Posts tagged “Ed Boyatt

2013 and The Better Plan Blog

2013 is just about to go into the history books. As New Year’s Eve ushers in 2014, I thought I would share some data and info regarding the life of The Better Plan blog over the past year.

+  I started the blog for Seventh-day Adventist teachers and parents who had read my book Soul Shapers and as a result wanted to know more about choice theory. Many who signed up to follow the blog are SDA teachers or parents, but many of you are not SDA. As a result, the blog has focused on the principles of choice theory. There has been an occasional emphasis on SDA quotes or stories, but not as much as I originally planned.

+  The very first blog was posted on Dec. 16, 2012.
There were five posts and 90 views during December, 2012.

+  There are now 189 people following the blog.

+  During 2013, there were 78 posts or articles.
Of the 78 posts there were 8,256 views.
That represents an average of 23 views per day.
To the 78 posts there were 371 comments.

+  The low day for views was on December 20, 2013, when there was just one view.
The high day for views was on August 24, 2013, when there were 231 views, with most of the views being directed at the I Will Miss You, Bill post.
The average views for the month of August was 44 views per day.
The posts related to Glasser’s passing away in August definitely had the most views during the year.

+  A couple of blogs I put some time and thought into were Give Me Victory or Give Me Death on January 22, and Why Are So Many Christians So Un-Christian? on November 10.

+  A couple of blogs that meant a lot to me were The Rest of the Story, Part 1, on September 3, and Part 2 on September 5.
The comments several of you shared in response to The Rest of the Story meant a great deal to me.

+  An example of the kind of blogs I thought would have gotten more views was Stringless Love on July 11.

+  There were other contributors besides myself during the past year, something I would like to see more of in 2014. Examples of contributions from other writers include 19 Ways to Lead, Rather than Boss, by Ed Boyatt, on July 27, and Push or Pull, by Chris Sequiera, on July 24.


Reflecting back I am pleased with the caliber of the content and I look forward to continuing the blog. It has been a labor of love, although it isn’t too hard to write about choice theory when you get a new idea or have an epiphany of some sort. I would like to see the blog grow and become an even better resource to teachers, parents, and choice theorists of all kinds. I would love your ideas on how to make the blog more valuable. (I am thinking about creating an eBook with all of The Better Plan 2013 blogs in chronological order. The blog template I am using makes it hard to read through the archived blogs chronologically.)

As I close 2013 I want to wish all of you every blessing for 2014!

Have Choose a great year!

$10 and Push Ups

Working with partners during one of the morning session activities.

Working with partners during one of the morning session activities.

Some anecdotes from the Beirut conference, Sunday, October 20, 2013:

My view of the Middle East culture, now that I am a veteran of a few days here, is that they are reserved with someone they don’t know that well, but not reserved at all with each other. By the end of the conference, people were greeting me and even saying thank you, but not much more than that. They seemed to be into the topics that were covered, especially if the learning involved an activity, but I didn’t get a lot of direct feedback from them one way or another. There was positive energy in the room; I could definitely feel that. One woman who attended came up to me during a break and thanked me rather strongly, ultimately sharing with me that I had come to the Middle East just so she could here about choice theory.  Made my day, actually.

it's about 67 cents per push up.

It’s about 67 cents per push up.

I do an activity where I hold up a $10 bill and say that I will give it to the person who comes to the front of the room and does 15 legal push ups. Usually, there will be some who start waving their hands to be chosen as I slowly approach others and one by one offer them the money for the pushups. People will decline; some refuse even to give me any eye contact for fear I will ask them. I continue trying to get someone (not waving his/her hands) to go for it. Eventually, I select a person and he/she does the push ups, whereupon I congratulate them and hand them the money. This activity is a lead-in to a discussion on behaviorism and stimulus-response approaches to motivation. I ask them “What just happened here? Did the $10 make the person do the push ups?” It didn’t seem to work with those who declined, some of whom could have done the push ups. Ultimately, the group realizes that external motivators work for some people, some of the time, and always for reasons that are inside of them. The reason I share this is that when I did this activity in Beirut I had fewer responses than at any other place I have used it. Absolutely no women were interested in doing the push ups, and basically none of the men were either. One raised his hand briefly, but then his hand kind of disappeared. An American student missionary eventually said he would do it, which he did, and he got the $10. I am curious, though, if this is a cultural thing or if I just didn’t do it right. I’ve been doing it for a long time, so I don’t think it is the latter, but you never know. (Most of the participants who have done the push ups and won the $10 over the last, say three or four years, have been women.)

Great rendition, from the heart, of the Lebanese national anthem.

Great rendition, from the heart, of the Lebanese national anthem.

For variety, I also offer $10 to the person who will come to the front and sing the national anthem, a cappella. People seemed even less interested in doing this than they did in doing the push ups. I offered and invited, but no takers. Finally, a gentleman said he would do it and moved to the piano on the stage to play as he sang. I said, no, it needed to be a cappella. He complied, took the microphone, and begin to sing the Lebanese national anthem. He sang with conviction and gusto. Very quickly after he began to sing, one by one audience members stood to their feet and began to sing as well. Rather than simply being entertained by this impromptu solo, they felt compelled to stand in honor of their country and join in singing their national anthem. It was an impressive moment, a touching moment. I was out another $10, but it was totally worth it, though.

An afternoon problem-solving group solving problems.

An afternoon problem-solving group solving problems.

After lunch, problem-solving groups were created that were asked to apply information from the morning session to real classroom settings. For instance, one of the questions asked group members to identify a need-satisfying classroom strategy or activity for each of the Basic Needs. I was very impressed as group reporters from each of the groups went to the microphone and explained their choice theory strategies for a better classroom environment.  Examples included –

Purpose and Meaning– explaining assignments better; allowing students to ask and explore “why” questions; helping students to research career possibilities without pressuring them in a certain direction

Love and Belonging – greeting students personally at the start of the school day and asking them how they are doing; teaching them to work with partners or in small groups more effectively; looking out for the student who may not feel as connected; modeling positive relationships by being supportive of each other as staff members

Power and Achievement – having students present to the class or to teach the class a skill that they do well; allowing students to re-do an assignment until they get it; giving students roles or jobs in the classroom; try to provide students with choices when it comes to how they fulfill assignments

Freedom and Autonomy – trust students more and expect them to live up to that trust; allow to give input into how an assignment could best be done; allow students to give input into the selection and wording of some of the class procedures and rules

Joy and Fun – read funny stories or share jokes; create an environment that is emotionally and physically safe, where creativity can flourish; be optimistic with students; express belief in their ability

Survival and Safety – design and implement a structured school program that protects students physically, emotionally, and academically; be aware of any students displaying bullying behaviors; repair damaged or broken equipment or furniture quickly; prioritize the emotional well-being of every student


Check your calendar, because if you were really responsible and organized you would have Sabbath afternoon, November 2, from 2:00-4:00 pm already scheduled for the next Choice Theory Study Group. If you haven’t scheduled it yet, you can go ahead and do that now. Hope you can be there!


Let me know if you have questions or topics for The Better Plan blog to address. Get in touch with me at or through the blog contact form.

Choice Theory in Beirut

Beirut sunset

Beirut sunset

I am in Beirut. Yes, Lebanon.

As I write this there is a beautiful sunset to the west and the lights of the city, like stars, are beginning to come alive and twinkle. I hear the sounds of sirens echoing from the city below. I see the sunset, the sky turning gorgeous shades of darker hues, and hear the sounds of the city from my third floor dorm room, my room with a view. Quite spectacular, actually.

I am in the Middle East for the first time in my life, invited here to share the ideas of choice theory. My perception of this area of the world is that it tends toward authoritarian approaches to life, maybe especially so in the Muslim community, and both of these thoughts were confirmed by Beirut natives in discussions after I arrived. Still, though, there is a desire by teachers here to consider the principles of choice theory.

My presentations occurred on Sabbath afternoon, October 19, and most of the day on Sunday, October 20. Dr. Ed Boyatt, recently retired Dean of the School of Education at La Sierra University, is a co-presenter with me and gave his talks on Friday evening and Sabbath morning. There were three things I wanted to emphasize during the comparatively short time I had to introduce the group to the concepts of choice theory. They were –

1. God designed us for internal control based on freedom.

2. Positive relationships are the foundation on which other success pieces are built.

3. Schools can be need-satisfying places that students and teachers want to come to each day.

A large group came together for the choice theory conference on Sunday.

A large group came together for the choice theory conference on Sunday.

Sabbath afternoon really focused on the first theme, including the idea that since God created us for internal control even He won’t control us. Sunday focused on some of the choice theory elements – understanding the basic needs and the concept of the quality world – that contribute to fulfilling the second and third themes.

One of the quotes that supports the idea that we have been created for internal control, and the quote that years ago first alerted me to a possible similarity between Ellen White, one of the SDA church founders, and William Glasser, says that

The training of children must be conducted on a different principle from that which governs the training of irrational animals.  The brute has only to be accustomed to submit to its master; but the child must be taught to control himself.  The will must be trained to obey the dictates of reason and conscience. A child may be so disciplined as to have, like the beast, no will of its own, his individuality being lost in that of his teacher.  Such training is unwise, and its effect disastrous.             Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 57

This quote led me to further reading of Ellen White’s books, which then led me to a detailed comparison between Glasser and White, and which ultimately led to the writing of the Soul Shapers book. Both Glasser and White explain, describe, remind, warn, invite, and encourage. Their written words state ideas in ways that get our attention. For example (a few other quotes shared during the conference) –

True education is not the forcing of instruction on an unready and unreceptive mind.    Education, p. 41

Those who train their pupils to feel that the power lies in themselves to become men and women of honor and usefulness, will be the most permanently successful.  Their work may not appear to the best advantage to careless observers, and their labor may not be valued so highly as that of the instructor who holds absolute control, but the after-life of the pupils will show the results of the better plan of education.                    Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 58

The latter quote provided the idea for the name of this blog. For Ellen White, “the better plan” had everything to do with working with students in a way that honors the internal control with which they are designed. These are just some of the quotes that spurred our discussion during the conference.

Jim Roy and Jimmy Choufani

Jim Roy and Jimmy Choufani

This is a picture of Jimmy Choufani and me as we talk about the Sunday afternoon session of the conference. I can’t say enough good things about Jimmy! He will read this and probably be a little upset at me for saying these nice things about him, but .  .  . well .  .  . tough. Jimmy is a gifted educational administrator. If you haven’t been to Beirut, it may be hard for you to understand what he and his team have accomplished at Bouchrieh Adventist Secondary School (BASS). Ed Boyatt and I had the privilege of observing in classrooms today at the school and I am impressed. I am impressed with the organization and structure of the school, the ability of the teachers, and the level of respect by the students.

Isaac Atem Thon Atem and Jim Roy.

Isaac Atem Thon Atem and Jim Roy.

This last picture is of me and Isaac Atem Thon Atem. Isaac is just about to complete his teaching degree at Middle East University and attended the conference over the weekend as a future teacher on the lookout for good ideas. He approached me during one of the breaks and asked if he could purchase one of the Soul Shaper books. I didn’t bring any with me to sell, but as I listened to him tell me about his plan to return to South Sudan and to teach there, I quickly said, please, take my copy. It is a privilege for me to support Isaac. He is a gentle soul ready to go to a difficult place and do what he can to make life better for his students.

I never imagined that choice theory would bring me to the Middle East, but it has and I am very thankful for it. I look forward to a few more days here, and to discussions about the future of choice theory in Beirut!

It’s Been Awhile


I knew it had been a while since my last bike ride, but I didn’t know it was that long. When I got home after riding today I downloaded the last several rides from my Garmin and discovered my last ride was three weeks ago. My goodness, or should it be my badness. It has been a while since my last blog, too. It’s been almost two weeks since the last Better Plan posting and that is a record. Not a record I am proud of mind you, but a record none the less.

The beginning of this school year has been so full and so busy for me, more than usual, I think. Besides getting classes set up and going this Fall quarter, several additional things also have my attention. To find out if you are interested in any of these things keep reading.

Beirut Trip

I am leaving for Beirut, Lebanon, this coming Wednesday, where I will be giving several choice theory presentations to teachers and school administrators. Jimmy Choufani, one of the school principals (and a follower of this blog), has been talking with me for over a year about getting this to happen, so it is awesome that the plan has come together. Jimmy read Soul Shapers over a year ago and wants his colleagues to have an opportunity to at least hear about the principles of choice theory. He has shared with me that on one of the days during the conference the audience will be made up of Christians and Muslims. What a testimony to their unity in the midst of so much unrest all around them. I am humbled to be a part of this venture.


Also going to Beirut as a co-presenter with me is Dr. Ed Boyatt, recently retired Dean of the School of Education at La Sierra University. Ed, along with Dick and Anita Molstead, (all followers of the blog) was Superintendent of Education in the Oregon Conference while I was principal at Livingstone Academy in Salem from 1993-1996. (Livingstone was the school where most of the Soul Shapers book took place.) Their support meant a great deal to me and I dedicated Soul Shapers to them because of that. I am so thankful that Ed is going on this trip! Together we want to share how the principles of choice theory actually reflect the character of God, as well as share choice theory details that will be especially helpful to educators. After the weekend conference Ed and I will be observing in schools in Beirut and then talking with principals and teachers there about how choice theory can begin to have a presence in classrooms.

We solicit your prayers as we prepare for the trip. Any words of advice would be welcomed as well.

Glasser Biography

The Glasser biography – William Glasser: Champion of Choice – is supposed to come out in late November. The inside of the book looks wonderful. I am really pleased with the look and visual tone of the book. It will be a pleasant read in that way. I am in the midst of a slight disagreement regarding the cover of the book, but it is not a major thing. Hopefully, my input will sway them, but then again, what do I know about cover design. It will just be so good to have the book done!

The Evolution of Psychotherapy conference in Anaheim is at the beginning of December and I think they want to have the book available for that.

Masaki Kakatani, long time Glasser Institute member, has contacted the publisher to begin translating the biography into Japanese. Very cool.

Choice Theory Study Group

Our next Choice Theory Study Group will be on Sabbath afternoon, November 2, at 2:00 pm in the Education building at Pacific Union College. Mark it in your calendar.

Agenda items include:
+ Brief updates on any choice theory lessons or experiences in your classroom or school.
+ I will give a brief update on the Beirut trip.
+ Role play review on how to conference with a student with an attainable want.

Let me know if you have a topic or question for us to consider on November 2.

Choice Theory Study Group
November 2, 2013
PUC Education building

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