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Setting Limits People

Your All-In Team

The Setting Limits team is a dynamic and passionate group of educators, administrators, presenters, and teacher-coaches who love working with teachers and students to transform and uplift learning communities!  All have had their educational practices transformed through implementing Setting Limits!

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Dr. Robert J. MacKenzie, ED.D.

is an Educational Psychologist and Family Therapist who founded the Setting Limits Program. He is the international best-selling author of Setting Limits, Setting Limits in the Classroom, Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child, and Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Teen.

Read more about Rob's Setting Limits story below.

Lisa MacKenzie, M.Ed., 

has spent her entire 30+ years working with the most vulnerable students from Pre-K through High School and graduate students. She is the Co-Author of the best-selling book, Setting Limits in the Classroom.

 

Read more about Lisa's Setting Limits story below.

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Kim Harrison, MA, M.Ed.

is a certified Setting Limits facilitator. She has taught elementary and middle school levels and is a school counselor who specializes in social and emotional learning. Kim is also a program developer, curriculum

writer, and presenter for the Choose Love

Movement.

Dan Lewer 

is an award-winning teacher, author, curriculum developer, and teacher-coach. He specializes in active-learning and student engagement and coaches thousands of teachers with his daily social media content, online courses, and blog. 

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Dr. Robert MacKenzie &
the Origins of Setting Limits

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As a graduate student in Educational Psychology at the University of California at Davis, one of my professors asked me to assist him with a research study on teacher effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to examine teacher behaviors that contribute to time on task with students. Research shows that on-task time correlates more powerfully with achievement than any other variable.

My job in the study was to observe effective teachers in their classrooms and record the specific things they said and did that led to on-task time. This was an eye opener because most of these teachers did not have easy classrooms. They had students with ADD, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, limited English speakers and more than a few comedians and attention seekers.

The teachers in the study were hand-selected by their school principals as exemplary instructors, but they were frequently described in vague, nondescript terms  such as “He’s really in touch with his kids,” or “There’s something special happening in that classroom,” or “She’s like magic with her students.” 

The effective teachers I observed did not give in to misbehavior. They didn't lecture, cajole, bargain, or negotiate. They didn't use threats, intimidation, or long, drawn-out consequences. They didn't compromise their standards.

Instead, they maintained a respectful attitude, held their ground firmly, stated their rules and expectations clearly, and followed through with instructive consequences when students chose not to cooperate. These teachers were solidly in control of themselves and their classrooms. They made classroom management look easy.

 

What impressed me most was the fact that their guidance methods worked with the full range of students: Compliant students who cooperate for the asking, Aggressive Researcher students who require generous helpings of consequences, and fence sitters who can go either way, even students with special needs. It didn't matter. These teachers had the tools to get the job done. They were prepared to teach their rules the easy way or the hard way, whatever the situation required, and they got results. They got the most cooperation, the most respect, the most on-task time, and the best achievement from their students. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was getting a crash course in effective limit setting from some real pros.

A few years later, after the study had been published and was collecting dust on some library bookshelf, I had an opportunity to pilot a teacher workshop series on effective classroom management for a large Northern California school district. "Great!" I thought. "I'll use the outcome data from the UC Davis study. We know what works. If I can teach it, others can use it." I didn’t realize it at the time, but the findings from this study would shape the rest of my professional career. 

The pilot was a success. Teachers found the approach easy to learn and use, and they got results just like the teachers in the study. What began as a workshop thirty-five years ago, became a best-selling book, Setting Limits in the Classroom, that is now in its third edition (Penguin-Random House Publishers) and has been translated into many languages. Literally, the book and workshops have grown as the program has grown, and it continues to grow and adjust to changes in our culture. Setting Limits in the Classroom has stood the test of time because the basics don’t change. The insight and methods this program provides have helped tens of thousands of teachers regain control of their classrooms, enjoy more satisfying relationships with their students, and get greater achievement outcomes. Enjoy Setting Limits in the  Classroom.

Lisa MacKenzie's Story

Lisa's teaching career has been defined by a deep commitment to the most vulnerable students—those with learning disabilities, autism, and those carrying the burden of trauma and toxic stress.  Her educational qualifications are a testament to her dedication. Lisa is a certified Behavior Specialist, a Mindfulness instructor through Mindful Schools, and a Certified Trauma and Resiliency Practitioner for Education (CTRP-E). She holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education, Mild/Moderate and Multi-Subject credentials as well as a Single Subject Credential in Science and a Supplementary Autism Credential.

 

Beyond the classroom, Lisa is recognized as the co-author of the best-selling book, Setting Limits in the Classroom. This influential work is a cornerstone in university credential programs across the United States. She is also the co-developer and presenter for the Setting Limits Program, which provides professional development opportunities for teachers and parenting classes on an international scale that changes the lives of those participating.

Lisa’s passion lies in providing equitable access to learning for ALL students.  Her award-winning Social Emotional Learning/Trauma Sensitive Program recognized as a California Gold Ribbon School Model Program and Practices Award in 2016, reflects her dedication to serving students with complex, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. 

 Lisa's purpose is clear—to teach students and teachers how to be the best versions of themselves, find the goodness in life, and nurture resilience in the face of adversity.  She is the proud parent of two children, Anthony and Laura. In her free time, Lisa finds solace in the ocean, whether it's scuba diving, snorkeling, paddleboarding, surfing, or simply being near the water.

Lisa MacKenzie is not just an educator; she's a guiding light for those embarking on the path of teaching. With a remarkable 34-year career that spans nearly every grade from Pre-K through 12th, she has dedicated herself to shaping the minds of the future generation.  

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