most important factor in improved student learning is an effective
teacher. Written ten times a year, Harry and Rosemary Wong's
columns feature effective teachers and administrators and their techniques
for enhancing student learning. An archive of past articles
can be found at the end of every column.
and Rosemary Wong are happy to share with the profession the strategies
and techniques of effective teachers. If you have an effective
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
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.
You can hear Harry Wong LIVE on a set of CDs,, 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
Tools for Success on the First Days of School
you to plan so you can plan to teach.
We love to play Mexican Train®.
For those who are not familiar with this game, it’s a dominos
type game where there are three or more games going on simultaneously—at
the same time! There’s your game, your opponents’
games, and a side game called the Mexican Train.
The game requires strategy, intelligence, and skill. It
can get intense, but when it’s over there is usually a smile
and the winner can even say, “That was fun.”
Fun is the result of a well-played game.
Ask anyone who has done a report or paper. The process
requires diligence, hard work, and perseverance. But if
the result is a good grade or commendation, then the writer can
sit back and smile at the accomplishment and then correctly say,
“That was fun.” But it was no fun doing the
process. It was hard work.
It is so common for new teachers to come into the profession
with the mantra of “school should be fun.”
Where they acquire this buzz is unknown as the schools of education
surely don’t teach that. They teach classroom management,
instructional delivery, assessment for learning, student engagement,
parental relationships, educational psychology, differentiated
instruction, problem solving, positive expectations, inclusive
classrooms, and a host of other skills that are required of an
Schools are institutions of instruction and learning.
The purpose of school is for students to acquire knowledge, learn
skills, and develop habits and principles that will make them
productive citizens and help them grow to their fullest potential
as human beings. (The First Days of School,
We love fun, but fun is not the purpose of a lesson.
Fun is the satisfaction that results when a lesson is completed
with accomplishment and achievement. So, when we
play Mexican Train, we play to win. Fun comes over our faces
after accomplishing a well-played game.
Students can achieve this same kind of satisfaction with their
lessons. When you design a lesson for student learning,
you design it backwards. Backward design contends that instead
of planning a lesson around a fun or bunch of favorite activities,
a more effective lesson should start with the end results you
want to achieve. Then, plan backwards to what you can do
to bring student accomplishment of that goal. Accomplishment
of the goal will bring joy to the students and will make them
eager to want to achieve more.
Effective Classrooms Are Consistent
For a student to demonstrate accomplishment and achievement
in school, there must be a plan that organizes the classroom for
student learning and success.
The most important factor to establish the first week of school
is consistency. A consistent classroom has no surprises.
Everyone knows how the classroom is organized and structured for
learning. Effective teachers have a classroom that is structured,
organized, and CONSISTENT in how the classroom
As with any game, the more you play it, the better you become
familiar with the rules and strategies that operate that game.
There is consistency to the rules, you know what happens.
Even when you land on “Go to Jail,” you sigh and move
your marker there—without begging for second chances or
blaming it on someone else. You accept the structure of
the game and know it’s there to ensure that you have a great
time while you’re playing.
Here are some of the items you’ll want to make sure you
use consistently in your classroom to better the chances of your
students winning each and every day.
BEGINNING NEEDS OF STUDENTS. Students
want to know seven things on the first day of school: 1)
Am I in the right room? 2) Where am I supposed to sit?
3) What are the rules in this classroom? 4) What
will we be doing this year? 5) How will I be graded? 6)
Who are you as a person? 7) Will I be treated as a human
being? Have answers to these questions ready and use them
as part of your welcome to the students on the first day of
school. Help can be found in our August 2000 column, “There
Is Only One First Day of School,” and in The
First Days of School, page 105.
CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT PLAN. Sarah Jondahl
began as a first-year teacher six years ago, with a binder complete
with a classroom management plan. She had a plan for how
she wanted to operate her classroom. She knew the procedures
she wanted her students to follow. With procedures in
place, she says, “The educational experience in my classroom
is extremely effective.” Use Sarah’s plan
to help you plan for your student’s success. The
plan can be seen in our September 2005 column, “A
Successful First Day Is No Secret,” and at www.ClassroomManagement.com.
SCRIPT. Diana Greenhouse, third-grade
teacher near Fort Worth, Texas, starts her school year with
a PowerPoint script of her classroom management plan.
It’s ready to show to students who miss the opening of
school and is a terrific Show and Tell for Back to School night.
Diana says, “When I look back at all I’ve accomplished
in one school year, it takes my breath away. My students
learned. I loved every minute of teaching, and it all
started with that very first minute of the first day of school.”
Her PowerPoint can be seen in our October 2005 column,
Management Is Not Discipline,” and for more information
read The First Days of School, page
BELLWORK. Chelonnda Seroyer, English
teacher in Alabama, says that she spent two months preparing
for one day, the first day of school. On her first day
as a first-year teacher, her students entered her classroom
and began to work immediately, and every day thereafter.
She has an assignment posted and it is posted in the same location
every day. There is a consistent procedure in her classroom
and the students know that when the bell rings, they are to
get to work immediately. Chelonnda’s plan can be
seen in our February 2005 column, “The
Power of Procedures,” and for more information read
The First Days of School, page 124.
ATTENTION PROCEDURE. Barbara DeSantis
can bring her class to attention in five seconds by calmly saying,
“Give me five, please.” This is because she
knows the steps to teach a procedure, which are 1) Clearly
state and demonstrate a procedure; 2) Rehearse the procedure;
and 3) Assess the rehearsal and reinforce the procedure.
All procedures must be rehearsed, until the procedure becomes
a routine. Her plan can be seen in our August 2006 column,
Teachers are Proactive,” and for more information
read The First Days of School, page
HAND SIGNALS. While students are working,
you can reduce the noise level in the classroom by using a set
of hand signals. For instance, one finger could indicate
a desire to speak, two fingers a desire to leave the seat, and
three fingers to request help from the teacher. You respond
by shaking your head or waving a hand that responds, “Yes,”
“No,” or “Wait.” This technique
can be seen in The First Days of School,
DISTRIBUTION OF MATERIALS. We know
that students learn best with hands-on activities. Do
not place materials on a central table and have continuous student
movement in the classroom. Rather, place all materials
needed for the activity in a container and post an inventory
of the contents of the container in the classroom. Assign
a student to carry the container to the group for the activity
and return it after checking the inventory list that is posted.
This technique can be seen in our September 2002 column, “Dispensing
Materials in Five Seconds.”
SCHOOL-WIDE PROCEDURES. The most effective
schools have procedures that are used consistently by all teachers.
These are ready and posted on the first day of school.
Students can move from teacher to teacher knowing what to do.
For instance, they know that all classrooms have an assignment,
so they enter all classrooms knowing what to do and start their
assignment. Work with your colleagues to get some general
procedures established at your grade level teaching team or
your school. A school with such a plan can be seen in
our January 2002 column, “A
Most Effective School.”
TEACH TO AN OBJECTIVE. The effective
teacher tells the class the objective of the lesson. You
determine what you want your students to learn, perhaps based
on state or district standards, and then you backward design
a lesson to begin with an objective or objectives. Objectives
are student learning targets. When the students know what
they are aiming for, they know what they are responsible for
Julie Johnson of Minnesota structures her lessons as follows:
1) She determines what she wants her students to learn;
2) She shows them what they are to learn; 3) They practice
what they are to learn; and 4) They are tested on what
they are to learn. She says, “There is no secret
as to what is expected of them. When I do this they
all succeed.” If students know what they are to
learn, you greatly increase the chances that the students
will learn. Julie’s technique can be seen in our
April 2006 column, “They’re
Eager to Do the Assignment” and in The
First Days of School, page 241.
ASSESS FOR LEARNING. The purpose of
a test is not to grade the student. The results of a test
are to be used to assess for learning. When a doctor gives
a patient a test, such as a blood test, the results are not
used to grade the patient. The results are used by the
doctor to assess the patient’s health and to determine
if any medication or treatment is needed to improve the patient’s
health. Likewise, an effective teacher uses the results
of a test to determine what instruction is needed to improve
the learning of a student. Several columns were written
in 2006 and 2007 on this subject. One is October 2006,
Student Progress with a Rubric.”
How well you begin school with an organized, consistent, and
well managed classroom will determine your success and your students’
success for the rest of the school year.
With procedures firmly in place, you will
to devote yourself to the art and craft of teaching and
become the effective teacher your students need and deserve.
Success Begins with You
You are the determiner of success in your classroom.
Not only by what you do, as in the “Ten Timely Tools,”
but more importantly in your attitude and belief in children and
your ability to make a difference in their lives.
Believe that every child who enters your classroom this year
wants to grow and learn and be successful and has the capacity
to do so.
Believe in yourself that you have the skills needed to reach
children and move them to new heights.
Believe that every day is a new day with the opportunity to
Believe that you are part of a greater community of educators
who are proud of their profession and dedicated to their calling.
Believe that the smile of welcome you radiate to your students
everyday will warm the hearts of more bodies that you will ever
Believe in partnerships with colleagues, administrators, and
parents that will nurture children.
Believe that you are both a teacher and a learner and grow
yourself professionally each year.
Believe that hard work is required of success.
Believe that education is the bedrock for humanity.
Believe that we are here to help you and your students achieve
The result of writing this month’s column has been
a fun experience for us. It has required us to
think back to our classrooms and recall what was helpful at the
start of school. It has required us to review past teachers.net
articles and share with you some outstanding colleagues.
It has required us to think about our perception of education
and what it means to us. The pleasure and enjoyment of this
process is what has created the smiles, the chuckles, and the
energy to keep writing and sharing.
Make your school year one of pleasure and enjoyment packed with
learning for you and your students.
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