Posts tagged “Jim Roy

A Selfie from Toronto

I am in Toronto, Canada, attending the 2nd International Glasser Conference, from July 9-13. I was asked to give the opening keynote address, which I did yesterday morning. The following selfie, taken as I began the talk, captures part of the crowd as the conference opened.

Hello from everyone at the 2nd International Glasser Conference in Toronto!

Hello from everyone at the 2nd International Glasser Conference in Toronto!

The energy in the room was very positive, which helped my creativity as I shared details of the writing of Glasser’s biography, as well as stories from his life. (The talk was video-taped, so I am may be able to post that on The Better Plan soon. Feedback from those who have already read the biography has been very positive. Glasser “old-timers” are pointing how there are details about Glasser’s life and his ideas that they did not know about. There is a strong desire to “get the word out” about the book, including other countries like Australia, Ireland, Japan, and Korea. The biography is already being translated into Japanese, and people approached me about translating the book into Korean and Arabic, too.

I brought close to 40 copies of the book to the conference, but they all sold very quickly. I wish I could have brought more copies with me. Those wanting signed copies of the book can get them from me directly. (More on that later.) Of course, the book is also quickly accessible through Amazon.

Carleen Glasser, Maggie Roy, and Sandie Wubbolding.

Carleen Glasser, Maggie Roy, and Sandie Wubbolding.

I was especially frustrated that so many of those attending the conference from other countries were not able to bring copies of the book back home with them. I have checked on shipping costs to Canada and the rates are ridiculous. If I am looking at the websites of the US Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS correctly, it will cost more to ship the book than the cost of the book itself. Not acceptable. My hope is that something can be done to make the cost of the book reasonable to Glasser advocates around the world. We will solve this!

There are so many wonderful things going on at the conference, so many wonderful presentations and breakout sessions. One of the wonderful things is a choice theory curriculum for children out of Australia. Developed by Ivan Honey, the program is called The Amazing Adventures of Doug Dragster. A pilot project is going on right now in Los Angeles, in cooperation with Loyola Marymount University, to determine the extent to which the program teaches children the skills to improve their mental health, resiliency, and well-being. There is actually a really good sale going on until Sunday, July 13. Through Sunday you can download the book for 99 cents; plus all proceeds from the book will go to support the research project that is being done by LMU on the effects of the Doug Dragster curriculum.

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Speaking of Amazon, it’s really important for everyone to submit a review of the Glasser biography, Champion of Choice. It’s easy to do and it will make a huge difference toward getting the word out there about so many of the positive things William Glasser did throughout his life. It doesn’t have to be long.

More tomorrow! In the meantime .  .  .

Ahh .  .  . Toronto. What a great city!

Ahh . . . Toronto. What a great city!

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Soul Shapers 2 concluded this past Thursday and the classroom quickly went from learning activities and creative role plays to a quiet space where things needed to be organized and put away. After good-byes class members headed back home to places like Santa Rosa, Monterey Bay, and Newbury Park. It’s interesting to me how close people can become as they learn about choice theory together, and especially as they practice the learning through role play.  Role playing is fun, but it is also a vulnerable process in which friendship bonds are formed.

The vulnerability to which choice theory invites us creates a rather “sacred” space to me, so it is a little bit difficult to change the furniture in the room back to the way it was before the Soul Shaper classes began two weeks earlier. Important moments happened in this space and moving the tables and chairs back to their straight, impersonal rows seems to move on from those moments too easily. Folders with (what I think are) important handouts and activities must be organized and re-filed, the filing cabinet draw ultimately closing them in darkness. When will I call on them again? How soon? Planning notes and lesson plans also put away, but shouldn’t I modify them based on the new ideas these most recent classes have taught me. Shouldn’t I review which activities worked well and which didn’t?

I have such mixed feelings as the Soul Shaper classes come to an end each summer. I feel good about making new friends, and seeing them make new friends,  and hearing them talk about how they want to show up differently, personally and professionally, now that they understand choice theory in new ways.  I feel a bit of fear, too, as I think about each of them heading back to the complexity of their unique realities, wanting to apply choice theory, but stumbling in their initial efforts to do so and maybe being distracted from the new ideas and ultimately reverting to their old habits. The crush of the new school year in the Fall often provides the final blow in the “forgetting” process. It doesn’t have to be so; this is just my “fear.” Participants in this year’s classes expressed as much commitment to the choice theory ideas as any class I have ever taught. If these ideas are as important as I think they are, then the Holy Spirit will take it from here and continue to provide insight and support.

Assignments for the Soul Shapers 1 class are arriving in my inbox every day now and they are encouraging to me as I read them. One of the assignments is to write a short review of the Soul Shapers book (2005). The opening paragraph for one of these reviews indicates that the writer “gets it” —

William Glasser, an influential psychologist and educator, has devoted his life to challenging many long-held theories in the field of psychology, most famously, the stimulus-response theory. This theory states that human behavior can be motivated and controlled through external stimuli. Behavioral scientist icons such as Pavlov, Skinner, and Watson, all built their contributions to the field of psychology with this “truth” as the cornerstone. As a result, people have spent the last century believing that it is possible to “control” the behavior of others. This assumption has been particularly damaging in the field of education where teachers have spent entire careers attempting to control their students through bribery, punishment, and coercion, falsely assuming that their students’ successes and failures are a direct result of these external controls. After years of observations, both in and out of the classroom, Glasser developed an alternative to stimulus-response theory called choice theory, which states that all of our motivation comes from within ourselves, and that we make our own choices and decisions on how to best meet our needs. Glasser believes that it is crucial for teachers to develop positive and meaningful relationships with their students in order to empower them to make good choices based on internal motivation rather than external control.   EC

For the same book review assignment, another class member shared that —

As a Seventh-day Adventist educator I do want my students to have a relationship with God, to become thinkers and not mere reflectors of others’ thoughts, and to become morally responsible human beings. Glasser’s methods formed a clearer, step-by-step approach to make it possible for students to use the tools of thinking, evaluating, planning, and doing. This year I would like to give more attention to activities that will help build relationships in my classroom and that will give me more insight in the basic needs of my students. I want to make a more deliberate connection to each student.   SG

It us such a gift to students when teachers organize their classrooms based on these kinds of insights. To be a thinker, rather than a mere reflector others’ thoughts is a pretty awesome life skill!

I continue to be uncomfortable with the term Soul Shapers, maybe more so than ever. In fact, I think I am more uncomfortable with the Soul Shapers label than Glasser was with the Control Theory label. He ultimately switched to Choice Theory, a label he felt was much more accurate. I want to switch, too, since the term Soul Shapers implies the idea of one human being shaping the soul of another person. Choice theory implies just the opposite of that process. Worse yet, there is a cookie cutter graphic on the cover of the Soul Shaper book, which I didn’t see until after the book was published. I like the term The Better Plan much better than Soul Shapers. Maybe next summer I will be teaching The Better Plan 1 and The Better Plan 2 classes.

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If you are interested in the Soul Shaper book, you can easily get a copy through Amazon. New copies are going for $12.50 and used copies are going for $5.00. I am wanting to set up an option through the blog for people to be able to order both of my books — Soul Shapers and William Glasser: Champion of Choice — but I haven’t got to it yet. In the meantime, either book is available through Amazon or through the publishers directly. The Glasser book can also be purchased through the Glasser bookstore.

Know Yourself

You probably don’t know the guy in the picture. Until recently, I didn’t know him either. His name is Charles Handy and it turns out that in the world of business and management he is rather famous. An Irish philosopher and author, Handy has been rated on the Thinkers 50 list, a list that ranks the most influential living management thinkers. In 2001, he was second on the list, behind only Peter Drucker. In 2005, he was tenth. Sounds like a tough list.

I digress. Anyway, in a book he wrote entitled The Hungry Spirit (his eleventh book, written in 1997) he outlined the ingredients for a successful school system in the modern world (But aren’t we in the post-modern era? Again, I digress.) He listed four ingredients for success, although it was the first one that struck me for some reason. Handy’s first ingredient, at the top of the list is –   ( d r u m r  o   l    l )

* The discovery of oneself is more important than the discovery of the world.

What a great choice theory statement! Those seeking to learn about choice theory and put it’s principles to use in their lives really are on a journey to discovering themselves. As you come to recognize that the pictures in your quality world have been purposefully placed there by you, it becomes clear that knowing yourself is of the utmost importance. Blaming others or the world for your problems makes less and less sense as you realize the significance of your power to think and to act.

Handy must have recognized the importance of this challenge, too, and recommended that teachers assist students in discovering their own identities and strengths. Discovering their identity is one of the greatest gifts a student could ever receive. Coming into a knowledge of who they are, what they value, what makes them happy, what fulfills them, and the behaviors that bring them closer to the important people in their lives will put students on the road to success.

In case you are curious about the other three ingredients on Handy’s list. Here they are –

* Everyone is good at something.

* Life is a marathon, not a horse race. (Don’t focus on testing to the exclusion of cooperation, team working, curiosity, and confidence.)

* The best learning comes after experience. (So much education nowadays comes before experience.)

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Teaching students about the basic needs and the quality world is a sure way to help them discover who they are. Glasser once said that there is nothing in choice theory that a six year old can’t understand. I agree with him.

With smaller children, up to age 7, focus on simply teaching them about the basic needs. Give them simple definitions. As you read stories to the children, ask them about the basic needs of the characters in the story. Have them think out loud about which needs seem to be the strongest. As different situations come up in the classroom, take a moment and review the basic need that helped or hindered a good outcome. The point is to dialogue openly with the students about the needs. Don’t focus on what a particular student’s needs are. Just talk about them in general.

As students get older they become more able to consider their own personality makeup and to consider their own basic need strengths. This is an excellent time to introduce the quality world to students, as the people and things and activities we collect in our quality world give us clues into what our personal basic needs really are.

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An excellent resource for primary grade teachers is My Quality World Workbook by Carleen Glasser. You can purchase the workbook at www.wglasserbooks.com or you can call 310-313-5800.

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Choice Theory Study Group is this coming Sabbath afternoon, January 25, 2:00 pm in the PUC Education Department building, Room 212.

Learning from Jim Carrey or the NYC Murder Rate

Hmm .  .  . what to write about. While reading a weekly journal called appropriately, The Week, I ran across two items that caught my attention. I’ll briefly share both of them and you can let me know which direction to head.

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1st Item – A Quote from Jim Carrey

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.   Jim Carrey

Really true, isn’t it? We often do look at the rich and famous and compare our lives to our perceptions of their lives. Each time we see a magazine cover with their gorgeous faces and perfect (photoshopped) bodies and see pictures of them on vacation in exotic places that normal people never go to, we are reminded of how far from their lives we really are. In the process, it’s easy to forget about the often screwed-up lives of the people in those pictures and their desperation for normalcy. And in the process we lose sight of the things for which we can be thankful. We forget to nurture a spirit of gratitude.

Jealousy and covetousness erode us from the inside out. The thinking we embrace and coddle affects our actions, our feelings, and even our physiology. Stinkin thinkin leads to all kinds of problems. Take a cue from Jim Carrey and quickly review your blessings. If the list is short you may need to intentionally seek the reasons for which to be thankful, but any effort put into improving your thinking will make a huge difference in your relationships and your happiness.

Item #2 – Murder Rates in NYC Reveal an Interesting Pattern

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A total of 334 people were murdered in New York City last year, only 29 of them by strangers. That’s down from more than 2,245 murders in 1990, and the lowest number of murders in the city on record.

The low number of murders is good, but what I really noticed had to do with how only 29 of them were committed by strangers. When I saw that I immediately thought of Glasser’s belief that all long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems. It is telling that over 90% of the murders in NYC were committed by people who knew their victims. Taking the life of a friend or loved one is an extreme act that in a strange way conveys the importance of relationships. We value relationships and get worked up when a relationship doesn’t go the way we want it to go. Murdering another person is never the answer, yet 305 people in NYC last year didn’t know about other options and went ahead and acted out in violence.

This is where choice theory can help. The principles of choice theory gently, but firmly pull us out from the pit of victimhood and place us back in possession of ourselves. We come to understand the control we have on our thinking and our acting and the ways in which we create our own reality. We begin to value our relationships more and to recognize the role we play in whether or not our relationships are successful. Ultimately, without hurting or taking advantage of others, we become responsible for our own happiness.

So, what to write about — Jim Carrey and gratitude or on what can be learned from the NYC murder rate? Hmm .  .  .

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Tom Lee, Jean Buller, and Jim Roy at the Google Education Conference. Each of them are professors in the teacher education program at Pacific Union College.

Tom Lee, Jean Buller, and Jim Roy at the Google Education Conference. Each of them are professors in the teacher education program at Pacific Union College.

I attended a Google Apps for Educators Conference on Jan. 8 and 9 at New Tech High in Napa, CA. Wow! If you ever have a chance to attend a Google educator conference I highly encourage you to do so. (45 such conferences will be put on this coming year) The things you learn and ideas you hear are educationally transformative.

For example, the Research tool in Google Docs places the world (websites, articles, pictures, and video clips) at students’ fingertips. And by students we aren’t just talking about college and secondary students. Elementary students can quickly learn to study a topic more deeply and then demonstrate their understanding in exciting ways. Their presentations become much more RELEVANT to them and their classmates. As you probably recall, relevance is one of the most important qualities in a choice theory classroom.

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Our next Choice Theory Study Group is January 25 at 2:00 pm.

Let me know if you have agenda items or topics you would like to cover.

A recent Wall Street Journal headline caught my eye and got me to thinking in all kinds of creative ways. The headline read, “Want to Stop Arguing and Change Spouse’s Behavior? Start With Mirror.” The article then opened with –

Ever want to change something about your partner? Get him or her to eat better or work less? Exercise more? Stop nagging or yelling? Start with a mirror.

Your best chance of transforming someone else—and the dynamic in your relationship—is to demonstrate your willingness to alter your own actions, experts say.

The article went on to cite studies and give good examples that supported this theme, however I was captivated by the reference to the item that each of us uses every day – that being a mirror. It struck me that a mirror, more than any other thing or item, may be the best mascot for representing the choice theory approach to life. The total behavior car is a graphic or thing that has entered the pantheon of choice theory tools, but the simple mirror may capture the essence of choice theory in ways the car cannot.

One teacher tapped into this truth beautifully when she hung a mirror in the back of her classroom, with the following captions prominently displayed underneath.

Whose behavior can I control?

How can I behave in a way that might change this situation for the better?

She referred to the mirror as she taught about the concepts of choice theory, especially at the beginning of the year. It wasn’t unusual for her to see a student standing in front of the mirror, studying themselves in the frame before them, quietly reviewing the questions underneath.

Toward the close of the school year one fifth-grader shared, “That mirror got to me. There was some other choice theory stuff I liked, but that mirror .  .  . it just sat there, day after day reminding me about how I’m the only person I can control. It’s true.” The teacher learned just how much of an impact the mirror in the classroom had on this student when the child’s mother informed the teacher that her son had written out these questions and taped them to the bathroom mirror at home? The teacher recalled how the mother became emotional as she described the effect that bathroom mirror was having on their home, especially on the conversations she and her husband were starting to have.

HELP!

A mirror – a simple, common mirror – needs to be a part of my choice theory workshops from now on. I need to think of mini-lessons or activities that will tap into the power of this everyday item. Your help on this would be appreciated. Any ideas?

Still a classic, no matter how many times I see it.

Ezekiel, yes, dry bones Ezekiel “got” this important principle – the principle of the mirror – when he wrote in Ezekiel 3:10 –

Then he added, “Son of man, let all my words sink into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself.”

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A Michael Jackson song proclaims the truth about the mirror, too. The chorus of his famous song says –

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror

I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways

And No Message Could’ve Been Any Clearer

If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place

Take A Look At Yourself And

Then Make That . . .

Change!

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The Choice Theory Study Group this month meets on January 25.

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.

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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!

Choice Theory and Christmas

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I have been thinking about choice theory and Christmas and I have come to the conclusion that they are wonderfully connected!

My logic goes like this. Christmas marks the moment that God gave up His riches and glory to become one of us with our weakness and poverty. He entered a literal battlefield, a war zone, as a vulnerable, tiny baby. The Christ Child was the Commander of heaven’s armies, though, and He ultimately came to wreak havoc on the enemy’s schemes. Luke described how the choir that announced the Child’s arrival to the shepherds was actually made up of “the armies of heaven.” (Luke 2:13, 14) This incredible display was God’s way of saying Game On. And John declares that –

“The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

The works of the devil are bad news. Driven by his hatred of everything for which God stood, he would do everything he could to deface and hurt God’s creation. Having already lured over a third of the angels to distrust God and join him in forming a new government, he focused on convincing us, the crowning work of God’s creative power, to distrust God, too. We chose to believe the devil, to seek a higher place, to go our own way, to align ourselves with a new, alternative government. A void was formed between humans and their Creator and fear and insecurity rushed in to fill the space. Instead of the self-control with which we were created, the devil took advantage of our allegiance to him and sought to capture us in his trap, to chain us within his dungeon, to addict us in behaviors from which their appeared no escape.

How fortunate for us that when the Commander Child arrived in the humble Bethlehem stable it was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Thirty years later, as Commander Messiah, He would read this prophecy in the synagogue as a declaration of His mission.

“I have come to release the captives and set the prisoners free.” Isaiah 61:1

God’s government is based on freedom, on the power to choose, on the ability to be in control of our thinking and behavior. Immanuel-the God with us Child-came to win back our freedom to choose, to level an unfair playing field, to give us back to ourselves.

The manger and the cross were one from the beginning. The Child was born in the shadow of death. Yet by His death we are healed, the shackles are unlocked, the prisons of our lives are opened. Through His Spirit we are free.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.” 2Tim. 1:7

This freedom, this power to choose, this ability to be who you want to be, is so important to God that He was willing to give up everything to insure its future. Freedom was and is His universal non-negotiable.

Choice theory explains how we are motivated from within for reasons that are uniquely personal to us, and that we choose to behave in a way that we think will best meet our needs at that moment. How incredible that God would create us with this kind of autonomy! Let Christmas be a reminder of the freedom that God created us with, and also of His return to redeem us as Commander Child.

Game on at the manger!

Game won at the cross!

We are free!

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:5-7

(This post was a re-print from last Christmas, but I don’t think many of you saw it.)

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Workshop Ideas – Several of you indicated how much you appreciated the Coca Cola commercial that was shared in the last blog, and suggestions for how the commercial clip could be used in a workshop setting include –

Let participants know that you are going to show a commercial and that you want them to look for a choice theory message in the clip. Ask participants to share their ideas afterward.

Let participants know that you are going to show a commercial about a young couple raising a young child and that the clip is made up of short vignettes. Their assignment is to consider which of the vignettes contains the most powerful choice theory moment. Or which of the vignettes would especially tempt a parent to resort to stimulus-response, reward-punishment?

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all good night!

Glasser Biography Is Published! (kind of)

Jim Roy and Carleen Glasser with the first edition of Bill's biography. Taken at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference.

Jim Roy and Carleen Glasser with the first edition of Bill’s biography. Taken at the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference.

I stopped by the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference in Anaheim, California, this past Thursday (Dec. 12, 2013) and headed to the conference bookstore to see the Glasser biography for the first time myself. I wasn’t totally clear whether the bio would be ready, and if so, what it would look like. So it was good to see that it had been printed and to hold it in my hand. It was a very special moment for me to walk to the bookstore with Carleen Glasser, who Bill had been married to since 1995 until he passed away in August, and for both of us to hold the book together.

I said that the biography is “kind of” published because apparently the conference edition of the book is a pre-publication version, with the actual big printing taking place next month. For instance, one thing I noticed after buying a copy of the book, was that the Foreword was missing. The publisher had asked Bob Wubbolding to write a Foreword, which I very much supported, and which Bob did, yet for some reason it hasn’t made it into the book yet. Hopefully, that will be fixed soon, along with a few other less notable fixes.

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Choice Theory Study Group is Growing

Three of those who attended the recent Choice Theory Study Group: Sonya Reaves, teaching principal at Oakhurst SDA Elementary near Yosemite; Joel Steffan, Gr. 5/6 at Foothills Adventist Elementary School in St. Helena, CA; and George Barcenas, Physical Education and Spanish teacher at Redwood Adventist Academy in Santa Rosa, CA.

Three of those who attended the recent Choice Theory Study Group: Sonya Reaves, teaching principal at Oakhurst SDA Elementary near Yosemite; Joel Steffan, Gr. 5/6 at Foothills Adventist Elementary School in St. Helena, CA; and George Barcenas, Physical Education and Spanish teacher at Redwood Adventist Academy in Santa Rosa, CA.

Our recent Choice Theory Study Group on December 7 broke a record for attendance and we are already looking forward to our next study group on January 25. Put the January date in your calendar now and plan to join us for choice theory discussion and activities. One of the topics we covered on the 7th had to do with classroom meetings. I have included the handout here. Check it out.

Class Meeting guidelines

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Classroom Management Philosophy Paper

I taught Classroom Management during Fall quarter and one of the culminating assignments for my students was to think about and write their philosophy of classroom management. We use Harry Wong’s The First Days of School and Marvin Marshall’s Discipline Without Stress, Punishment or Reward as course textbooks. Part of class time is devoted to introducing choice theory to these future teachers. We really only have time for an orientation to the choice theory principles, yet this year’s students really seemed to take to the ideas. One of my undergraduate students, Laura Helm, put together a concise, yet effective description of the teacher she wants to be. I thought I would share (with her permission) what she wrote.

Classroom Management is an integral part of a teacher’s career. Without effective management, it is very challenging for successful learning to take place. Classroom management seems like a daunting task, and it can be very challenging. After taking this class, I am more prepared to tackle this aspect of being a teacher. Taking Classroom Management has taught me an incredible amount about effective management and the different ways to achieve it. My classroom management philosophy involves self-governance, Choice Theory, procedures, internal motivation, moving away from rewards and punishments, and having relationships with your students.

Possibly the most important concept we learned about is Choice Theory. Choice Theory focuses on self-responsibility along with natural consequences. It is about having the power to choose how you act and how you respond. A significant point of this theory is that you are the only person you can control, and you cannot control others. We govern ourselves and have the power to choose our behavior. Everything we do is working to fulfill our basic needs, as outlined by Glasser in his Choice Theory model. Implementing Choice Theory and its principles in the classroom is essential. Teaching students the significance of self-responsibility and about our basic needs is very important to me. Not only will this be of great importance in the classroom, but also in the future lives of my students. Choice Theory is a way of understanding ourselves and our students on a deeper level, and getting to know how each of us is motivated.

My key beliefs about classroom management surround Choice Theory and management without coercion. I believe that we are motivated intrinsically; therefore external coercion is not effective or beneficial. We do what we do because of something internal, and to fulfill our basic needs. External control, such as rewards and punishments, is not an effective motivator. I think we, as teachers, need to understand that everyone is motivated internally and use that to help the learning process.

In my opinion the use of rewards and punishments in the classroom should be lessened, if not eradicated, as they are a form of coercion. By using rewards, students only focus on getting the reward, not the importance of the learning or doing the work. Punishments often do not address the specific behavior, and can be altogether unrelated. How is it going to help a student learn not to hit other people if he is forced to sweep the parking lot instead of working on changing his behavior? Instead of punishments, natural consequences should be emphasized. There are consequences for behavior and choices that are made, some positive and some negative. Since the student chose their behavior, they will deal with the natural consequences that come about as a result. Unrelated punishments may help for a short time, but they will not help the student to learn why their behavior was wrong and will prevent them from growing or learning to change their behavior.

Another crucial aspect of classroom management in my opinion is procedures. Procedures are of the utmost importance in having a well-managed classroom. Procedures are the way in which the classroom is run and how things are done. Procedures are not rules and they do not have punishments, but students face the consequences of not following procedures correctly. Having specific procedures in place leads to a classroom that runs smoothly. This was made clear to me from watching the video of Mrs. Seroyer’s classroom management techniques. This video impacted me and gave me a new perspective on how to manage a classroom. She emphasized the importance of procedures and how they are one of the most significant parts of effective classroom management. By setting up procedures, teaching them, then rehearsing them until they are learned, students know what the expectations are and how they are supposed to do tasks in the classroom.

To me one of the most important aspects of classroom management is having a strong, positive relationship with your students. Genuinely caring about your students and showing them that you want them to succeed and are there to help is crucial. Once the students believe this, they will be more willing to put effort and care into their work and their behavior. Heather Denton highlighted the importance of this when we visited her classroom. She told us that students will be less willing to care about what we are saying if we do not show them we care for them. I agree with her that relationships are extremely important and are essentially the basis for successful classroom management.

Before taking this course, I had no knowledge about Choice Theory. I thought the only way to manage classrooms was what I had seen and experienced from being a student in many different classrooms. Most of my teachers managed their classrooms with the use of rewards and punishments, and I figured that was the most effective way to manage a classroom. I was usually one of the “good” students, and I rarely got in trouble. When I did, I was punished by time out, having my name written on the board, or something similar that did not help me learn from my mistakes.

My view on classroom management changed substantially after taking this course. It was intriguing to learn about Choice Theory, and that there is more than one way to manage a classroom. Just because classrooms are traditionally managed with rewards, punishments, and other forms of external control, it does not mean that I have to manage my classroom in those ways. I have realized that managing students begins with having a relationship with them. I also understand that everyone is motivated internally, so coercion is not effective with most students. Using rewards, punishments, and coercion never sat well with me, but now I have the knowledge to teach without using coercive techniques.

It is so encouraging to know that candidates such as Laura will be joining our teaching ranks shortly.

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It’s been almost a year exactly since I started The Better plan blog. Thanks for being a part of the journey.

4 Reasons to Choose Misery

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People spend billions of dollars on creams, and even surgeries, to look younger from the outside-in, yet maybe our aging has more to do with what’s happening from the inside-out. For instance, a recent study indicates that people who are depressed appear, at a molecular level, to be biologically older. An article in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry*, which reported on a study of over 2,000 subjects, concluded that depression can make us older by speeding up the aging process within our cells. So much for creams and scalpels.

There may actually be good news in this molecular view! Glasser believed that we choose our misery. Could it be that in the process of negotiating life’s twists and turns, and that as we choose to be happy or choose to be miserable, we are actually choosing our age? This is not the stuff of science fiction movies; this is a very real possibility.

Glasser described in Control Theory* (1985) that it can make sense to choose misery. In fact, he listed four reasons for people making such a choice.

1. It keeps angering under control

Rather than expressing our anger outward, and maybe even threatening and hurting other people, we turn it inward. We don’t know how to deal with our anger in the public arena, so we direct it to a private location.

2. It gets others to help us

When we show up as miserable or depressed it can serve as a cry for help, which can be especially appealing for men, who often don’t like to just come out and ask for help.

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3. It excuses our unwillingness to do something more effective

The more miserable or depressed we become, the more helpless we become, too. We convey that we are not capable of doing much when we are overcome with misery.

4. It helps us regain control

When we feel out of control because of how someone else is treating us or because of the difficulty of a circumstance, choosing to be miserable or to depress can very much increase our sense of control. No one can challenge us when we are helpless.

Any of these behaviors can make sense at the moment. We are desperate for a behavior that will help us feel better and we rummage around in our behavior system for something that will give us even a smidgeon of control. Being miserable doesn’t feel that great, but it feels better than the alternative, whatever we perceive the alternative to be. Somehow, misery is need-satisfying.

Of course, it is not usually a good idea to tell a person who is in the midst of being depressed or miserable that he/she is choosing it. A miserable person can become quite defensive of their misery. But there will come a time, when things are better or when the pressure is off a bit, when he/she will be more open to considering their role in the misery process.

And what a special moment it is when you first realize that misery isn’t something that just happens to you. An awareness begins to dawn in your thinking, an empowering awareness that maybe, just maybe, you can literally choose your state of mind. As you grow in your understanding of choice theory, it’s like you become immunized against misery and even depression. Yes, it can be scary to realize how much power and responsibility you have for your own mental health, but the trade from victim to empowerment is well worth it.

Without this kind of immunization our misery can sap us of the life force within us and quite literally age us way too quickly. I say go for the choice theory immunization. It keeps you young and happy all at the same time.

* The article about depression and aging can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24897247

* Control Theory has been re-printed as Take Charge of Your Life: How To Get What You Need with Choice Theory Psychology. It is available in paperback and electronically through Amazon and other booksellers.

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My thoughts have been directed toward Beirut, the schools there that I had the privilege to visit recently, and to the incredible people who work and teach in those schools. My heart goes out to them as tension and violence once again impact the region. I am praying that the Spirit will give you courage, comfort, and protection. I am praying that your schools will continue to thrive!

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Next Choice Theory Study Group

December 7

The Amazing Grid on the Carpet

Professor Tom Lee and his amazing grid on the carpet.

Professor Tom Lee and his amazing grid on the carpet.

I was walking by one of the classrooms in our department recently and caught a glimpse of something going on that lured me into the room to find out more. It turned out to be Tom Lee’s middle school methods class. Tom is one of my colleagues in the teacher education program at PUC and is famous for coming up with learning activities that are engaging and relevant.

What I saw when I entered the room was a grid that Tom had taped onto the carpet. He had moved tables in the room to create a large space for this grid, which had Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences along the vertical axis and Bloom’s taxonomy categories across the horizontal axis.

As a reminder, Gardner’s intelligences included –

1) Verbal/Linguistic

2) Logical/Mathematical

3) Visual/Spatial

4) Rhythmic/Musical

5) Body/Kinesthetic

6) Intrapersonal

7) Interpersonal

8) Naturalistic

Bloom’s taxonomy (the new version) includes –

1) Remembering

2) Understanding

3) Applying

4) Analyzing

5) Evaluating

6) Creating

The students were asked to place a marker on one of the grid spaces and then describe a lesson focus or activity based on that grid space’s “address.” For instance, a student could place a marker on the space that combined Body/Kinesthetic (vertical) and Applying (horizontal), and then, on-the-spot, create a lesson focus based on a combination of those two categories.

A blogger in search of a bird's eye view of the grid.

A blogger in search of a bird’s eye view of the grid.

Instead of placing a marker in a grid space students could also throw a marker onto the grid for a more random challenge. Students just needed to keep in mind that a row or column could not contain more than two markers. Initially, students would be able to comment on areas in which they felt more confident, however as the game went on they would need to comment on every area of the grid, regardless of their level of prior knowledge.

I joined in the activity and enjoyed listening as students displayed their creative understanding of Gardner’s intelligences and Bloom’s taxonomy. There was a special energy in the room as students engaged in the activity.

What does Tom Lee’s lesson have to do with choice theory? From a classroom perspective, quite a bit. Choice theory explains the importance of school being a need-satisfying place. Tom’s lesson was need-satisfying on several levels.

Purpose/Meaning – Students were allowed to make personal meaning from the experience. The activity was very relevant to them and challenged them to take previous learning (Gardner and Bloom) and add new layers to their own understanding.

Love/Belonging – There was an obvious camaraderie that developed during the activity. Students rooted for one another and offered comments in support of each other. This camaraderie existed between students and teachers as well.

Power/Success – You could tell students felt satisfaction as they came up with their own lesson objectives. Their ideas were ultimately affirmed by classmates and by Tom.

Freedom/Autonomy – Students had so many choices to make during this activity. They could choose the grid space to attack, and afterward they would choose the kind of lesson they wanted to teach.

Joy/Fun – Joy and fun were both present throughout this activity. Students were engaged with the learning and with each other.

Safety/Survival – I think the students, to some extent, looked into the future and saw themselves as teachers working through the same kind of challenge. Doing the activity well had something to do with their professional survival.

I love the “grid on the carpet” that Tom came up with. In future Soul Shaper / choice theory workshops that I teach I want to steal this great idea. For instance, I can see having the Basic Needs across the top (the columns) and content areas on the side (the rows). By content areas I mean Social Studies, Math, Science, Language Arts, etc. I will then have participants select a grid space (either intentionally or randomly)  – let’s say the grid space combining Social Studies and Freedom/Autonomy – and then describe how lesson objectives in that content area could address or meet that basic need. This idea is really growing on me!

Can you think of ways in which you could use the “grid on the carpet” idea? And could you take a moment and share your idea with the rest of us?

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Our next Choice Theory Study Group is December 7!

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