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The Response-Able Educator Newsletter 8
September 18, 2002


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]


"Even on your worst day on the job, you are still some child's best hope."



2. Idea Exchange [back to top]


Group Goals

Working towards a common goal helps build classroom unity and create feelings of connectedness. A group goal might be earning the total dollar amount the Spanish Club needs to finance its spring trip. Or it might be seeing if the entire class can get 400 spelling words correct on Friday's spelling test. Further examples of group goals might be having all students learn their times tables by November first, shutting out the opponent in Tuesday's game, getting all permission slips in by Thursday, and getting a "ONE" rating from the lunchroom supervisor three days in a row.

You pick the topic. Invite students to help set the goal. Challenge them to pick a goal that is difficult to attain, but not so difficult that it is impossible. Ask them to choose one that can be reached, but one that will challenge them to stretch.

(Adapted from "Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit," by Chick Moorman. Available for $24.95 from Personal Power Press at (toll free) 877-360-1477, or email


3. Sprit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


What strengths do you see in this misbehavior? What is it about this negative behavior that would be positive if used in a different setting?


4. Humor [back to top]


Did you hear about the music teacher who tried to be a professional musician? She gave it up. She decided it wasn't as noteworthy as being a professional educator.


5. Teacher Talk [back to top]


Indignant, Apprehensive, or Perplexed

Students often reveal their limited vocabularies when they attempt to verbalize their feelings. Ask a student how she's feeling and you're likely to hear, "OK," "Fine," or "Bad." This three-word range for describing feelings can be attributed to two factors: first, children are not always in touch with their feelings, and second, when they are aware of their feelings, they lack the necessary variety of words to describe them accurately.

To help students recognize, name, and talk about their feelings, add a variety of feeling words to your teacher talk.


"Sounds like you're feeling frustrated."
"Seems like you're furious with her."
"I can see the aggravation on your face."
"Exasperation is what I'm feeling right now."
"Looks like sadness to me."
"I'm apprehensive about this."
"You seem dejected."

By using an expanded vocabulary of feeling words yourself, you help students identify and articulate feelings as well as increase their own vocabulary of feeling words.


6. Teacher Talk Announcement [back to top]


Chick Moorman and Nancy Weber's "Teacher Talk: What It Really Means" has just gone into its eleventh printing. This run of 2,000 brings the total number of copies in print to 32,500. To celebrate, we have decided to offer a September/October special price of $10.00 (plus $3.74 shipping and handling). Call for quantity discount prices.


7. Article [back to top]


Illegal Word Bursts

by Chick Moorman

Third grade teacher Mary Fullenwider had a problem. Not a life or death problem. Not a critical problem. Not even a new problem. Just a nagging, reoccurring, frustrating problem. Her problem was that she had a handful of eight-year-old students who repeatedly interrupted class discussions by blurting out spontaneous comments.

Her students weren't attention-seeking youngsters whose comments were rude, humorous, or disrespectful. In fact, their intentions were positive: to share a thought or ask a question about the topic under discussion. It was just that these students spoke up without being called on, disrupting the flow of conversation and frustrating other students who were waiting patiently with their hands up.

Mary tried talking to the entire class about the problem and asking for their cooperation. The problem persisted. She attempted to ignore the outbursts. Only a minor improvement resulted. Finally she decided to go to plan C.

"I decided to confront the behavior every time I heard it," she said. "I designed a confrontation message that identified the student and the behavior, made it clear that the behavior violated our classroom procedures, and described the behavior that was appropriate.

"I knew I had to be consistent or it wouldn't work. I memorized the statement so I would be ready to use it exactly as I intended. When Roland interrupted the next morning, I immediately implemented my plan.

"'Roland, that is an Illegal Word Burst," I said. 'It doesn't match our picture of polite conversation. In our class we raise our hands and wait to be called on. That way, we have time to think before we speak, and everyone has the same opportunity to share."

Roland sat there a bit stunned. He wasn't sure what to do, but he didn't interrupt again until midway through the afternoon. Then I gave him my confrontation message again, almost word for word as I had said it earlier that morning. Same result.

Now, only a few weeks into the school year, Roland and two of his classmates have made considerable progress in remembering to raise their hands. They know what is expected in this third-grade classroom and realize their only hope of sharing in class is to follow the procedures.

Mary's confrontation message worked because she was constant with it. She used it every time she heard an Illegal Word Burst. No exceptions. Her students quickly got the message that this issue mattered to their teacher. Because of her consistency and determination, their behavior changed to match her expectations.


(To access similar articles check out


8. Respect and Responsibility Seminars [back to top]

============================================================= Open

"Teaching for Respect and Responsibility" workshops are now being offered around the country. The fall schedule is as follows:

Lansing, MI November 14th

Milwaukee, WI November 18th

Atlanta, GA November 21st

This full-day seminar will help you reduce power struggles in your classroom, cope effectively with disrespectful behaviors, increase respectful/responsible behaviors in your students, and help students assume increasing control over their school lives.

For a full brochure and registration materials, call (toll free) 877-360-1477 or email


Subscription Information [back to top]


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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 email


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