most important factor in improved student learning is with an effective
teacher. Written ten times a year, Harry and Rosemary Wong feature
effective teachers and administrators and what they do to enhance
student learning. The columns provide specific strategies and
activities that you can download and use. An archive of past
articles can be found at the end of every column.
strategies and activities are all based on the teachings and works
of Harry and Rosemary Wong and they are happy to share with the profession
the work of effective teachers. If you have an effective strategy
or technique that works, please share this by sending it to [email protected].
The Wongs will consider it for sharing in future Effective Teaching
About Harry and Rosemary
and Rosemary Wong are teachers. Harry is a native of San Francisco
and taught middle school and high school science. Rosemary is
a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school
media coordinator and student activity director.
Wong has been awarded the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the
Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology
Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal. He was
recently selected as one of the most admired people in the world of
education by readers of Instructor magazine. Rosemary
was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been
awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.
Wong is the most sought after speaker in education today. He
has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense,
user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level
a million teachers worldwide have heard his message. Because
he is fully booked for two years, he has agreed to and has invited
his wife to join him in doing a monthly column for teachers.net so
that more people can hear their message.
About Their Work...
Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to bringing quality and dignity
to the materials they produce. For this, they have formed their own
publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO. They have
dedicated their lives to leaving a legacy in education and making
a difference in the lives of teachers and students.
Their latest contribution to helping teachers succeed is an eLearning
course, Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong.
The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience.
The outcome of the course is a 2 inch binder with a personalized Classroom
Management Action Plan.
This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan
used by all successful teachers. Details for the classroom management
course can be seen at www.ClassroomManagement.com.
The Wongs have written The First Days of School,
the best-selling book ever in education. Over 3 million copies
have been sold.
The third edition of The First Days of School
includes an added bonus, an Enhanced CD featuring Harry Wong. The
Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn, is dedicated
to those teachers who know that the more they learn, the more effective
The Wongs have also produced the DVD series, The Effective
Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational
video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award
in the International Film and Video Festival.
They have released a new set of CDs with Harry Wong LIVE,
called How to Improve Student Achievement,
recorded at one of his many presentations. He is the most sought
after speaker in education and his presentations are legendary.
When the book, video series, CD, and eLearning course are used together,
they form the most effective staff training tool for developing effective
teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know
how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are
encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction:
How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers. Information
about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website
The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never
Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$23.96 from Amazon.com
The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong
Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators,
Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education
by Peter M. Senge (Editor), Nelda H. Cambron McCabe, Timothy Lucas,
Art Kleiner, Janis Dutton, Bryan Smith
is about to finish her first year teaching fifth grade in New
Hampshire and by all accounts her year has been very successful.
The three most important words to a painter, pilot, or chef are
The three most important words to a teacher are
The reference for this concept can be found in Chapter 12 of
The First Days of School.
The effective teacher is ready on the first day of school. In
the real world, you would be fired if you were not ready. In
the competitive world economy, our students must be ready. We
can teach readiness by modeling readiness in our work, in our
class environment, and in ourselves. Teachers who are not
organized send a loud message that they are not ready to teach.
Beth spent the summer preparing and over-preparing for
her first day of school. She watched and re-watched
the DVD series, The Effective Teacher.
In conjunction with the eLearning course she used the book, The
First Days of School, because a teacher friend told
her it is a sort of “Bible” for teachers.
Upon completion of the classroom management eLearning course,
Beth said, “I was so inspired by what the course modeled
to me that I created a PowerPoint welcoming the children to school
and explaining our classroom procedures.”
To see Beth Sommers’s first day of school procedures, please
(Please note: 1) Browsers other than Internet Explorer may
not display the slides properly. 2) Hit the space bar to
advance slides during slide show).
Beth created a tri-fold welcome brochure and
sent it to her students’ homes prior to the beginning of
school. She developed this welcome letter to introduce herself
and her job share partner to their students and parents. The
brochure had these topics:
A message of welcome
Information explaining the teachers’ backgrounds and
expectations for the class
A list of needed materials/supplies
Topics of study/curriculum highlights to “whet their
appetites” for learning in the coming year
Class schedule and “specials” schedule
Homework policy and procedures
Class meeting information
An explanation of how/when teachers can communicate with parents
Teachers’ email addresses, phone numbers, contact information
To create parent involvement, Beth built a solid relationship
with her students and their parents even before she met them.
By doing so, Beth set the tone for the entire school year.
During the school year, Beth sent home a weekly newsletter
discussing the week’s activities. Each newsletter
also included three pictures. Parents and children were
eager to see whose pictures were in the newsletter. Constant
communication not only keeps the parents informed, but also keeps
the students accountable.
A Powerful Start
Beth started her school year with a PowerPoint presentation,
which she gave over three days. She began with a warm welcome
to her class by including each student’s picture and addressing
them individually during the presentation. This portion
of her PowerPoint presentation is not included for privacy reasons,
but it is mentioned and suggested as something you can consider
in your first day of school presentation.
Her presentation also included
curriculum highlights, to show the students what they can
look forward to,
introductions to the two teachers and other classroom helpers,
classroom procedures, routines, and expectations.
Beth’s class functions well because she uses a “No
Mystery Approach.” Beth’s presentation
revealed to her students exactly what she expected of them.
Students need to know the teacher is in charge and that the teacher
knows what he or she is doing. When structure is provided,
the environment becomes one that is focused on learning.
Everyone can enjoy and benefit from such an environment.
Beth admits that although the creation of the presentation was
labor intensive, the developmental process added to her confidence
“exponentially as each day passed.”
She states, “I feel so secure about what will happen at
the beginning of the year. That will be the driving force
behind a very effective classroom.
“The children loved the PowerPoint presentation
of classroom procedures and expectations.”
Beth shared a shorter version of the PowerPoint presentation
with the parents at Open House, and they burst into applause immediately
following the showing. “I was shocked!” she
Beth also created and played a DVD, put to music, with pictures
from the first six weeks of school. The DVD was a hit at
Open House, too.
Her Open House presentations served to involve the parents in
the daily activities of their children. By sharing her procedures
and routines, Beth allowed the parents to assist in carrying the
procedures into their homes.
In later communications to us Beth wrote, “I have a wonderful
group of fifth graders who have just responded so beautifully
to the structure and routines I learned from you both. My
class is so well-behaved on field trips and when I bring in guest
speakers. It’s really been a great year and I feel
very blessed and fortunate to have taken your eLearning course
on classroom management.”
Structure Generates Creativity
Beth is a perfect example of a teacher who learns something
and changes or adds to it to make it her own. As
we like to say, she saw something she liked, stole the idea, and
tailored or modified it to make it work for her.
We see no end to the creative measures Beth Sommers has taken
in her presentations and publications. It proves
true time and again: structure provides the means to creativity.
Most artists at work will tell you they need their materials
laid out in a certain way. They must have all their tools
to create work. A painter cannot paint if he does not have
his brushes, canvas, and paints before him. Likewise,
procedures and routines are the tools that allow the students
to work and the teachers to create success for the class.
Educators need to invest in their careers, just like any other
professional. A doctor who refuses to learn about new methods
of practice or new revelations in his or her field will become
obsolete. This is true for any profession. In order
to be truly effective and successful in what you do, you must
continue to learn.
Truly effective teachers never cease to learn.
We have commented time and again that there are teachers who
have a career as educators and others that just have a job.
Beth is obviously the former. She works to improve her skills
and acquire knowledge so that she is at the top of her game.
She would be successful in any career she chose if she applied
the same work ethic.
Beth’s principal made these comments in his evaluation
“Beth’s classroom management was excellent
and reflective of the good judgment and forethought she brings
to all endeavors. Beth’s pleasant and positive
demeanor coupled with her confidence and timely assertiveness
provided clear boundaries and expectations for her students
at all times. . . . Beth gives excellent instructions, requires
student attention, and checks comprehension regularly to ensure
that all students are on track.
“Beth has clearly established routines and daily expectations.
She utilizes a subtle ding type bell to gain student attention
and always has materials prepared in advance and readily at
hand. Beth moves instruction along at an excellent
pace that is commensurate with the student’s ability,
understanding, and classroom productivity.”
Each component of Beth’s success is a result of her time
to constantly educate herself,
to constantly improve her craft,
to give her students a place of order in their lives that
may not exist elsewhere, and
to give herself a calm and productive environment conducive
to student learning
To be an effective teacher means to have a classroom
management plan. Without procedures and routines
in place from the very first day of school, the students will
attempt to take over your classroom. Just as any professional
has a plan of action or proposal, so must a teacher have a plan
for their classroom.
Beth’s Year-End Evaluation
As Beth comes to the close of her first year as a teacher, she
shared with us her comments:
“My first year of teaching has been extraordinary!
I was blessed to have a classroom of children and parents who
embraced our core curriculum, the enrichment activities I planned,
and all of the new ideas and energy that a beginning teacher
“My students frequently exceeded my expectations on special
projects. I am so proud of them and all that we’ve
“The wheels of our success began turning the
minute our routines, procedures, and expectations were explained
and established during the PowerPoint presentations the first
weeks of school.”
Reflect on what Beth did as you spend a restful summer.
Jot down moments of “aha” inspiration as
you prepare your script or classroom management plan for the
next school year.
Doing What I Should Be Doing
Diana Greenhouse started her first year of teaching
in August 2005 and began her first day of school with a script,
or an organized classroom management plan. This plan can
be seen in our October 2005 column, “Classroom
Management Is Not Discipline.”
At the end of her first year of teaching, she wrote the following:
“It all started with that very first minute of the first
day. I started the school with a PowerPoint presentation
of my classroom management plan.
“And I just ended the first year of teaching. I
ended with another PowerPoint presentation, but this time the
students helped me construct the presentation. Every student
was asked to prepare one slide about himself or herself.”
Click here to see
“What an incredible first year of teaching this has been.
When I look back at all I accomplished, it takes my breath away.
My students learned and I loved every minute of teaching.
“Thank you for giving me a gift that can never be taken
Diana Greenhouse is about to come to the end of her second
year of teaching. She was recently offered, and
she accepted, the position of organizing and being the only
teacher in the school district’s new Gifted and Talented
She says, “I have model classrooms because of what the
Wongs have taught me.” Her classrooms are constantly
observed by principals, administrators, and people who are in
teacher preparation programs.
Diana says, “I don't think I'm that great. . .
. I just do what I should be doing.”
Shouldn’t You Be, Too
There is not a person who does not understand the concept of
what he or she should be doing. Should connotes a
responsibility to do things right. For instance, we may
say to a youngster, “Do you know what you should be doing?
Or, we say to ourselves, “I know I should be exercising.”
Just think what would happen to student achievement if
every teacher just did what he or she should be doing.
Diana Greenhouse believes she is just an ordinary teacher doing
what she should be doing. Yet, she is singled out for promotion.
Seroyer wins school awards because she is doing what she should
be doing. Heather
Chambers is alive today because she was doing what she should
For the past 7 years we’ve been sharing with you those
teachers who had the aha moment and tackled the “should”
of being a teacher. These teachers used our materials, tapped
their colleagues, and stole from other resources to construct
their success and do what they “should” be doing in
Steal from these teachers their classroom management plans.
Just do what you should be doing.
Ask any teacher in any of our past columns the reason
why they are successful teachers. They all will tell you,
“It’s because I do what I should be doing.”
Use the months ahead to plan and prepare for what you should
be doing in the next school year. Come August/September,
shed the SHOULDS and just DO IT and BE the successful teacher
you’ve always wanted to be.
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