by Harry and Rosemary Wong
The Effective Teacher Thinks
Kris Halverson is a teacher who lives in northern California. This year she has a change in assignments and writes, "I love being on a new learning curve."
Susie Drazen is associated with a Jewish school in Omaha and says, "My professors in graduate school suggested that we become eclectic teachers -- watching all, and only stealing from the best."
Whenever I (Rosemary) go to a meeting, no matter how seemingly boring or irrelevant the material is, I say to myself,
"Before the person is even finished explaining his or her technique, I've already figured out how to do it differently or better in my classroom."
The human mind is a magnificent personal computer. In fact, it is the original PC. The effective teacher is always thinking, dreaming, and planning. Your future happiness and career depends on your ability to implement techniques and your capacity to grow with new ideas.
We, also, unfortunately have the teachers who say, "But I can't use your techniques because I teach high school in a private school in Chile," or "My students are not reading up to grade level," or "The buses all arrive at different times, so I can't start the lessons on time."
The effective teacher thinks, reflects, and implements. The effective teacher models what is expected from the students -- the ability to think and solve problems on their own. Effective teachers use their cumulative knowledge to solve problems.
Classroom Management Applies to All
Last month, we featured the classroom management model used by a second grade teacher, Sarah Jones. She taught in a private school last year, but transferred to a public school this year. Her classroom management techniques have remained the same and have operated with the same effectiveness. To say that students in a private school are different is flawed. Two of our four grandchildren attend private schools and they are not different. Children do not like to be treated as if they are different.
Whether a teacher is in a public or private school, charter school, adult education classroom, teacher inservice workshop, or private industry seminar, the techniques remain the same. It makes no difference what the grade level is: kindergarten, fourth grade, high school, or a subject matter: music, foreign language, or physical education.
- Effective classrooms start on time.
- Students know the classroom procedures.
- Teachers understand how to teach for mastery.
- Teachers have high expectations for student success.
All effective classrooms are managed by effective teachers.
Classroom Management in a High School Physical Education Class
Steve Geiman is a high school physical education teacher in Virginia. He heard Harry speak at a conference and like Rosemary, his mind began to twirl. In his own words, he shares the following from his reflection and thinking on his effectiveness as a teacher.
For years, I have heard the complaints of Physical Education teachers. Their classes are not like others. They can't use all of the normal management ideas to teach, and they move all over the place, so their classes can't stay as organized as a regular classroom.
Physical education teachers can be just as effective in the gym as classroom teachers are in a classroom.
Good classroom management must be an integral part of a physical education program. Physical education is unique but basic management and good planning can create an awesome teaching opportunity!
Years ago I used Harry's ideas to change my health classroom teaching. I started with a few procedures and routines. I created a discipline plan and taught both the procedures and the discipline plan the first days of school. Each year I added new procedures and routines. I adjusted the discipline plan to suit changing needs. The transformation in my classroom was astounding! The class could literally run itself. (For additional examples of this, refer to The First Days of School, pages 11 and 192 and read about high school teachers Richard Crewse and Bob Wall.)
My classroom effectiveness was tremendous but I had not made that transition to the gymnasium. I was still teaching physical education the old way.
Physical Education presented a different set of challenges but I knew after looking at my needs in the gym, a good management plan would create an atmosphere just like the classroom.
I designed procedures and routines and a discipline plan that covered the physical education atmosphere.
In the classroom, students were responsible for coming in class and getting to work immediately. They were given a bell work assignment that was posted in the same place every day.
In the gym, I created the same idea with something called "instant activity." To do this, there needed to be a little more management in place. I bought white boards that were portable and placed them against the gym wall in the same place every day.
On the white board, I posted the "instant activity" assignment as well as the daily plan. When the students come to the gym, they check the white board for the assignment, get dressed, and come out and start the activity immediately. I provide a basket full of equipment and choices for activity.
Every day, in the past, I heard the questions, "Are we doing anything today?" or "What are we doing today?"
Now, everything is posted on the white board and the students know the daily plan from the very beginning of class. They also know that they are responsible for starting to work and that the teacher does not start class.
I meet the students at the gym doors every day for the first two weeks. I greet them and remind them to check the white board for the assignment, get dressed, and to start work immediately. After a week, the repetition takes effect and the procedure becomes an automatic routine.
The class is structured around routines and procedures. These are taught starting the very first day of school and practiced for the first two weeks. Each day I rehearse the procedures until they become automatic. The procedures and routines in the gym are based on my needs to facilitate effective teaching.
There are procedures for
- Moving from activity to activity
- Coming to attention
- Game set-up
- Selecting teams
- Game activity
A procedure is created for whatever needs to be done in the gym to move efficiently and maximize instructional time.
Students need to know up front what is expected. Posting the daily assignments and creating a management plan reduces students' anxiety. The teacher creates an atmosphere that is comfortable and inviting. The students know early on that the class is managed for their maximum learning success.
Before I made the changes in the gym, my classes were difficult. I was working myself to death reminding students every day of things I needed them to do. I did all of the work, setting up games, moving equipment, and handling paperwork. It was exhausting! I did not enjoy physical education, nor did the students.
Since I have implemented the new management plan and made some changes with all-inclusive games and music, participation levels are near 100%!
The students are now responsible for all paper work, equipment, and set-up -- leaders are assigned and activities are much more organized. Classes run themselves and I can teach much more effectively. Students can't wait to get to class!
Because of the success we are having in our health and physical education program, I now conduct seminars for other teachers on classroom effectiveness. I thank Harry Wong for all of the ideas and for helping me make a difference!
- Steve Geiman
Effective Teaching Is Rewarding
In his 33 years of teaching high school physical education, Steve Geiman has been selected as the high school Teacher of the Year at Wilson Memorial High School in Augusta County, Virginia and the Physical Education Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia.
Steve shares his expertise with other educators in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. He has done workshops for the Virginia Department of Education and taught student teachers at James Madison University and Radford University. His seminars focus on management, motivation, credibility, assessment, grading, effective teaching techniques, lesson planning, and effective teaching.
All his seminars feature extensive handouts, easy to implement ideas, and are broken up with new games and ideas for motivation.
Steve may be reached at 1645 Hermitage Road, Waynesboro, Virginia 22980. His telephone is 540-949-7047 or email him at stevegeiman at yahoo.com (replace "at" with "@").
Please Share With Us
If you are new to these monthly columns, clicking "Gazette Back Issues" at the bottom of the left sidebar will access past columns.
Our goal of writing The Effective Teacher column has been to share the work of effective teachers and schools. Effective teachers don't whine about why they can't do something. Effective teachers seek further information, reflect, process, and implement. We will illustrate this concept next month when we tell you about how a first year teacher manages her library and how an art teacher, who sees a particular class of students once a week, manages her classroom.
We are always most pleased to hear from anyone who would like to share with others and us on the Internet, how you manage your classroom. Please let us hear from you.
Thinking Is Hard Work
It's difficult not to think. The course of recent national events has caused us all to reflect on our lives, our priorities, our sense of purpose. We've had to make choices and in many cases -- life changing choices -- that better reflect our new understandings of ourselves and the world.
In the worst of times, ordinary people are at their extra-ordinary best.
The process of effective teaching is very much the same soul searching process. Inadequacies gnaw at our inner being; we contemplate the choices; we execute the plan - many times a comfort-changing plan in our professional understandings. But we do all of this to make a positive difference in the life of a child.
We know that, more than ever before, the world needs effective teachers modeling for children the ability to think, solve problems, and become responsible leaders and learners.
Thinking is hard work, but it holds so much promise for your children and the world. Just think about that. . . .
Past Gazette Articles by Harry & Rosemary Wong:
If you spot a link that appears to be out-of-date, please alert us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- A Grateful Goodbye After 15 Years (Jun 2015)
- Love, Marriage, and Babies, Oh My! (May 2015)
- Retention Rate Is 100 Percent (Apr 2015)
- Teacher Effectiveness and Human Capital (Mar 2015)
- Training Teachers to Be Effective (Feb 2015)
- Making Deals Is Ineffective (Dec 2014 / Jan 2015)
- Retrieving and Carrying Electronic Devices (Nov 2014)
- Sharing to Succeed (Oct 2014)
- How a University Prepares Its Students (Sep 2014)
- Effective Teaching (Aug 2014)
- Your Future Is in Your Hands (June/July 2014)
- The Classroom Management Book (May 2014)
- When Students Succeed; Teachers Succeed (April 2014)
- Teaching New Teachers How to Succeed (March 2014)
- Execute and Praise (February 2014)
- Shaping a Solid Foundation (Dec 2013 / Jan 2014)
- The Most Misunderstood Word (November 2013)
- How to Start Class Every Day (October 2013)
- Prevention: The Key to Solving Discipline Problems (September 2013)
- Planning, Planning, Planning (August 2013)
- Are You THE One? (June / July 2013)
- Practical Examples That Work (May 2013)
- A Disability Is Not a Handicap (Apr 2013)
- Totally Inexcusable (Mar 2013)
- Be Proud of Public Education (Feb 2013)
- Structure Will Motivate Students (Dec 2012 / Jan2013)
- Orchestrating the Classroom (Nov 2012)
- The Lasting Impact of Instructional Coaching (Oct 2012)
- Learning, Laughing, and Leaving a Legacy (Sep 2012)
- Twenty-two, First Year, and Legit (Aug 2012)
- A Master Teacher of Teachers (June/July 2012)
- Where Going to School Means Success (May 2012)
- A Nationally Celebrated High School (Apr 2012)
- The Highest Rated School in New York City, Part 2 (Mar 2012)
- The Highest Rated School in New York City, Part 1 (Feb 2012)
- The Importance of Culture (Dec 2011 / Jan 2012)
- You Can Teach Classroom Management (Nov 2011)
- Seamless, Transparent, and Consistent (Oct 2011)
- Coaching Teachers to Be Effective Instructors (Sep 2011)
- How a Principal Creates a Culture of Consistency (Aug 2011)
- Graduation Begins in Your Classroom (June/July 2011)
- The Inspiration of a Mother (May 2011)
- How to Be an Effective Leader (Apr 2011)
- Learning Objectives: The Heart of Every Lesson (Mar 2011)
- Even Shakespeare Had Structure (Feb 2011)
- Effectiveness Defined: It's Not a Mystery (Dec 2010 / Jan 2011)
- Surviving Without a Principal (Nov 2010)
- Achieving Greatness: Locke Elementary School, Part 2 (Oct 2010)
- Teaching Greatness: Locke Elementary School, Part 1 (Sep 2010)
- Effective from the Start (Aug 2010)
- Ten Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2010 (June/July 2010)
- The Success of a Culture of Consistency (May 2010)
- Training Teachers to Be Effective (Apr 2010)
- Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn (Mar 2010)
- Turning Teaching Dreams into Reality (Feb 2010)
- Dreams and Wishes Can Come True (Dec 2009 / Jan 2010)
- Success in a State Controlled School (Nov 2009)
- Inner City Is Not An Excuse (Oct 2009)
- Exceeding All Expectations (Sep 2009)
- Teachers Are the Difference (Aug 2009)
- Nine Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2009 (Jun/Jul 2009)
- Teachers Are the Greatest Assets (May 2009)
- The Tools for Success (Apr 2009)
- Assessing for Student Learning (Mar 2009)
- To Be an Effective Teacher Simply Copy and Paste (Feb 2009)
- The Sounds of Students Learning and Performing (Dec 2008)
- A School That Achieves Greatness (Nov 2008)
- Boaz City Schools: Professional Learning Teams (Oct 2008)
- It Was Something Close to a Miracle (Sep 2008)
- A Computer Teacher Shows the Way (Aug 2008)
- Eight Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2008 (Jun/Jul 2008)
- An Amazing Kindergarten Teacher (May 2008)
- Schools That Beat the Academic Odds (Apr 2008)
- Academic Coaching Produces More Effective Teachers (Mar 2008)
- Coaches Are More Effective than Mentors (Feb 2008)
- Wrapping the Year with Rap! (Dec 2007/Jan 2008)
- The Floating Teacher (Nov 2007)
- Taking the Bite Out of Assessment—Using Scoring Guides (Oct 2007)
- Ten Timely Tools for Success on the First Days of School (Sep 2007)
- First Day of School Script - in Spanish, Too! (Aug 2007)
- Seven Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2007 (Jun 2007)
- Effective Teachers End the Year Successfully (May 2007)
- Training Gen Y Teachers for Maximum Effectiveness (Apr 2007)
- Classroom Management Applies to All Teachers (Mar 2007)
- Students Want a Sense of Direction (Feb 2007)
- Rubrics in Two College Classes (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)
- How to Write a Rubric (Nov 2006)
- Assessing Student Progress with a Rubric (Oct 2006)
- A 92 Percent Homework Turn-in Rate (Sep 2006)
- Effective Teachers Are Proactive (Aug 2006)
- Five Year Summary of Articles (Jun 2006)
- Hitting the Bulls Eye as a Beginning Teacher (May 2006)
- They're Eager to Do the Assignments (Apr 2006)
- The Success of Special Ed Teachers (Mar 2006)
- What Teachers Have Accomplished (Feb 2006)
- Fifty Years Ago, The Legacy (Dec 2005/Jan 2006)
- The Emergency Teacher (Nov 2005)
- Classroom Management Is Not Discipline (Oct 2005)
- A Successful First Day Is No Secret (Sep 2005)
- The Most Important Factor (Aug 2005)
- Four Year Summary of Articles (Jul 2005)
- Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 2) (Jun 2005)
- Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 1) (May 2005)
- Never Cease to Learn (Apr 2005)
- His Classroom Is a Real Life Office (Mar 2005)
- The Power of Procedures (Feb 2005)
- The First Ten Days of School (Jan 2005)
- PowerPoint Procedures (Nov/Dec 2004)
- The Saints of Education (Oct 2004)
- How Procedures Saved a Teacher's Life (Sep 2004)
- How to Help Students with Their Assignments (Aug 2004)
- Three Year Summary of Articles (Jun/Jul 2004)
- His Students are All Certified (May 2004)
- What to Do When They Complain (Apr 2004)
- A Well-Oiled Learning Machine (Mar 2004)
- The Effective Teacher Adapts (Feb 2004)
- How to Start a Lesson Plan (Aug 2003)
- Applying for a Teaching Job in a Tight Market - Part 2 (Jun/Jul 2003)
- Applying for a Teaching Job in a Tight Market (May 2003)
- The Effective Substitute Teacher (Apr 2003)
- A First Day of School Script (Mar 2003)
- How to Retain New Teachers (Feb 2003)
- No Problem With Hurricane Lili (Dec 2002)
- A Class Size of 500 (Nov 2002)
- Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers (Oct 2002)
- Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds (Sept 2002)
- How To Start School Successfully (Aug 2002)
- Teaching Procedures Is Teaching Expectations (June - July 2002)
- $50,000 to Replace Each Teacher (May 2002)
- Even Superintendents Do It (Apr 2002)
- Impossible, No Job Openings? (Mar 2002)
- A Stress Free Teacher (Feb 2002)
- A Most Effective School (Jan 2002)
- Van Gogh in Nine Hours (Dec 2001)
- The Effective Teacher Thinks (Nov 2001)
- How a Good University Can Help You (Sep 2001)
- How to Motivate Your Students (May 2001)
- How to Recognize Where You Want to Be (Apr 2001)
- What Successful New Teachers Are Taught (Mar 2001)
- A Journey of the Heart (Feb 2001)
- The Miracle of Teachers (Jan 2001)
- It's Not the Students. It's the Teacher. (Dec 2000)
- The First Five Minutes Are Critical (Nov 2000)
- How to Start a Class Effectively (Oct 2000)
- The Problem Is Not Discipline (Sep 2000)
- There Is Only One First Day of School (Aug 2000)
- Applying for Your First Job (Jul 2000)
- Your First Day (Jun 2000)
Harry & Rosemary Wong products: http://harrywong.com/product/
Email Harry Wong: email@example.com