Posts tagged “the better plan

A Quick Take on 2015

Choice Theory (and Reality Therapy, the counseling approach based on its principles) isn’t that keen about focusing on the past. The past is .  .  .  well .  .  . past, and we can’t go back and live it again. We can focus on the present moment, though, and our plan for the future. In spite of Choice Theory’s emphasis on the now and on the future, I thought I would take a brief moment and share some data from The Better Plan blog site. Here are some overall numbers for 2015 –


2015 marked the third full year that The Better Plan has been in existence. The blog began in December, 2012, and has been sharing ideas related to Choice Theory ever since. The blog continues to grow, albeit slowly. The site had more visitors in 2015 and also had increased views. A view takes place whenever someone links to any of the articles on the blog.

While the number of Visitors and Views increased in 2015, the number of Likes and Comments went down. The number of Likes was almost the same as last year, but the number of Comments is significantly lower. Regarding the comments I am not sure what that represents. Several of you are regular “commenters,” which I appreciate a lot. I try to respond to each of the comments, as it is a good way for us to stay in touch. When you comment remember to check the small box that says you want to be alerted when someone responds. There have been some rich discussions on the blog posts and I would like to see these increase even more.

Regarding the Likes, it would be very helpful to the blog if more of you clicked on the Like button at the end of each post. The following picture shows what the end of a blog post looks like.

Screenshot 2016-01-02 10.42.06

Notice the box with the blue star and the word Like. Clicking on this can ultimately alert other readers and bloggers to the concepts of Choice Theory, so it is an easy way to help the Choice Theory community grow. As I understand it, to be able to Like a blog post you need to be registered on WordPress, the blogging site that runs The Better Plan blog, but registering is very simple. Create a user name and password and it is done. I think a lot of you are liking the blog posts, however you may not understand how to Like a post. WordPress has a huge Internet presence (I have heard that WordPress accounts for up to 20% of all daily Internet use) and Likes will alert others to a post’s importance.


In the order of their level of popularity the top Better Plan posts for 2015 were –


How To Make Schools Better for Kids, Sept. 2, 2015 (click on the title to quickly access the article)

Time magazine suggested practical strategies for school improvement, including 1) ditch traditional homework, 2) make recess mandatory, 3) screen kids for mental illness, 4) prioritize diversity, 5) turn discipline into dialogue, 6) let students customize their curriculums, 7) start classes at 8:30 am, and 8) design cafeterias that encourage healthy eating.


GREAT DREAM – Acronym for Happiness  Mar. 9, 2014

One of the most popular articles for 2015 was the GREAT DREAM post from 2014. It must have sticking power.

Glasser writing at home. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Glasser writing at home. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Unpublished Glasser Article on Pain   Jan. 21, 2015

Probably written in 2004, yet never published, it is good to hear Glasser’s voice again in this short, but important article.

The picture that came to represent the devastation of Middletown during the first night of the fire.

The picture that came to represent the devastation of Middletown during the first night of the fire.

The Valley Fire and Fitting Your Life Into a Car   Sept. 15, 2015

This was such a terrible and tragic event that came very close to our small community in 2015. Many of you were interested in this article and many of you responded with comments of empathy and support.

Blaming Might Be Funny If It Wasn’t So Darned Destructive   Mar. 12, 2015

I was glad that this post was one of the popular ones for 2015, as I think it represented some good writing, even though it was based on a truly mortifying event in my personal life. The post also included a great video clip from Brene Brown, the shame researcher.

I think all the posts were great, but the five listed above had the most views during the past year.


Most of the people accessing The Better Plan blog were from the U.S. (almost 16,000 views), but people from 129 other countries around the world accessed the blog, too. The following list identifies the top countries, other than the U.S., and the number of views during the past year.


It is amazing how something like The Better Plan blog can reach so many with choice theory and hopefully connect us to each other in the process. That is the goal!

Enough already regarding the data, right? The Better Plan will keep on keeping on during 2016. I am glad you are a part of it. I have a request of you, though. Could you help The Better Plan get more Followers in 2016. We closed 2015 with 383 people following the blog, which is up from 300 the year before. We can do better, though, and it can be as simple as inviting another person to look at a post or to join the blog. If you are a teacher you might consider letting your colleagues and student parents know about the blog. If you are a principal or superintendent you can share the blog link with your teachers. Increasing the number of people following the blog will help the word get out regarding the value of Choice Theory. Just invite them to go to –

Follow The Better Plan on Twitter as well –



Me Management

A role play during The Better Plan 2 class, which just ended yesterday.

A role play during The Better Plan 2 class, which just ended yesterday.

I am getting more requests to share The Better Plan with principal and teacher groups. The invitation follows a similar pattern – someone reads the Soul Shapers book, or hears me giving a short talk somewhere, and they ask their principal or superintendent if my sharing The Better Plan in their neck of the woods could be arranged. The person doing the inviting, the superintendent or director, may not have read Soul Shapers, yet here they are about to give the hearts and minds of their educators to someone they don’t know much about. And so I get asked, “Now what is it you present?”

Classroom clean-up almost done following The Better Plan 2 class. It has been a very meaningful week.

Classroom clean-up almost done following The Better Plan 2 class. It has been a very meaningful week.

I was actually responding to an invitation this past week at the same time that The Better Plan 1 class was in session. So I explained the situation to them and asked them to write a half page on what they saw as the essence of The Better Plan. They were asked to write to one of the following prompts:

The Better Plan is –
What I learned from The Better Plan is –

Their responses, which appear below, are instructive and invitational to each of us.

The Better Plan is about empowering individuals to choose. Unlike a classroom management class, which focuses on children being better controlled by the adult, I actually found it to be a me-management class. It makes a case for abandoning traditional methods and embarking on a new adventure – an adventure of becoming what we want our students to become.   Karie

What I learned from attending The Better Plan is that although we have been engrained with external control, we actually were created with free will. Choice theory, it turns out, compliments the way we are wired.     Lisa

What I have learned from The Better Plan is how to be more inclusive of others’ Quality World. I have learned that we have certain biases that cannot be avoided, because of how we view the real world through the lenses and filters we have had through time. Realizing that others also have these biases, and then being willing to explore each others’ perspectives can lead to a better world.   Tammy

Though I am trying to figure out exactly what it means. I do know that it means we choose everything we do, even our misery. Now I am trying to figure how I will apply it to my life and in my classroom. I also understand what it is not. The Better Plan is not coercion or manipulation; it is not the “deadly habits” or external controlling behaviors. So, since I know what it is not, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will strive to not coerce, manipulate, use external control and deadly habits in my life and classroom. Vickie

The Better Plan is a way of thinking about the world, especially when it comes to how we view other people. Primarily aimed at helping those in education professions, it is applicable to all human relationships – marriage, parenting, work settings, and boards. The Better Plan teaches us to understand Choice Theory, which maintains that we can only control ourselves; we cannot control anyone else. To work together effectively, we must seek to develop relationships, rather than attempting to use the “deadly” habits of criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, bribing, or rewarding to control. While these deadly habits are all too common in our family and work relationships, we can begin to practice this Better Plan by intentionally applying Choice Theory practices and continuing to learn and teach what we are learning to those around us.   Brad

What I learned from The Better Plan is that kids learn in many different ways. They think differently than teachers and just because the teacher sees it one way doesn’t mean the student will see it that way, too. In order to reach students, teachers need to involve them in making the learning meaningful. Education must be need-satisfying for students.     Kory

The Better Plan is about inspiring students to be responsible for themselves, to strengthen the many positive qualities they have, and to invite them to live by faith, grow in the Holy Spirit, and choose a life with Christ.   Leslie

What I have learned from The Better Plan is . . . so much. The most powerful part of the whole thing, though, is this – the only person I can control is myself. BAM!!   Krystalynn


It's even hard to erase the white board after The Better Plan 2 class.

It’s even hard to erase the white board after The Better Plan 2 class.

I really like the idea of “me-management” as a way of describing The Better Plan. I like the idea that The Better Plan honors the way in which God originally created us and wired us. I like that it sees the individuality of students and seeks to meet their unique needs. And I especially like that The Better Plan helps each of us grow in the Holy Spirit and choose a life with Christ.

Me Management and the Total Package

So, is The Better Plan about classroom management? I could answer that question with a Yes and I could answer that question with a No. Maybe a better way to ask the question would be “Will The Better Plan affect my classroom management?” The answer to this last version of the question is a resounding Yes! “What’s the difference?” you might be thinking.

When we learn about choice theory and its principles begin to influence our thinking and our behavior, it affects all of our relationships and everything we do. It positively infiltrates every aspect of our lives. It is like wearing a pair of glasses with a color-tinted lens. Everything we see is different than before. Our relationship with Jesus is seen in a new light; our relationships with the significant people in our life are seen differently; and yes, if I am a teacher, the way I manage my classroom will be profoundly and wonderfully affected. More than just a classroom management strategy, The Better Plan is about the total package of our lives!

IMG_1229 IMG_1230 IMG_1246 IMG_1236 photo 1 IMG_0031  photo 2


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.



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.

Where In the World?

thebetterplan PP redo

Where in the world did the phrase – the better plan – come from? And why was it chosen as the name for this blog?

Good questions, both. So lets get to the first one. Here is the passage “the better plan” comes from –

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. 57

As to why I chose “the better plan” as the name for the blog, I think it has to do with the Three Remarkables that can be found in the passage

Remarkable #1
The phrase was actually first written in 1872, and its author stuck with the theme of this passage through the turn of the century until her death in 1915. The passage is remarkable because of what she said – that schools should be focusing on the power that lies within students – and when she said it – at the start of the Industrial Revolution and its massive influence on the way schools operated. This internal power had everything to do with choice, freedom, and responsibility. The passage was emphasizing choice and freedom at a time when schools were becoming like factories, with an emphasis on external control.


Remarkable #2
The passage presents the reality that teachers who introduce their students to the power that lies within themselves – in other words, internal control – rather than focusing on controlling them through external control, will be misunderstood and under-appreciated. Careless observers will not get it. Traditionalists will cling to external control as the answer. It is amazing that over 100 years after it was first written the passage is still timely today.

Remarkable #3
The passage was written by a religious author, who we might assume would be part of the traditionalist, external control, “make em do what we want em to do” scheme of things. However the author wasn’t like that at all. She saw the need for and value of students coming into an understanding of their choice power. And she saw the importance of this being an inside-out process, rather than outside-in. In her opinion this process was so important that she equated “the better plan” with connecting students to a healthier after-life, including the best after-life of all – that being the forever life of life eternal.

These are some of the reasons I like the phrase “the better plan” so much. It’s all about choice and freedom.


Ellen White, the author of the better plan phrase, and the author who wrote about the special power that students have within themselves, consistently emphasized that humankind is powerless without Jesus. Through Him, she wrote time and time again, all things are possible, without Him nothing is possible. He created human beings to have the power of choice and to be free. Nothing indicates our having been created in Jesus’ image as much as this incredible freedom to act and to do and to be. And it was this freedom that He died on the Cross to preserve. Satan likes nothing better than to deface a person’s power to choose; he likes nothing better than to trap and addict and imprison. But Jesus came to earth to do a couple of incredible things –

1 – He came to destroy the works of the devil.  1 John 3:8

2 – He came to set the captives free.  Luke 4:18

Now that’s an awesome Better Plan!


Just a reminder to keep the calendar dates on the left of the page in mind, especially the Soul Shaper dates in June.

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!

I will miss you, Bill.

Bill Glasser, as we were watching a basketball game together.

Bill Glasser, as we were watching a basketball game together.

William Glasser passed away yesterday, August 23, at 6:30 PM. He died peacefully in the loving arms of his wife, Carleen. He was 88 years old.

I anticipated this day, his being gone, but it didn’t prepare me for the loss that I feel. He became more than a mentor to me. His ideas appealed to me at a deep level and ultimately changed the paradigm from which I view the world. That he and I were able to spend so much time together talking about his life and his views will always mean a great deal to me. In some ways, the biography that came out of those visits takes on even greater meaning now.

To a great extent, The Better Plan blog exists because of him. Scripture and other spiritual writers like Ellen White pointed toward a human behavior model of internal control, yet for some reason it was Bill Glasser that alerted me to the importance of the internal control model. It was my agnostic friend Bill Glasser that, in his own unique way, encouraged me to take another look at what Scripture and Ellen White have been saying all along. It was Bill who put me on the trail of the better plan.

For me, a light has gone out today. I feel a little bit more alone, a little bit more on my own. Grief is like that. It has its own agenda, it’s own clock. In time, the grief will lessen and I will see more clearly the many lights that his message ignited. Many besides me were affected by his ideas. As the creator of reality therapy and the architect of choice theory, Glasser meant a lot to a lot of people. That really is where I want my focus to be. Instead of dwelling on the light that has gone out, I want to think about the many lights that will begin to shine brighter. And by many lights I mean you and me and the potential of our modeling lives of strength and freedom.

In the coming days and months there will be time to say more. For now I am of the mind to reflect on Glasser’s effect on my life and cherish the time I had with him. My heart goes out to those who are especially feeling his passing–his immediate family and his close circle of friends and colleagues. We will miss him and there’s no getting around it.

I hope the media takes note of his passing and reminds people of what Glasser stood for and what he accomplished during his career. I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you see or hear something on the news or in the print media regarding William Glasser.  I feel blessed to have called him my friend.

It’s THE better plan

The phrase “the better plan” did not make it as the title of the book. Soul Shapers took that distinction. The Soul Shapers title was better than The Blindfolded Dolphin, however it could be misleading if a reader thought that it was his/her role to shape the souls of the children in his/her care. During one of our conversations regarding the title one of the Review editors informed me that the subtitle of the book would be A Better Plan for Parents and Educators. I was glad that the phrase “better plan” was going to be on the cover, but wondered aloud why it was going to be printed as “A” better plan, rather than “The” better plan. She explained that “A” made it sounded more open and allowed for their being other good plans, too. Proclaiming it as “The” better plan made it sound like it was THE way and that there weren’t other ways that might be good, too. I replied that the phrase “the better plan” was not my idea. I didn’t come up with that emphasis. I got the idea from the following quote –

“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. 57

In referring to “the better plan” in this blog I have often written it as ” . . . the better plan . . .”, rather than “The Better Plan.” I have surrounded the phrase with ellipses to emphasize that it is a part of something bigger, some important things that come before and something important that comes after. One of the important things that comes before is the idea that our motivation is internally driven, not externally controlled by others. I believe God designed us with freedom to choose and that ultimately He died on the cross to preserve this freedom. Another important thing that comes before is a description of a teacher that prefers control and compliance, rather than guidance and freedom. An important thing that comes after is the reference to “the after-life.” which to me means both the life we lead after we leave school and, most importantly, the life we lead eternally. That this topic has eternal implications makes it really important to me.

I grew up a PK – that is, a preacher”s kid. My dad passed away before Soul Shapers came out in 2005. If he had lived long enough, I think he would have been very pleased at its being published, although the concepts of internal, rather than external, control would have been a stretch for him. His upbringing as a child and the views of his generation, in general, would have led to a steep learning curve with these non-traditional ideas. I don’t know that he always got it right when it came to non-coercive living and leadership. One thing he did get right (and he had many) was his value of and support for Christian education. When it came to “his” church school he talked the talk and walked the walk. He was always involved in a project to raise money for the school. (Many of these were smaller projects, but some were bigger, like the time he planted and harvested 50 acres of sunflowers.) His Education sermons frequently included a reference to what he called an “education blueprint” that, I now assume, could allegedly be found in the Spirit of Prophecy. As I mentioned in Soul Shapers, after 35 years in Adventist education, and after a lot of time spent in the Spirit of Prophecy, I am not aware of a blueprint for SDA education. The phrase . . . the better plan . . . comes the closest to it as far as I know. To me . . . the better plan . . . captures the idea that children (and adults for that matter) are in the process of forming their own characters and as significant adults in their lives we have the privilege of guiding, modeling, inviting, persuading, and inspiring them to form characters that serve others and honor God. And so I have embraced . . . the better plan . . . I like it, in fact, enough to name this blog after it.

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