Teacher Prevention Resources

for NIDA-funded Evaluation Study

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Tips for Teachers

We will be sending regular emails as part of the technical assistance package that we are providing to you and your school for the implementation of LST. These emails will correspond roughly to your implementation schedule.

We have posted the tips here for your convenience.

Remember, you're not alone. Teachers implementing a new program may need help from time to time. Please feel free to contact Cornell project staff if you have any questions or need any help. We’ve provided several ways for you to contact us to receive technical assistance and support as you implement the LST program including telephone, email, or our web site. We’re here to help. Please feel free to contact us if you anticipate any difficulties.


Call us at: (646) 962-8056

Email us at: STEPS@med.cornell.edu

  1. Congratulations!

  2. Self Image & Self Improvement

  3. Making Decision

  4. Smoking Myths & Realities

  5. Smoking & Biofeedback

  6. Alcohol Myths and Realities

  7. Marijuana Myths and Realities

  8. Advertising

  9. Violence and the Media

  10. Coping with Anxiety

  11. Coping with Anger

  12. Communication Skills

  13. Social Skills (A)

  14. Social Skills (B)

  15. Assertiveness

  16. Resolving Conflicts

Tips for Teachers 1: Congratulations

Congratulations! You have chosen one of the most effective drug abuse prevention programs available. The LST program has been extensively tested and proven to prevent adolescents from smoking, drinking, and using marijuana and other illicit drugs.

1. The importance of proper implementation.

To work, the LST program must be properly taught. Research shows that the closer you adhere to the teacher's manual and student guide, the more effective you will be. Classes should be taught in sequence and as completely as possible.

2. Use interactive teaching methods.

How you teach LST is also important. Some material involves stimulating class discussion using facilitation. Other material requires teaching LST skills and providing students with the opportunity to practice those skills.

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Tips for Teachers 2: Self Image and Self Improvement

The main purpose of this session is to help students understand “self image” and how it is formed, to provide them with an opportunity to assess their strengths and identify areas for improvement, and to provide them with the tools to improve their self images by improving themselves. A key feature of this session is that it not only shows students a general approach to self improvement, but also is the start of a self-improvement project for each student. Whether students select a health-related, academic, or social goal, success in achieving their goals can provide students with a profound sense of accomplishment, confidence, and greater self esteem.

1. Start small and be realistic

The focus of the self-improvement project should be something that is personally meaningful to each student. The keys to success with the self-improvement project are to start small, pick a realistic goal, and set a series of intermediate goals that lead to gradual change over time.

2. Teaching methods

The session on Self Image and Self Improvement involves the facilitation of student discussion and coaching to help them select an appropriate goal for their self-improvement project.

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LST Tips for Teachers 3: Making Decision

The central focus of this session is to (1) help students become aware of the factors that affect their decisions and to (2) teach an approach for making independent decisions.

1. Allocation of time

Class discussion is a useful vehicle for helping students better understand the decisions they make and the factors that influence those decisions. However, don’t get bogged down with too much discussion.

2. Leave plenty of time for practice

After discussing the factors affecting the decisions we make, spend most of the class teaching students the “three C” decision-making approach. Describe the approach and then leave plenty of time for students to practice.

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LST Tips for Teachers 4: Smoking Myths and Realities

This session is intended to debunk a number of myths about cigarette smoking and highlight the factors that influence adolescents to smoke cigarettes. The purpose of session is to provide students with reasons for not smoking.

1. The power of social influence

Research shows that many factors affect the decision to smoke. However, social factors are by far the strongest source of influence. Recognizing the critical role played by social factors (peers, family, and the media) provides an important foundation for the skills for resisting social influences to smoke that are taught later in the program.

2. Facilitate discussion

The primary teaching method for this session is facilitating student discussion. Avoid lecturing or “preaching” to students about the dangers of smoking.

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LST Tips for Teachers 5: Smoking and Biofeedback

Most people are well aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately, knowledge about the health hazards of smoking does not deter people from smoking. For adolescents, facts or health information about the long-term health consequences of cigarette smoking are too abstract, not personally meaningful, and too far in the future.

1. Overcoming “here and now” thinking

Psychologists have determined that adolescents live in the “here and now” and have a present time orientation. This makes it difficult for them to think about things in the distant future. But, showing students that smoking cigarettes can have an impact on them in the present can be both dramatic and meaningful, and can serve as a more powerful motivation for not smoking than concerns for lung cancer, heart disease, and other health problems that may take 20 years or more to fully develop. This session is designed to overcome “here and now” thinking and demonstrate the immediate effects of smoking.

2. Demonstration and discussion

The video material included with the LST program demonstrates several biofeedback devices and how smoking affects you in a rather immediate way. For example, it increases heart rate, decreases hand steadiness, and affects skin temperature.

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LST Tips for Teachers 6: Alcohol Myths and Realities

This session is designed to provide general information about alcohol including its role as a drug, patterns of drinking, and reasons why people drink. As with the session on smoking, it is also intended to debunk common myths about drinking promoted in the media and by advertisers. It cannot make you smart, cute, sexy, powerful, more sophisticated, etc. As with other drugs, use of alcohol over time can lead to tolerance and dependency.

1. Decrease motivations to drink alcoholic beverages

The overall purpose of this session is to give students a more realistic understanding of alcohol (what it can and cannot do), to decrease motivations to drink, and to decrease susceptibility to social influences to drink (from advertisers, the media, or friends).

2. Provide a foundation for learning and using social resistance skills

This session provides the foundation for learning and using skills to resist social influences to drink.

3. Facilitate discussion

Don’t over-emphasize factual information about alcohol. Resist the temptation to lecture or “preach” to students about the dangers of drinking. Stimulate discussion and guide students to the key points and objectives of the session.

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LST Tips for Teachers 7: Marijuana Myths and Realities

As with the preceding sessions on tobacco and alcohol, the overall purpose of this session is to give students a more realistic understanding of marijuana (what it can and cannot do), decrease motivations to use marijuana and other drugs, and decrease susceptibility to social influences to use marijuana or other illicit drugs.

1. Provide a foundation for learning and using social resistance skills

This session provides the foundation for learning and using skills to resist social influences to use marijuana and other illicit drugs.

2. Facilitate discussion

Once again, don’t over-emphasize factual information. Resist the temptation to lecture or “preach” to students. Stimulate discussion and guide students to the key points and objectives of the session.

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LST Tips for Teachers 8: Advertising

Adolescents often have a naïve understanding of advertising and its purpose. This session provides a degree of general consumer education for students. Advertising is also a major social influence that can not only shape consumer behavior, but can shape attitudes and motivations to smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, and use drugs.

1. Teach your students to be better informed as consumers

Too many adolescents don’t realize that the purpose of advertising is to sell products, that advertisers often exaggerate the claims they make about their products, and that some advertising may be deliberately deceptive. Teach your students the techniques used by advertisers to get them to buy their products. Also, teach skills for critically evaluating ads.

2. Critically evaluate tobacco and alcohol ads

Use current tobacco and alcohol ads to teach students the advertising techniques that are being used to influence them to buy and use these products. The emphasis of this session should be on teaching students to critically evaluate tobacco and alcohol ads in order to decrease the potential of these ads for influencing students to smoke or drink.

3. Use a combination of teaching methods

This session requires the use of a combination of teaching methods—facilitation skills for promoting discussion, instruction and demonstration to teach students how to critically evaluate advertising, and class practice to enable students to use these skills.

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LST Tips for Teachers 9: Violence and the Media

This session is an extension of the session on advertising. It is intended to make students aware of how the media influences behavior in general and how it influences behavior specifically with respect to aggression and violence.

1. Identifying how the media distorts ideas and attitudes about violence

The media may be used in a deliberate attempt to shape our ideas and attitudes in a particular direction. However, public views about a particular subject (such as violence) may be distorted simply by focusing on it. Focusing on statistically rare events (such as homicides) can make them seem more prevalent than they really are. Many TV shows and movies contain violence because violence sells. Violence is often glamorized. And, because the media contains so much violence, it often conveys the message that violence is normal and natural.

2. Facilitating class discussion and coaching

Use facilitation teaching methods to stimulate class discussion. Coaching methods can be used to teach critical thinking and analysis of violence in the media.

3. Leave sufficient time for practice

Make sure you allow enough time during class for students to practice critical thinking and analysis skills related to the media and violence.

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LST Tips for Teachers 10: Coping with Anxiety

This session is designed to help students understand what anxiety is and teach them some proven techniques for dealing with it.

1. Guide students to an understanding of anxiety

Class discussion of the topics covered in this session and the class experiment are designed to enable students to identify the signs and symptoms of anxiety, identify common situations that produce anxiety, and recognize that most people feel anxious (nervous) in some situations.

2. Allow sufficient time for practice

Most of the class period should be spent teaching skills for coping with anxiety and providing students with an opportunity to practice these skills.

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LST Tips for Teachers 11: Coping with Anger

This session is an extension of the previous session on Coping with Anxiety. It is intended to help students understand the emotion of anger. But, the primary focus is on learning adaptive and appropriate ways of dealing with anger.

1. Differentiate between the feeling (emotion) of anger and losing control

Through class discussion help your students learn that anger is a normal human emotion and that certain common situations may trigger feelings of anger. Help your students to also recognize the reasons for keeping anger under control.

2. Focus on techniques for controlling anger

As with the other sessions involving skills training, it’s important to set aside enough class time for teaching techniques for dealing with anger.

3. Allow sufficient time for practice in and out of class

Make sure that you allow enough time for students to practice the skills for dealing with anger. One way to do this is to encourage students to practice these skills outside of class through what we call “behavioral homework” assignments.


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LST Tips for Teachers 12: Communication Skills

This session is designed to help students learn how to communicate effectively.

1. Teach the essentials of communication

Use facilitation and class discussion to teach the essentials of communications--understanding how communication occurs, the channels of communication, the importance of consistency in both channels of communication, how misunderstandings arise, and how to avoid misunderstandings.

2. Teach effective communication skills

Through coaching and skills training, teach students how to communicate effectively. Explain and demonstrate how to communicate effectively by being specific, asking questions, and through the use of paraphrasing (repeating back) a message or communication.

3. Remember to allow time for practice

Spending too much time on class discussion during the beginning of the session will mean that you will not have adequate time for students to practice effective communication skills.

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LST Tips for Teachers 13: Social Skills (A)

The acquisition of social skills is an important part of social development. Adolescence is a time during which individuals become increasingly involved in social situations, particularly within their peer group. This session and the one that follows are designed to facilitate the development of a set of general social skills that adolescents need to function effectively as adolescents and later as adults.

1. Teach your students how to overcome shyness

Many people are shy to some extent in social situations. Left unchecked, shyness can become a major barrier to a satisfying social life. Helping your students realize that most people feel shy as well as teaching them specific techniques for overcoming shyness are major goals of this session.

2. Place the emphasis on skills training

Use facilitation to stimulate class discussion about shyness. But, don’t spend too much time on discussion. Instead, use the class discussion of shyness to serve as the foundation for the skills training exercises that follow.

3. Use behavioral homework assignments to promote practice

Skills practice during class helps students learn new skills in the relative safety of the classroom. However, behavioral homework assignments are an important vehicle for not only providing opportunities for additional practice outside of class, but are necessary to promote the use of these new skills in students everyday life.

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LST Tips for Teachers 14: Social Skills (B)

This session expands on the material in the previous session and focuses on making friends and developing healthy social relationships. An important set of skills concerns identifying appropriate social activities, inviting others to participate in those activities with you, and asking someone out on a date.

1. Explore the nature of attraction

Use group facilitation skills to stimulate class discussion regarding the nature of attraction, including both physical and non-physical factors. Use group discussion to also identify appropriate (and fun) social activities.

2. Use skills training teaching methods

Once again, the core of this session involves skills training. Explain and demonstrate approaches for asking someone to go with you to social activities, including asking someone out on a date. Remember, to allow sufficient time for students to practice.

3. Use scripts and verbal prompts to guide skills practice

Some students will have difficulty knowing what to say. Show students how to develop “scripts” of what to say when inviting someone to a social activity. During practice, it is often helpful to guide students through the practice of these skills by providing them with verbal prompts—that is, prompting them during the behavioral rehearsal by providing them with things to say that the student can then repeat during the practice scenarios.

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LST Tips for Teachers 15: Assertiveness

The purpose of this session is to teach students (1) the difference between assertive and aggressive behavior, (2) to identify situations warranting an assertive response, and (3) the appropriate use of verbal and non-verbal assertive skills.

1. Augment the assertive situations provided in the LST program with situations identified by your students

It is helpful to elicit from your students a list of situations warranting an assertive response. This has the benefit of not only expanding on the list of assertive situations provided in the LST teacher’s manual and student guides. It is also a good mechanism for engaging your students and ensuring that they will use these assertive skills in their everyday lives.

2. Develop a set of verbal assertive responses

Students may avoid responding assertively because they don’t know what to say. Therefore, it is helpful to develop a repertoire of assertive responses that they are prepared to use when the situation warrants. Draw these assertive statements from your students, write them on the board, and have the students write them down.

3. Allow sufficient time for practice

Set aside at least 20 minutes for practice of verbal and non-verbal assertive responses. During in-class practice sessions, provide students with verbal prompts when necessary (i.e., provide them with assertive statements if they don’t know what to say) and give them suggestions concerning how to improve their assertive response. Pay special attention to the non-verbal dimension of assertive responses (such as, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body posture).

4. Encourage out-of-class practice

Use behavioral "homework" assignments to provide further opportunities for students to practice, develop, and apply assertive skills to their everyday lives.


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LST Tips for Teachers: Resolving Conflicts

This session is designed to teach students conflict resolution skills. Negotiation is taught as a key strategy for resolving conflicts by converting a situation from a "face-to-face" conflict to a "side-by-side" problem-solving situation.

1. Focus on moving from conflict to cooperation

Teach students how to shift from a situation involving conflict to one of cooperation through the use of negotiation. Emphasis the concept of "win-win" situations.

2. Teach students how other skills taught in the LST program relate to conflict resolution

A number of the skills taught previously in the LST program are useful in dealing with situations involving conflict or potential conflict. These include anger management skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, and assertive skills.

3. Allow sufficient time for practice

Make sure that you allow at least half of the class time for students to practice conflict resolution skills as well as the application of other life skills to situation with the potential for erupting in conflict. This includes in-class practice as well as behavioral "homework" assignments. And, of course, be sure to encourage students to use these skills to resolve conflict in their everyday life.

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