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Choice Theory in the Classroom: Where Every Student Can Succeed
Workshop #: CECO-23


This course covers the theoretical underpinnings of choice theory as well as suggested strategies for teaching choice theory to students, integrating choice theory in the learning environment, and illustrating choice theory in lesson plans across subject areas. This course focuses on conveying strategies to help teachers develop choice theory connections with and among the students in their classrooms. It is intended to present the basic concepts of choice theory and how it is applied in the classroom at any grade level. Participants will have the opportunity to learn choice theory by reflecting on its relevance in their own lives and applying it in their classrooms. This course builds a framework for understanding students’ motivations from a new perspective and an opportunity to practice choice theory by creating learning experiences for students that help them to keep school, teachers, and school work in their quality worlds for a lifetime of learning. This course will require participants to engage in self-reflection, critical thinking and personal practice of the ideas being taught. Just reading about choice theory is not enough to internalize its ideas and begin operating from them intrinsically. Personal experiences with choices theory involving critical thinking and personal practice will help participants understand the relevance and benefits of applying choice theory in their lives, in their relationships with students, and in their professional practice. Choice theory in education provides an intrinsic model of teaching and learning that is focused on increasing students’ self-understanding and their ability to evaluate their choices and schoolwork for quality and effectiveness. Austrian neurologist and renowned Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl affirmed, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our responses lie our growth and our freedom.” This course will invite participants to find and explore that space of choice and freedom. As such, this course may challenge the way participants were taught to learn and teach, but all of the ideas presented in this course can be implemented in any classroom at any school if the people in those systems choose to do so.

Course Objectives: Participants will

  • Learn that choice theory is an intrinsic model of psychology and learning that is based on the premise that we can make effective choices that lead to happiness
  • Understand the detriment of external control practices in relationships and schools
  • Learn the 5 basic needs of choice theory and appreciate that students’ behaviors reflect their attempts to satisfy one or more of these basic needs
  • Appreciate that everyone has a quality world that contains pictures of what is most important to them and that degrees of happiness correspond with the ability to have quality world experiences
  • Understand that all behavior is total behavior comprised of actions, thoughts, feelings, and physiology
  • Learn that all total behavior is chosen and that self-understanding increases the likelihood of making more effective choices that contribute to happiness
  • Discover that each individual has a unique creative system that is a reservoir of possibility and ingenuity
  • Understand that the threat of failure has detrimental outcomes for students and that there are considerable benefits to creating a success-based learning environment
  • Create classroom meetings plans that explore choice theory topics using the define, personalize, and challenge method of teaching
  • Understand the meaning of quality in schools and how quality is reflected by leader teachers who expect competent schoolwork and encourage quality
  • Learn how to use classroom meetings, choice theory language, connecting relationship habits, and solution-focused strategies to teach choice theory to students
  • Know the value of providing students with meaningful, relevant educational experiences and how to embed choice theory in lesson plans

Student Expectations:

This online course is reflective and interactive. Participants will engage in a variety of critical thinking activities to learn, practice, and apply the skills outlined in the course. These will include journal exercises and forum exercises requiring short answers that are reviewed by a moderator. Each lesson is divided into multiples sections with an associated quiz. There is a midterm exam as well as a comprehensive final exam. Participants may reference course content and notes during quizzes and exams. Participation in all of these areas is necessary for students to successfully complete the course with a passing grade.


Methods of Instruction

A variety of strategies are employed in this course:

  • Content presented for participants to read online—the formal instruction
  • Illustrative video vignettes of interviews with administrators, teachers, and students at a Glasser Quality School
  • Journal exercises that promote a personal understanding of the lesson topic
  • An online forum where participants to post ideas about how they would apply choice theory in their classrooms
  • Illustrative handouts are provided to serve as guides for teachers as they create their own curriculum supplements; they can also be used “as is” for instruction and exploration

Content Outline/Topics

  1. Lesson One
    1. Provide an Overview of the Structure of the Course
    2. Provide an introduction to Choice Theory’s basic components: 5 basic needs, quality world, total behavior, creativity
    3. Provide an introduction to external control psychology and its detriment to relationships
  2. Lesson Two
    1. Understand that Choice Theory is an internal motivation psychology
    2. Understand that we choose everything we do
    3. Understand that choice theory is a psychology of hope
  3. Lesson Three
    1. Understand that external control psychology is an organized, yet often undetected system of thought
    2. Understand external control psychology and its impact on relationships
    3. Understand the four variations of external control and how to recognize them
    4. Understand the 3 false beliefs of external control
    5. Understand the relationship habits of choice theory
  4. Lesson Four
    1. Understand the genetic nature of the basic needs that drive behavior
    2. Understand the basic need of survival
    3. Understand the basic need of love & belonging
    4. Understand the basic need of power
    5. Understand the basic need of freedom
    6. Understand the basic need of fun
  5. Lesson Five
    1. Understand the real world verses the perceived world
    2. Understand the concept of the quality world
    3. Understand how quality world experiences satisfy our basic needs
    4. Understand the impact of discrepancies between reality and the quality world
    5. Understand the dynamic interactions when quality worlds encounter one another
    6. Understand the impact of harmful quality world images
  6. Lesson Six
    1. Understand the four components of total behavior – actions, thoughts, feelings, physiology
    2. Understand that all total behavior is chosen
    3. Understand that behaviors are most accurately stated as verbs
  7. Lesson Seven
    1. Understand Creativity and Its Role in Education
    2. Understand the two part behavioral system
    3. Understand what can happen when creativity is frustrated
    4. Understand the role of creativity in making choices and the importance of self-understanding and learning to ask for help
  8. Midterm There will be a 50 question midterm exam. Participants may reference course content and notes during exams.
  9. Lesson Eight
    1. Understand the harm of threatening failure
    2. Understand the benefit of removing the threat of failure
    3. Understand the value of caring relationships in promoting success
    4. Understand the value of student-lead homework
  10. Lesson Nine
    1. Understand the meaning of quality as it applies to a choice theory learning environment
    2. Understand the role of teachers as lead managers
    3. Understand the importance of expecting competent work from students
    4. Understand the meaning of quality and quality school work
  11. Lesson Ten
    1. Using Classroom Meetings to Teach Choice Theory
    2. Understand the Importance of Connecting Rather Than Disciplining
    3. Using Choice Theory principles for Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving
    4. Understand the Power of Language to Convey Choice Theory Principles Rather Than External Control
  12. Lesson Eleven
    1. Create lesson plans using choice theory principles to increase student motivation
    2. Create lesson plans that teach choice theory principles to students
    3. Create lesson plans that are embedded with choice theory
    4. Create lesson plans using choice theory as a tool for investigation and understandingv
  13. Lesson Twelve
    1. Provide an introduction to Glasser Quality Schools
    2. Provide a lecture excerpt from Dr. Glasser describing Glasser Quality Schools
    3. Provide resource information for further study

Final Exam
There will be a 100 question comprehensive final exam that will cover content from Lessons 1 – 10 of the course. Participants may reference course content and notes during exams.

Skills Transfer

The entire course is designed for application in the real world of the participant. The course not only provides the core knowledge of what choice theory is and why it is effective, it also gives numerous examples of effective strategies that can be immediately transferred by participants into their classroom practices. Participants are strongly encouraged to creatively develop their own strategies for teaching choice theory to students, create a choice theory principled classroom environment, and integrate choice theory ideas in curriculum.

Contact Information:
425-788-7275 ext 104


Graduate credit is available after course completion for an additional fee from various universities.

Registration Fee
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