Discipline Through Careful
Teacher Guidance and
Instruction
RONALD MORRISH
WWW.REALDISCIPLINE.COM
Mark Neves, Rochelle Reynolds, Nicole Girardin Elias
Biography
 Ronald Morrish was a teacher and a behaviour specialist
in Canada for 26 years before becoming a consultant. He
has authored three books, Secrets of Discipline
(1997), where he discusses 12 key ways to raising
responsible children without engaging in deal making.
With all Due Respect (2000) focussed on Improving
teachers discipline issues and Flip Tips (2003) a mini
book with discipline tips
 Real Discipline teaches students right from wrong and
expects students to comply with authority, then
encourages them to make choices when they are mature
and experienced.
Morrish Discipline Gone Wrong
 Assigns much of the responsibility on how society allows
students too many choices about how the conduct their
behaviour.
 This approach failed for three reasons:
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It does not demand proper behaviour
It requires teachers to bargain and negotiate to get students to
cooperate
It doesn’t teach students how they are expected to behave
 Focus on behaviour management rather than real
discipline.
 Both are needed but management is about making the
learning environment functional, keeping students on
task and minimizing disruptions. Real Discipline
teaches student how to behave properly.
Real Discipline
 Not a new theory but an organized set of techniques
teachers and parents have used over the years that
teaches students to be respectful, responsible and
cooperative.
 Many children are over indulged and very self centered,
concerned with their needs. We as a society have stressed
individual rights but have not focused a lot personal
responsibility.
 They should have choice but only when they are prepared
to deal with those choices. Before they can make choices
they must have a degree of compliance and respect for
authority.
Some Flip Tips
 Discipline is a process not an event.
 Discipline is about giving students the structure they
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need, not the consequences they seem to deserve.
Discipline isn’t about letting students make their own
choices. It’s about preparing them for the choices they
will be making.
Don’t let students makes choices that are not theirs to
make.
The best time to teach behaviour is when it’s not needed,
so it will be there when needed.
Discipline should end with the correct behaviour not
with a punishment.
Real Discipline’s Three-Phase Approach
 Training, Teaching and Managing
 Training and Compliance
 Compliance should be trained as a non-thinking activity,
you don’t have choice.
 It is taught through direct instruction and close
supervision, small things count, address all behaviour.
 Teach students to comply with rules, limits and
authority, rules indicate how student are to behave.
 Authority refers to the power that has been assigned to
a certain individual. Teachers should use their authority
to set limits.
 Rules and Compliance
 Teachers need to make the rules, teach why we have
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the rules
Don’t make rules you can’t enforce, be consistent,
insistence is best strategy
Limits and Compliance
Limits are set by teachers, no negotiation. If limits
are broken set time to discuss. Your word is final
Limits are compromised by bargaining
 Authority and Compliance
 Teachers fear that automatic compliance will make their
students passive and submissive and unable to think for
themselves.
 More balance between teacher and student choice
 Authority comes from knowing our job, setting limits,
choice words.
 Clearly communicate without threatening or raising
voice this is what you must do “It is my job.”
 “If you bargain for compliance now. You will
beg for it later.”
Phase 2, Teaching Students How to Behave
 Teaching the students the skills, attitudes and
knowledge needed to cooperation, proper behaviour
and increased responsibility.
 Teach rules through explanation, demonstration,
practice and corrective feedback.
Phase 3, Managing Student Choice
 Choice Management
 A movement towards independence, students must
take into account the needs of others.
 As a rule of thumb if students don’t care about the
outcome of a particular goal they should not be
allowed choice about it.
Planning the Discipline Program
 Should be proactive, should anticipate
problems.
 11 Steps
1. Decide how you want students to behave
2. Design the supporting structure
3. Establish a threshold for behaviour at
school
4. Run a two-week training camp
5. Teach students how to behave appropriately
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Ten things that should be taught; courtesy, how to
treat a sub, conflict prevention, self-discipline,
concentration, solution focussed, thinking about others,
perseverance, being a good role model, being a good
ambassador for class and school
6. Set stage for quality instruction
7. Provide active and assistive supervision
8. Enforcing rules and expectations
9. A Focus on prevention
10. Set high standards
11. Treat parents as partners
Developing Teacher Student Relationship
 The single most important factor in classroom
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discipline
Focus on Positive
Wipe slate clean after mistakes
Don’t back away from discipline
Lead the way
Never use humiliation to correct behaviour
Don’t accept mediocrity
Consequences in Real Discipline
 Consequences should show students how to behave
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properly
Compensation something positive for negative
behaviour
Letter writing
Improvement plan
Teach younger students
When Students Fail to Comply
 Insist on a do-over, have students repeated the
behaviour in an acceptable manner, most power full
tool is insistence.
Moving to Real Discipline
 It takes time and there are no short cuts
 Initiating Real Discipline in the classroom
 Communicate to students
 Explain duties, explain their roles, project a friendly
authority, introduce rules thoroughly, tell them
about insistence, and direct teach.
Discussion
 In small groups, discuss one of the following
questions. Each group will be given one specific
question, but feel free to move onto others if time
permits. Each group will be responsible to have
someone report back to the larger group.
Discussion
 1. Ronald Morrish makes some interesting points about student choice.
For example, the teacher should set the rules, not the class. Describe a
situation where you would agree with Morrish and this idea would
work.
 2. “Discipline is about giving children what they need, not what they
deserve.” Discuss this quote used by Ronald Morrish. Do you agree?
 3. Does your school use a code of conduct? How is it implemented?
Were students involved in the development of it? Is it effective?
 4. Given the following situation, explain how Morrish would deal with
it. How would you?
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Lucy does not really like Julie and often makes rude comments
towards her. Julie has had enough of this and yells at Lucy in
the middle of class.
Limitations and Oversights
#1-Ronald Morrish appears to have invented his approach at a
time when inclusion was not at the forefront of public
education (back in the 1970's and 80's). In Building
Classroom Discipline, we learn that the basic underlying
message is, “This is what you must do. This is the job you are
here for. Now let's get on with it”. One has to wonder if he
was keeping in mind students with
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-ADHD
-Oppositional Defiant Disorder (who often don't have trust in adults or
authority)
-Anxiety
-Depression
-Autism
-Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
-Learning disabilities
#2-The school principal or administrator would have
to be 100% on-board with this system.
 For example, Morrish believes that the teacher
always has the final word and that students have no
choice but to do as the teacher instructs. While this
is a very simple and sound philosophy, the school
principal would have to be behind this approach so
that negotiating does not occur and the teacher does
not lose his or her power.
#3-This is in contradiction to Ross Greene (Ph.D) and his
approach knows as “collaborative problem-solving” (or
CPS for short)
 In collaborative problem-solving, the following 3-point
approach is always used when a problem occurs:
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The student and adult bring forth their concerns
Together, they brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. The
phrase, “this doesn't work for me” is used often when the adult does
not like the student's behaviour or choice”.
They come up with a solution that works for both the adult and
student. They try out the solution and review it together some time
later.
 In his book, Lost at School Greene would argue that
the reason we are seeing so many problems is due to
the fact that students who exhibit behaviour
problems often have what is called “lagging skills”. A
lagging skill is basically a skill that one does not yet
possess. This could include:
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difficulty handling transitions
difficulty seeing how one is coming across to others
difficulty seeking attention in appropriate ways
difficulty managing an appropriate response to frustration
 Greene would argue that these are all skills that can be
taught and result due to a lack of executive functioning
in the brain. He believes that by teaching problemsolving skills, students will be equipped to deal with
similar situations when they arise in the future and they
will come to rely less and less on adult intervention.
Greene believes that this is basically an invisible
disability and students are not choosing to act out or be
selfish.
 What this means for Real Discipline is that if an adult is
consistently just reminding students what the rules are
and what needs to be done, the same explosive behaviour
will occur again and again with no improvement.
#4-Do Morrish's “consequences” really work? What is the research on
this?
 Morrish believes that it can be necessary to use consequences. He
believes in:
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-compensation (doing something positive to make up for negative behaviour)
-letter writing (writing a letter to the person who was offended)
-creating an improvement plan (a plan for handling the situation better next
time)
 How many teachers though have implemented the 'letter writing
system' or 'compensation plan' system only to have the student do
something along similar lines a few days later? Do these systems
really work in 'fixing' these behaviour problems?
References
 Charles, C.M. (2011). Building Classroom Discipline
(10th ed). Toronto: Pearson.
 Greene, Ross W (2008). Lost at School. New York
City, USA: Simon and Schuster
 Morrish, Ronald. (2000). With All Due Respect.
Fonthill: Woodstream Publishing.
 Morrish, Ronald. (1998). Secrets of Discipline.
Fonthill: Woodstream Publishing.
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