July 2024
Vol 21 No 7

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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.

Nearly 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 e-learning course on Classroom Management.

1. The course can be taken in private and on demand.

2. The end result is a 1- to 2-inch binder with the teacher’s
Classroom Management Action Plan.

This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan used by all successful teachers.  This classroom management course can be seen at

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 with Harry Wong LIVE, speaking on How To Improve Student Achievement, 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, and e-learning 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 at or

Best Sellers

The First Days of School
by Harry & Rosemary Wong

$23.96 from
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New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
by Annette L. Breaux, Harry K. Wong

$23.07 from
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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 DVDs, with Facilitator's Handbook in PDF, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $695.00 from (volume discounts available)
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New Item

How to Improve Student Achievement
2 CD set
by Harry & Rosemary Wong

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Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs
by Joseph Alsobrook

$12.57 from
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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.
by Bonnie Williamson, Marilyn Pribus (Editor), Kathy Hoff, Sandy Thornton (Illustrator)

$17.95 from
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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

$24.50 from
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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

August 2005

The Most Important Factor

The most important factor that must be established the first day
and first week of school is Consistency.

Consistency means that the classroom is organized and predictable.  There are no surprises and both the teacher and the students know how the class is organized and run.  The students know what to do.  They know the procedures.

The students, for instance, know the procedures for

coming to attention,
entering the classroom and getting to work,
asking for help,
walking down the hall, and
lining up for the buses.

In the instructional realm, they know the procedures for

heading a paper,
working in a group, and
distributing or exchanging materials.

The result is the teacher is not constantly ordering or yelling at the students over what to do.

Power comes when you make life predictable for people.

  Howard Stevenson
The First Days of School, page 88

The Difference Between Discipline and Procedures

DISCIPLINE:  Concerns how students BEHAVE.  When you have a teacher who does not have an organized classroom management action plan, you have a teacher who has a disorganized classroom.  This, of course, results in discipline problems and the teacher spends much wasted academic engaged time handling behavior problems.

Handling behavioral problems only results in temporary behavior change.

PROCEDURES:  Concerns how things are DONE.  A teacher who has a classroom management action plan will have an organized and structured classroom where both the teacher and students will know what to do.

To see what a Classroom Management Action Plan looks like and read how it made a first year teacher instantly successful in her first year, read “How A Good University Can Help You” in our September 2001 column. (

The culmination of this Classroom Management Action Plan can be seen on

Students who know what to do in the classroom produce results and results produce learning and achievement.  This is because the students take responsibility and ownership for the task that needs to be done, resulting is fewer behavior problems and increased academic learning time.

Procedures result in behavior changes that are permanent.

Stated in a similar manner

Effective teachers MANAGE their classrooms with procedures and routines.
Ineffective teachers DISCIPLINE their classrooms with threats and punishments.

A Morning Routine

The staff at a school in Las Vegas establishes and reinforces a set of consistent procedures before school begins every morning.  This sets the tone for learning during the school day.

The principal of the K-6 school is Lee Douglas.  They have a morning routine, which is lead by a different class each week.  The class has been rehearsed by the teacher and a different student leads each part of the routine or ceremony.

Morning Opening Ceremony

  1. Line Up.  A teacher beats on a set of drums and that is the signal to line up.  The students have a designated line and they hurry to line up quickly because one primary and one elementary classroom with be selected to receive the “Line of the Day” award.  This is nothing more than a stick with a sign at the top, but they all want to earn it.

  2. Pledge of Allegiance and 30 seconds of Silent Meditation.  A student leads the pledge to the flag and then asks them for 30 seconds of silent meditation.

  3. School Song (Tuesday and Friday).  Another student asks the students to join in on the singing of the school song.

  4. Law of the Pack.  The school mascot is a wolf, so they refer to themselves as the wolf pack. A student says, “Please repeat after me…”


    Caring, Curious, Confident,
    Cooperative, Courageous,
    Flexible, Friendly,
    Honest, Organized,
    Responsible, Respectful,
    Patient, Motivated,
    Shoes Initiative, Effort,
    Perseverance, Has Integrity,
    A Sense of Humor and is a Problem Solver.

  5. Pack Slogan.  A student says, “On the Count of Three: 1, 2, 3,” or “Ready, begin…”


  6. Pack Motto.  Another student leads and says, “On the Count of Three: 1, 2, 3,” or “Ready, begin…”

    Good, Better, Best,
    Never Let It Rest,
    Till the Good is Better,
    And the Better is Best!

  7. The Grey Wolf Pledge.  A student says, “On the Count of Three: 1, 2, 3,” or “Ready, begin…”

    I believe in myself and my ability to do my best at all times.
    I will act in such a way that I will be proud of myself,
    and others will be proud of me too.
    I will not waste this day,
    because this day will not come again.

  8. Review of Weekly Life Skills.  A teacher reminds the students of the life skill being learned for the week.

  9. Dismissal.  The principal, Lee Douglas, presents the “Line of the Day” award to the primary and elementary class that has demonstrated promptness, procedures, and participation.

The recitation of the words to the song, law, motto, and pledge all reinforce the CULTURE of the school.

Thus, the students begin school each day with a vision
and purpose for coming to school and with
a set of procedures to use to succeed in school.

You can see this because when the drum beats again, the classes file off the playground, lead by the Line of the Day classes first.  As the students file down the hallways, there is no talking or pushing, because the procedure is ZIP (your lips) and FLIP (fold your arms).

And when they enter their respective classrooms, there is a bellwork assignment posted.  The students start their school work immediately!

How Procedures Were Developed

How did this school in Las Vegas develop the procedures for a morning ceremony?

Working as a learning community, they met for a series of staff development meetings and studied a different chapter, and revisited some, from The First Days of School at each meeting.

These are the procedures they used:

  1. They met for 30 minutes every Friday.
  2. They studied a different chapter, and revisited some, from The First Days of School each Friday.
  3. Each Friday the teachers brought in something that worked to share, thus, new teachers saw lots of models from the veteran teachers
  4. They agreed on and implemented one new procedure every two weeks.
  5. They Structured Everything.  There is school-wide consistency.

They agreed on and implemented one new procedure every two weeks.  They determined a need to have school-wide consistency.

Lee Douglas says, “When school began this year, we hit the floor running.  It flows.
I’ve been in education for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this.  Our school, which is in a high at-risk community, flows so well!”

She further says, “Everything in the lives of our students is chaotic.  School is the only part of their life that is consistent.”

A sixth grade boy said, “I like coming to class because everyone knows what to DO, so no one yells at you and you can get on with learning.”

Note the operative verb, “DO.”  As so many students will say, “How can I do what I am supposed to do when no one tells me what they expect me to do?”

You can always differentiate the teachers who are doing well from those who are not.  The ones who are not doing well are always talking about the poor discipline and behavior of their students.

Whereas, the effective teachers are talking about what their students are DOING, achieving, and accomplishing.

Thus, in some classrooms the teachers are preoccupied with student behavior and in other classrooms the teachers are preoccupied with student learning.


The problem in many classrooms is not discipline.
It is the lack of procedures and routines.

With a Classroom Management Action Plan ( , you can have a straightforward, well-established way to

  • improve your teaching effectiveness and
  • the student’s level of learning.

Create a Critical Mass

There’s more to the story of Lee Douglas and her teachers.  Las Vegas, or really the Clark County schools, is the fifth largest school district in America (surpassed by New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami-Dade County).  They open a new school every month and hire 2000 new teachers each year.

The district will often move an effective principal to open a new school.  This happened to Lee Douglas, but the move was easy for her.

She took a critical mass (a small group) of effective teachers with her and between them they set the culture for the new school starting on the first day of school.  It’s much easier to establish a culture if there is a preexisting culture that can be transferred, especially with a group of teachers who already know and practice the culture.

The new teachers who made up the rest of the staff saw the value of having consistency, especially with a set of successful procedures that had worked elsewhere. Why reinvent the wheel?

So, what do you do if you do not have an administrator like Lee Douglas or a principal who hasn’t even invented the wheel?

Get together as a grade level or academic subject level and start your own culture.

Build your own critical mass.  Make this a win-win situation and help the principal to see the efficacy of school-wide procedures.  And it will be a win-win situation if there are enough teachers who are using an organized classroom management action plan.

A Professional Learning Community

There is a simple, powerful concept that supports and validates the practice used at Lee Douglas’ school.  It is the concept of working together as a team or a family.  The catch-phrase in education is a Professional Learning community.

Professional Learning Communities work together "on a continuing basis.  A high performing school has never been found where people work in isolation.

There is absolutely no research to show that student learning
improves when teachers work in isolation.

Where people work in isolation, there is no culture.  Since culture refers to what people believe and what they do, where there is no culture there are no beliefs and no common set of practices that guides a school.

  • An ineffective school has a culture that is easily discernable.  Here, the teachers work in isolation, cover materials, and share nothing.
  • An effective, high performing school has a culture.   The teachers talk about teaching practice; they work together in designing curriculum and instruction; and they help each other to improve practice.

Start by gathering a group of teachers who will meet regularly to:

identify essential student learning,
develop and implement new lessons,
assess their results,
adjust their lessons based on their results,
share strategies,
set explicit, achievement goals and
continue this practice on a continuing basis.

In a professional learning community, the staff is continually learning from research as it modifies its organization, programs, and practices to meet the needs of all students.  There is continual reflection, feedback, and problem solving.

In a professional learning community, the staff participates in a series of practices that organizes and promotes mutually respectful relationships between and among its staff and students.

The Best New School Year

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  Teachers belong to one of the few professional that allows you to start all over again each year.  When school begins again, you will have a new group of students who have never seen you before.  You can do anything you want to them and YOURSELF.

You can just do what you’ve always done before.

The surest path to stagnation is to do nothing or just get by.
The First Days of School, page 285

Or, before school begins again:

  1. Make a commitment to start on a ten percent risk plan.  The First Days of School, page 304.
  2. Start a learning plan for yourself.  Don’t be afraid to learn.  Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.   The First Days of School, page 293 or all of Unit E.
  3. Listen to Never Cease to Learn, the CD that is found at the back of
    The First Days of School, 3rd edition.

It is much easier to develop good habits, than it is to break bad habits.  If you dare to teach, you must never cease to learn.

As you start another school year, please recognize that

Some teachers come and go.
Others come, stay for a while
and leave foot prints on their student’s hearts.

They do not do this with some gimmick
or fancy program.

They do this by providing strong academic content,
which has been developed with a team, and
managing their classrooms with procedures
so that teaching and learning can take place
in an organized classroom.

You can leave lots of foot prints.

Best wishes for a great new school year!

For a printable version of this article click here.

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