank-you letters put him over the top.

Who could benefit from receiving a thank-you letter from you at the end of this school year? Look over the following list. Are there people here who could use some appreciation?

  • The custodian who cleans your room each night.

  • The cooks who prepare the meals.

  • Your colleague who covered for you when you were late.

  • The staff member who brings flowers into the teachers' room on occasion.

  • The teacher who gave you an idea of how to reach the student you struggled with.

  • The person whose shoulder you cried on when things went poorly.

  • The people who send you free newsletters every month to encourage and assist you.

  • The parents who served as room mothers/fathers.

  • The school secretary for her efforts and energy.

  • The person who hired you for your first teaching job.

Get those stamps and stationery ready. The people who supported you deserve your support. It's as simple as thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are available to keynote your conference or present one of their highly acclaimed full-day seminars for your building or district staff.

Their most popular seminars are:

  • Transforming Aggression in Children

  • Celebrate the Spirit Whisperers

  • Teaching for Respect and Responsibility

  • Brain Functioning Behavior in Children

  • Achievement Motivation and Behavior Management

Contact them at or to begin the discussion of possible dates and topics.


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