Responses to Our January 2018 Article on No Nonsense Nurturer

I want to thank everyone who responded to the article about No Nonsense Nurturer. I’m going to publish the responses I received from TPS and from CT3, which created and sells the NNN classroom management strategy. In addition to these responses, I received many emails and phone calls from teachers and others who wished to remain anonymous. I will also include excerpts from those at the end.–Betty Casey. 

Response from Tera Carr, Principal at Hamilton Elementary


I happily serve Hamilton Elementary as principal. I was an assistant principal at Clinton Middle School for 2 years, and taught high school math and special education at Webster High School for 3 years prior to that.

I would like to offer insight into NNN in response to this article:

As a teacher, an assistant principal, and now as a principal I use No-Nonsense Nurturing. My staff is all in with No-Nonsense Nurturing, and these strategies have not only helped create strong classrooms cultures but have offered ways of supporting even our most challenging students. The strategies provide more time on task, and help my classrooms feel safe, loving, and purposeful.

The article states: The NNN belief structure of “earning respect,” “100 percent compliance 100 percent of the time,” and expecting all students to behave in the same way is “built on false assumptions, disproved with neuroscience research over the past 25 years. No-Nonsense Nurturing is founded on the belief that all students are alike and capable of the same response to correction, which also flies in the face of well-established neuroscience,” he said.

Response: If we do not assume that our children are all capable of achieving greatness then we are not only lowering the bar, but are giving in to racism, bigotry, and systems of oppression. We assume children in poverty can’t behave – which is what has led us to the opportunity gap our nation faces today.

The article states: “No-Nonsense Nurturing is not good for a stressed population of kids. It’s supposed to have an emphasis on building relationships with kids,” she said, “but teachers don’t see that; they just see this as robotic. Our kids are not all the same.”

Response: NNN creates an environment of safety, predictability, and multiple opportunities to make the right choice. This is absolutely what children of trauma need in their lives, according to research. My teachers are very bought in to this program and I’d like to invite Tulsa Kids to visit schools who are effectively using the program before demonizing it publicly.

The strategies are not scripted, nor are we not “allowed” to thank children. We thank children for being a good friend or helping. We do not thank them for sitting in a seat, as we do not set the bar that low for our children.

I am appalled at this publishing, and deeply offended that information was utilized from someone who no longer works for TPS and those who want to “avoid negative retribution” from TPS. This is cowardice at its best, and shameful for an entity to give this enough precedence to create an entire article.

I cordially invite Tulsa Kids for a tour of Hamilton to see our positive, high-performing school culture that is built on the strategies of No-Nonsense Nurturing. Our school hours are 7:30 am – 3:40 pm.

Thank you for your time.

All in,


Response from CT3

In​ ​response​ ​to​ ​TulsaKids:

Regrettably, CT3 was not given the opportunity to provide an interview to TulsaKids in advance of their January 2018 publication, so below are points of clarification about our work.

CT3 supports teachers and school leaders to become culturally relevant and build life-altering relationships with their students. CT3’s work, including No-Nonsense Nurturer (NNN), was developed by observing the practices of highly skilled teachers with consistently strong results in the classroom, particularly in underserved communities. We have supported school districts like Tulsa Public Schools across the nation in this work since 2009.

  • Effective No-Nonsense Nurturers believe earning student respect is the result of developing life-altering relationships with youth in addition to acting with consistency and fairness in the classroom. NNN is based on the belief that all students can achieve, not that all students are the same. Students learn best from teachers who know them and show care.
  • NNN leverages predictable, clear incentives and consequences to ensure students can trust their teachers to respond fairly and consistently to both on-task and off-task choices. Corrective action is not a practice of No-Nonsense Nurturers, and compliance is not the goal. Authentic student engagement with the academic content is.
  • There is nothing prescriptive about NNN. Teachers internalize the concepts and build trust with students by applying the language of the NNN strategies to their instructional delivery, not by repeating a script. There are no scripts in NNN. Coaches incorporate best practices to support teachers in their classrooms to provide consistent, safe learning environments so all teachers and students can thrive.
  • Teachers should often say “please” and “thank you”! No-Nonsense Nurturers constantly use positive language and model manners and polite language. We encourage teachers to consider taking “please” out of their precise directions so it doesn’t sound optional, thus setting the stage for possible miscommunication between a teacher and student.
  • Positively noticing, out loud (also known as narrating) students who are following directions occurs directly after a precise direction and recognizes students who have met expectation, giving others who have not the opportunity to make a positive choice to follow a direction, on their own. ● Color charts and color systems are not a part the NNN body of work
  • NNN is not a packaged curriculum. It supports teachers in building relationships through high expectations, caring and consistent classroom practices. It can work in conjunction with other systems including PBIS.

CT3 takes seriously its commitment to support educators. Our surveys tell us that across the nation:

  • 94% of teachers found No-Nonsense Nurturer training valuable or extremely valuable
  • 88% of teachers reported that they are likely or very likely to recommend that a colleague take the No-Nonsense Nurturer course in-person or online
  • 81% of Tulsa teachers reported that they agree or strongly agree with, “As a result of No-Nonsense Nurturer training and Real Time Teacher Coaching, I am a more effective teacher.”

We continually receive positive feedback from many educators working within TPS:

  • Of Mr. Seabourn (Hale Jr. High), his students say, “Some teachers yell at you and he’s calm and tells us what we need to do and we do it for him. He’s a good dude.”
  • From Ms. Walton (Choteau Elementary School): “This is awesome…my life feels like it’s getting easier now by the day…I know they can do this, it’s not all of the loud talking, hands up, anymore and I can see the kids getting it. I don’t have to keep saying, ‘no, stop, don’t do that.’ I just feel like I don’t have to keep doing that anymore.”
  • From Ms. Brown, a veteran teacher of 20 years (Hawthorne Elementary School): “This helped me be more positive to my kids. I can see the benefit of being more nurturing. I like this and want more of it. Wow! I can learn some new things!” More information on CT3 and the No-Nonsense Nurturer philosophy, including documented teacher feedback can be found on the CT3 website or CT3 Facebook page. We welcome informed questions, productive dialogue and the opportunity to share more about this important work.

From Emma Garrett-Nelson, Director of Communications with Tulsa Public Schools

This response was received from Emma Garrett-Nelson, director of communications with Tulsa Public Schools. It is followed by a response to Garrett-Nelson from Dr. Robert Hudson, recently retired from OU-Tulsa:

“I had a chance to read your article about NNN and wanted to ensure that you have the most accurate information possible. I’ve included some supplemental notes and corrections below. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is anything else that might be helpful.

From the article: Linda Gier said, “Last year, the people I supervised were forced to become Coaches. They spent a semester coaching teachers under the supervision from NNN trainers.”

At no time was any behavioral coach “forced” to become a NNN trainer. Instead, we allotted time and resources for behavioral coaches to be trained on the NNN model as real-time teacher coaches who support with behavioral issues. We received feedback from these behavioral coaches that they were glad to have received additional support and training for their work with schools and teachers.

>From the article: “Paula Shannon became deputy superintendent, she made the decision to drop PBIS and implement NNN.”

This is not accurate – we did not “drop” PBIS. There are schools that use the PBIS model and incorporate other tools as needed such as NNN. Within PBIS there are opportunities for alternative ways to manage student behavior. We have shared links to all of the recommended PBIS interventions to our schools both last year and this year. We encourage our schools to use all resources available to them to help improve student behavior.

From the article: “Teachers also did not have the necessary on-site support to make them successful.”

Initial training was provided to all teachers at 2016-2017 Teacher Institute, and we provided the initial training to all new hires in the 2017-2018 school year. We also do site-based follow-up trainings and provide support through teacher mentors and coaches. While we can – and should – always do more to support our teachers, it would not be accurate to say that they do not have on-site support.

From the article: “Dr. Hudson said that low-performing schools have a ‘higher proportion of disruptive students’ who have difficulty with impulse control, flexibility, problem-solving and social/emotional development.”

We can confirm that Dr. Robert Hudson had a research project approved by the district in October 2016. The topic was focused on examining whether executive function in pre-k students was correlated with a variety of test measures. The research did not, however, examine whether low performing schools are associated with a higher proportion of disruptive students.

Dr. Hudson’s statement that low-performing schools have a “higher proportion of disruptive students who have difficulty with impulse control, flexibility, problem-solving, and social/emotional development” would not be based on research that he did at Tulsa Public Schools.

From the article: “Eight teachers walked out at Hale Junior High.”

The characterization that “eight teachers walked out at Hale Junior High” due to student behavioral issues is not correct. I understand that Principal Parsons has reached out to you already to talk more. The Hale team is seeing some exciting gains and improvements, and I know Principal Parsons would be happy to talk about the work happening at the school.

Again, don’t hesitate to get in touch should you need anything further.”

Follow-up Response from Dr. Robert J. Hudson, MD

Dear Ms Garrett-Nelson,

This is in reply to your response to Betty Casey about the “most accurate information,” of her article on NNN and specifically my quote.

Your statement that my quote about low performing schools have a higher proportion of disruptive students, “would not be based on research that he did at Tulsa Public Schools” is incorrect.  To know this would require that you have read the results of my research or heard my report to the TPS representatives. Neither is true. Nor have I heard from you to clarify any of the facts.

To better understand my research let me explain what executive functions are and their significance.  Executive functions measure impulse control, mental flexibility / problem solving, emotional control and social/emotional development. Students with good EFs are able to behave in class, learn and get along with their peers on the playground. Those who have poor EFs are not. They are disruptive and have poor test scores as a result. They also decrease the learning of those students who have good EFs. The reason for the research was to prove that poor EFs result in poor test scores, which we did prove. The next logical step is to help these struggling students with interventions to improve their EFs.

Most of mainstream education has not embraced the neuroscience of behavior and learning and they fall prey to nonscientific and non-peer reviewed (not proven) programs like No Nonsense Nurturing.

If you are interested in discussing my research you can contact me through this email.

Robert J Hudson, MD

Recently retired Clinical Professor Pediatrics

OU-TU School of Community Medicine

Other Email Responses

I [Betty Casey] appreciate all of the emails and phone calls about the No Nonsense Nurturer article in the January issue of TulsaKids. Here are a few emails I received from teachers as well as quotes from extensive interviews I had with teachers in the district:

“We call it [No Nonsense Nurturer] No Nonsense Nothing. ‘Positive Narration’ is not positive. There’s nothing positive about it. It was driving us crazy. My class is fantastic because I don’t have a neutral voice. I create relationships, and I have excellent relationships with my students. I think TCTA has tried to talk to the administration about it. They don’t listen. They don’t seem to give a hoot about what we think.”

“The whole thing is condescending. I’m a seasoned, professional teacher. I get good results. I take pride in the test scores I get. We’re scared to speak up because we’re scared to lose our jobs. NNN, CKLA, Eureka Math. It’s already decided.”

“Who is paying for No Nonsense Nurturer and how much does it cost? Why is it good for children in poverty or children of color? Since when is exactly equal treatment the same as ‘fair’?”

“Thank you for writing the piece of NNN at TPS. I am a teacher within 2 of the four cohort schools that it’s all non-nonsense. Some teachers have left already this year and more plan to leave next.  You are absolutely right, the joy has been sucked out of teaching. I noticed an asst. principal comment online that your article was all wrong, I beg to differ but can’t do it publicly. Thank you again!  Love your magazine!”

“No Nonsense Nurturer has nothing to do with what we do every day. We don’t work with canned children. They’re not scripted. They [NNN] say when you say ‘please,’ you are begging. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying ‘please.’ Teacher retention is not about pay. You can see that from the teacher retention survey. It’s about no support and no consequences and the students see that. Principals aren’t allowed to suspend. There’s no one to talk to.”

“I like my students. I feel like I make a difference, but I feel like I can’t do what I used to do every day. The only reason I’m still here is because of my school, but I’m unsure if I’m actually going to stay here. The environment doesn’t acknowledge that we are smart, educated people.”

“We have no in-school suspension. We don’t have that, but other schools do. You need a licensed, certified teacher in the [suspension] room. NNN doesn’t work in building relationships with the children. It didn’t work with anyone. The district thinks this is the be-all and end-all. The problems are so deep, and we need to help the children have better behavior. But nothing changes. One training on one day is all we’ve had. And we know almost nothing that happens in other schools. There was a time with Ballard for teachers to sit around and talk. Now it’s all planned out for us and we have no time to speak out. One time Devin Fletcher (chief talent officer and chief learning officer with TPS) facilitated a group consisting of one teacher from each school to talk about discipline and lack of support. One teacher talked about how a student stabbed another student with a pencil in her class. We needed the police to respond, but it took an hour. We needed to hear Devin Fletcher talk about something practical that could be done. He said, ‘What I think I hear you saying…’ and went into a lot of meaningless flowery words.”

“Thinking is not required in the current culture at TPS, and it’s certainly not encouraged.  That’s why there have been so many departures.  There are few left in leadership who have any longevity or experience, and most of their hiring decisions are nonsensical ‘stunt-casting.’  To Gist, it’s all about creating ‘change through disruption.’  Anyone who has been at TPS for any length of time has exited the building.  Of course, the presumption when Gist returned to Tulsa was that everything was broken, and that everything had to be changed.  (In spite of the fact that her predecessor, Keith Ballard, had done an amazing job restructuring and getting good people in place).  Dr. Gist has totally undone all of that hard work.

It is no surprise that teacher vacancies are through the roof at TPS.  They have threatened teachers and principals within an inch of their lives if they try to suspend students.  While they will tell you it’s all in the best interest of kids, the reality is that it is all about improving Dr. Gist’s statistics.  (Look at the Data Department she created and the number of people hired to crunch numbers.)”

Categories: Education: Elementary