For Your Students

Perception + Attitude = Experience

Perception of Power

Attitude of Cooperation

Experience of Success


The Tools for Your Students fall into three categories:  Self Management, Social Interaction, and Academic.  The reason I’m writing this book is to suggest that, even in today’s classroom, a teacher can create an environment that allows children . . .

  • to see themselves as powerful in the best sense of the word (Perception),
  • to learn healthy ways of thinking about themselves and others (Attitude), and
  • to develop skills that will serve them well as they grow into competent adults (Experience).


CHAPTER 1: The Perception of Power

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.      Henry Ford

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can … The Little Engine Who Could


The word “power” has gotten a bad rap – and probably rightly so.  We don’t have to look far to see people being hurt by others who feel the need to assert their power inappropriately.  It’s my belief, however, that the drive to exert power over others comes from a deep sense of powerlessness.  When an individual feels no sense of internal power, the need to control others can get totally out of hand.

The best place, perhaps, to see that drama in action is on the elementary school playground.  Any teacher knows that you don’t have to dig very deep to find that the classroom bully plays the role of the victim somewhere else in his or her life.

The tools in this chapter are designed to help children reflect upon their own thoughts, feelings, and actions in real life situations.   As they become more self-aware,  they will begin to appreciate their ability to make positive choices that will impact their academic performance, the way they feel about themselves, and how they interact with others.



  • Autonomy:
    • The Johari Window
    • “Mirrors”
  • Capability:  Academic Rubrics and Self-Assessment
  • Self Awareness:  Personal Rubrics and Self-Assessment Tools
    • Safety Self Assessment
    • S.T.A.R Problem Solving


CHAPTER 2:   The Attitude of Cooperation


We live in a highly competitive society.  In fact, at the most basic level, competition is a survival mechanism.  “It’s a ‘dog eat dog’ world,” some people would say . . . and unfortunately many children come to school believing that.  The phrase “perceived survival” occurs to me when I think of what often goes on in the classroom.

Competition doesn’t need to be taught;  cooperation does.

So when a teacher has only so much time in the day, how can this be done?   I would suggest that the best use of classroom time is to hold class meetings and focus on establishing an attitude of cooperation from the very first day of school.  Many teachers, and, perhaps, most administrators will argue that this will take away from the sacred concept of “time on task.”  In my experience, however, taking 30 minutes each morning saves countless hours that would otherwise be spent dealing with discipline problems and social issues.

The tools in this chapter build upon the sense of Autonomy, Capability, and Self Awareness that we worked on in Chapter 1.   Once children perceive themselves as valuable members of the group, they are better prepared to appreciate the value in others.  Jack Canfield defined self-esteem like this:  “Appreciating my own worth and importance and having the character to be accountable for myself and to act responsibly toward others.”    The goal is empathy.  Bullies and victims will come to see themselves in a more realistic and positive light.  Inappropriate competition will diminish as the principles of cooperation established in the class meeting are lived out on a daily basis.


  • Belonging:   Character Education
  • Connection:   Class Meetings
  • Cooperation:    Project Teams
    • (From Committees to Cooperative Learning to Project Teams – Linda Margarian – March 5, 2014)
    • (Paul’s “Project Teams” at Hughes)


CHAPTER 3:  The Experience of Success

I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could …   The Little Engine Who Could

(Introduction:  Self Esteem)


  • Responsibility:   Individual Learning Plans
  • Empowerment:   Portfolios
  • Leadership:    Student Led Conferences (Introduction in Comment – 9/11/16)


2 Responses to For Your Students Comments (RSS) Comments (RSS)

  1. Clint sent me his definition of LEADERSHIP as part of an email discussion that ended like this: “I’ll go out on a limb and say, Donald Trump doesn’t have these attributes. 😉 And history will eventually tells us whether or not Hillary Clinton does.” Clinty

    The conversation began when I sent him a link to my post on Meanderings called “What’s an Evangelical Voting Block” and this was his reply:

    Hi, Bette!

    An interesting perspective on the Trump phenomena.

    I’m reminded that Haidt makes the case that genetics contribute to our eventual adoption of either conservative or liberal values; i.e., different sets of genes, give us different “first drafts”, which lead us down different paths, through different life experiences, and into different moral subcultures. The “bridge” between groups, in my opinion, comes in the form of leadership. I define LEADERSHIP as, “the ability to compromise, collaborate, build consensus, and bring people together in a harmonious way.” I like to believe that leadership will help facilitate our ability to “read, think, challenge, or hear opposing views.”

    Later he wrote: Maybe I’m naïve or don’t understand politics, but I keep hoping for someone in Washington DC to exhibit those “leadership” qualities. I know it made a BIG difference at the local government level.

    The question I want to explore in this chapter goes beyond taking this definition to the local government level and into the elementary school classroom. WHAT IF … the the only “Common Core Standard” were this one: “All students will develop the ability to compromise, collaborate, build consensus, and bring people together in a harmonious way.”


  2. Linda and I had an interesting talk about “Cooperative Learning” . . . and why I like the terms “Project Teams” better. I told her about Paul’s project teams with Hughes Aircraft. I want to write more about that in Tools for Your Students: “Attitude of Cooperation.” When we started teaching we had kids working in “Committees.” The 1980’s took us into “Cooperative Learning . . . and I want to reframe that as “Project Teams” . . .

    Linda . . . I know you had more ideas about that . . . love to have you write about them!

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