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January 2005
Vol 2 No 1
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About Harry and Rosemary Wong...
Harry 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.

Harry 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. Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.

Harry 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 student success.

More than a half-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.

The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 2.4 million copies have been sold.

A third edition of The First Days of School has been released and 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 they become.

The Wongs have also produced the video 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, How To Improve Student Achievement, featuring Harry Wong as he speaks 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, and CD 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 at www.EffectiveTeaching.com or www.harrywong.com. Best Sellers

The First Days of School
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New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 DVDs, Facilitator's Handbook in PDF, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $695.00 from HarryWong.com (volume discounts available)
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Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs
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Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

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Improving Schools from Within : Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference
by Roland Sawyer Barth

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A First-Year Teacher's Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
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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

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The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
by Parker J. Palmer

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If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students : Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers
by Neila A. Connors

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Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

January 2005

The First Ten Days of School


You’re almost to the hump of the school year and you still have discipline problems in your classroom.  Over 80 percent of what teachers consider to be discipline problems have nothing to do with discipline.

The number one problem in the classroom is not discipline;
it is the lack of procedures and routines.

A vast majority of the behavior problems in the classroom are caused by the failure of students to follow procedures and routines.  The behavior problems result from the lack of procedures that govern how the classroom is organized for work.  So, instead of working, the students do things they should not be doing, but it’s not their fault. There are no procedures outlining how things are to be done in the classroom.

To eliminate or reduce the number of discipline problems,
it is necessary to have
an organized classroom management plan.

Two of the chatboards on teachers.net are “classroom discipline” and “classroom management.” Many of the items posted under classroom management have nothing to do with management; they are about discipline problems.

To review the difference between discipline and classroom management, please read Chapters 11 and 20 in The First Days of School and “The Problem Is Not Discipline.”  (http://teachers.net/wong/SEP00)

Of course, behavior problems do occur no matter how organized you have your classroom.  It’s a fact of life.  However, your effectiveness as a teacher will be based on how well you manage a classroom with procedures and routines, not on how well you discipline your class.

Nonetheless, you will still need a discipline plan as part of your greater classroom management plan.  Considering the great diversity of students, with differing skills, languages, cultures, and needs, and the different personalities of teachers, your choice of a plan will be a personal one.

Discipline plans fall along a continuum.  You may feel comfortable with a plan where the teacher is strongly in charge or one where the student is in charge.  To see this continuum, refer to page 142 in The First Days of School.

The Self-Manager Discipline Plan

It may suit your style to use a discipline plan where there is a mutual sharing of responsibility for the classroom.

Jane Slovenske, who teaches fifth grade in Arizona, uses a “self-manager plan” in which students are taught to be responsible for managing their own behavior.

The class discusses a list of appropriate behaviors and standards that relate to responsible behavior, appropriate treatment of others, and prompt work completion to the best of their ability.  Once the list of behaviors is agreed upon, the students are presented with a “self-manager application” to use as a self-evaluation of their behaviors and standards.

When students are able to manage all of the items on the application, they fill in the form and take it home for parental review.  When parents are in agreement with their child’s self-evaluation, it is to be signed and returned to school.

Jane must then agree with the student’s self-evaluation.  They discuss any differences of opinion and come to an agreement.  Jane Slovenske says that this rarely happens, as most students, with input from their parents, are honest about self-evaluating their performance.

Students rated as “almost always” in each category become Self-Managers and qualify to wear a badge that says, “I’m a SELF-MANAGER.” A picture of such a student can be seen on page 167 in The First Days of School, (3rd ed.).

Staff and students recognize and acknowledge Self-Managers by the badges they wear.

More information on the Self-Manager Discipline Plan can be found on page 163 in The First Days of School, (3rd ed.).

To Manage Is to Organize

Jane Slovenske’s success as a teacher—she is a National Board certified teacher—goes way beyond her discipline plan.  Her success can be traced to how she manages her classroom right from the first day of school.

There is nothing that will take kids into orbit faster than to suspect that a teacher is disorganized.  Classrooms are disorganized, because some teachers do not have a classroom management plan.  The result is a chaotic classroom.

When there is no organization, a teacher will resort to disciplining students to maintain control of the students, which is why so many teachers write on the chatboard, wanting to know “what to do with some kid.”  You don’t do things to people; you teach people to be responsible.

Structuring a Well-Managed Classroom

A well-managed classroom has a set of procedures and routines
that structure the classroom for learning.

Procedures and routines are used to organize the classroom so that the myriad of activities that take place in a classroom function smoothly and stress-free.  Procedures allow a wide variety of activities to take place during the school day, often simultaneously, with a minimum of confusion and wasted time.  If there are no procedures, much time is wasted organizing and explaining each activity, even for recurring activities.  The lack of procedures also leads to students’ acquiring undesirable work habits and behaviors that are subsequently hard to correct.

Students readily accept the idea of having a uniform set of classroom procedures because it simplifies their task of succeeding in school.

It’s All in How You Begin

Jane Slovenske’s success with her students begins on the very first day of school.  She spends the first ten days of school teaching and reinforcing those behaviors and standards her students will need to succeed in her classroom.  In addition to the academic instruction, these are the procedures Jane Slovenske teaches on the first ten days of school:

Day 1

TEACH:

Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Arrangement of everything in student’s desk.
Classroom number for each student to identify personal cubby.
Organizing binders using dividers.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Procedures for attendance and lunch count.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Where to sit at lunch and five people to each side of table.
Handshake or enthusiastic high five with eye contact to greet teacher each morning before entering the classroom.
Procedures for handing in work.
Procedures for handing out papers.
Procedures for using supplies in team crates.
Procedures for asking a question.
Fire drill procedures.
Lining up for specials and dismissal.
Signal for quiet and focus on teacher.
Procedures for water bottles and healthy snacks.
School rules.

Day 2

TEACH:

Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Procedures for using classroom computers.

REINFORCE:

Handshake or enthusiastic high five with eye contact to greet teacher each morning before entering the classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Arrangement of everything in student’s desk.
Classroom number for each student to identify personal cubby and include on all papers handed in.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Procedures for attendance and lunch count.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Procedures for handing in work.
Procedures for handing out papers.
Procedures for using supplies in team crates.
Lining up for specials and dismissal.
Signal for quiet and focus on teacher.

Day 3

TEACH:

Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Emergency procedures if teacher is hurt or ill.
How to complete classroom jobs.
Self-manager rubric.

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Procedures for attendance and lunch count procedures.
Procedures for using classroom computers.
School rules.

Day 4

TEACH:

Computer lab procedures.

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Procedures for attendance and lunch count procedures.
Procedures for using classroom computers.
School rules.
Fire drill procedures.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Emergency procedures if teacher is hurt or ill.
How to complete classroom jobs.

Day 5

TEACH:

Procedures in completing classroom jobs according to job descriptions worksheet.
Procedures for using math Versatiles.
Procedures when assigned work is completed.

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Self-manager rubric.

Day 6

TEACH:

Procedures for checking spelling words.
Procedures for lockdown drill.

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Self-manager rubric.
Procedures in completing classroom jobs according to job descriptions worksheet.
Procedures for using math Versatiles.
Procedures when assigned work is completed.

Day 7

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Self-manager rubric.
Procedures in completing classroom jobs according to job descriptions worksheet.
Procedures for checking spelling words.
Procedures for handing out papers.
Using supplies from team crates.
Emergency procedures if teacher is hurt or ill.

Day 8

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Five people to each side of lunch table.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Procedures in completing classroom jobs according to job descriptions worksheet.
Procedures for checking spelling words.
Procedures for lockdown drill.
Computer lab procedures.

Day 9

TEACH:

Procedures for participating in a class meeting including giving compliments and taking turns speaking without raising your hand.

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Procedures in completing classroom jobs according to job descriptions worksheet.

Day 10

REINFORCE:

Enthusiasm, eye contact when greeting teacher as entering classroom.
Removing from backpacks everything needed for the day.
Checking projection system for morning procedures.
Heading on every paper handed in.
Using an agenda to record assignments.
Appropriate time to sharpen a pencil, get a drink, ask to use restroom, or go to cubby.
Lining up alphabetically if buying lunch.
Handing in assignments, as well as notes and forms for teacher.
Procedures in completing classroom jobs according to job descriptions worksheet.
Procedures for participating in a class meeting including giving compliments and taking turns speaking without raising your hand.

But, It’s January

So, why are we sharing Jane Slovenke’s first ten days of school with you now in January?  There are three reasons:

     1.  Notice Jane TAUGHT the procedures.  She did not tell the students.  She demonstrated, the students practiced, and the concepts were reviewed and REINFORCED.  Too often, teachers equate “telling” or “showing” with teaching.  Just as you teach the letters of the alphabet, how to hit a baseball, or solving binomial equations, procedures are taught—just like any curriculum.

     2.  After reading Jane’s list, you may recognize an area of your classroom management plan you’ve neglected.  Her listing is comprehensive; leaving little if anything to chance.  So should your plan be likewise.  Use Jane’s plan to fill in the gaps for your plan.

     3.  You may be facing a new semester or you could be on a year-around schedule.  This is a perfect time to start fresh or tweaking what you already have in place.

Jane’s classroom management plan incorporates her discipline plan.  Your plan for addressing disruptions in the classroom should be part of your comprehensive classroom management plan.

If you don’t have a system in place, use one of the plans detailed in Chapter 19 of The First Days of School.  Modify it to suit your style and classroom situation.  You must have a plan in place so that your students know what to expect if problems occur in the classroom.

The Beauty of Teaching

It doesn’t need to be January 1st to start anew.  Each day is a fresh, new day for you and your students.  If your classroom is not humming like a well oiled machine, look through Jane Slovenske’s list for insights into repairing the problem.  Ask a colleague for insights into your dilemma; ask your administrator for assistance.  Each day is filled with valuable moments for learning opportunities.  Don’t waste another day waiting for next year when tomorrow is all you need.

As you venture into 2005, may your learning opportunities be many and may the light of learning sparkle in the eyes of all of your students.


For a printable version of this article click here.

Harry & Rosemary Wong products: http://www.harrywong.com/product/
Email Harry Wong: harrywong@teachers.net


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