May 2024
Vol 21 No 5

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About Effective Teaching

The 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.

These 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 The Wongs will consider it for sharing in future Effective Teaching columns.

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.  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.

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 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

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 they become.

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 at or

Best Sellers

The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$23.96 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)
More information


Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong
eLearning course for individual use, CEUs available Preview the course and order at $124.95 (Group discounts available.)


How to Improve Student Achievement
Hear Harry Wong Live! in this 2 CD set
More information


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

$24.05 from
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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

$20.95 from
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Improving Schools from Within : Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference
by Roland Sawyer Barth

$13.30 from
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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

$16.76 from
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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

$13.96 from
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Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

August 2007

First Day of School Script—in Spanish, Too!

Elmo Sanchez and Angelica Guerra are teachers with the Miami-Dade County Schools.  These are their stories of how they began their school years with a first day of school script and how this simple technique transformed them into effective teachers.

They started their teaching careers without first day of school scripts or classroom management plans.  Unsolicited, they shared their stories with us after successfully developing and implementing their first day of school PowerPoint presentations and classroom management plans.

The Transformation of Elmo Sanchez

Elmo Sanchez begins,

“I was born and raised into a family of hard workers who have always strived to provide a quality life for their family members.  My mother and father fled from the communist country of Cuba with no assets in search of a better life.  While growing up I observed my parents working hard in order to make ends meet.  We never went on a vacation because of the necessity to pay essential bills.  My parents always stressed to me the importance of getting an education as a way to a better life.

“Everyone has a special teacher who has made a difference in their lives.  This special, beloved teacher that makes one feel appreciated and loved.  My special teacher was my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Ferrero.  I always felt safe in Ms. Ferrero’s class.  I always looked forward to the day’s lesson.  It was toward the end of the school year in kindergarten when Ms. Ferrero asked the class what we would like to be when we grew up.  Instantly, I knew the answer to her question.  I wanted to become a teacher.

“As I progressed through my academic years, I knew that it was my destiny to become a teacher.  But I faced teachers who doubted my talents.  I had many middle and high school teachers tell me that I should be a ‘skilled laborer.’ When I would share with them my choice of career, they would tell me to ‘get my head out of the clouds.’

“When I felt despair, I would think of the teacher who impacted my life, Ms. Ferrero, and knew I would make a difference in the classroom.”

After graduating with honors from Barry University with a degree in elementary education, Elmo Sanchez was hired to teach in the Miami-Dade County Schools.

He continues,

“I was hired to teach fifth grade reading, language arts, E.S.E. inclusion, and E.S.O.L.

“Monday, August 8, was the first day of the school year.  I struggled through my day’s lessons.  My students spoke throughout the class period and had no sense of direction.  I found myself using my ‘loud and/or angry’ voice.  I would go home angry and my family felt the direct effects.

“At the end of the school year, I reflected on my achievements and failures in the classroom.  I labeled myself an ‘ineffective teacher’ because my classroom lacked structure.  As a professional, I was disappointed in myself and felt I needed to make changes.

“Each year the Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a summer professional development meeting.  On Friday, June 9, I remember sitting in the Miami Lakes Educational Center Auditorium and I was captivated.  Dr. Wong’s classroom management strategies, techniques, and explanations made sense.  Then, as he says, I had a ‘light bulb’ moment.  What would happen if I could take these strategies back with me to improve the way I managed my class?

“I could visualize the changes in my head that were going to take place in my classroom the next academic school year.  By the end of the seminar, changes were occurring in my mind.  I could picture ways of changing my flaws into successes.

“I took many of Dr. Wong’s “stolen” ideas back with me to class.  I even took some of Chelonnda Seroyer’s ideas on procedures back with me to implement.

“After viewing Chelonnda Seroyer’s PowerPoint presentation online, I began to develop my own PowerPoint presentation.  I also read through The First Days of School twice and began to formulate a plan that would suit me as a teacher.

“It took me about a month to develop my classroom management PowerPoint presentation.

“Picture this:  Monday, August 14, the following year, and it is the first day of the academic school year.  I opened the door at 8:15 a.m. and greeted my students with an extended right arm.  Shaking my students’ hands, I would say, ‘Welcome to our class; I’m glad you are here.’ My students greeted me back with warm smiles.

“I projected the bellwork assignment as a PowerPoint slide.  By the time I closed the door, all of my students were actively working.  I could not believe it.

“After my students completed the bellwork, I began to introduce my students to the PowerPoint presentation I had created.

“By the end of the day, my students were following the classroom procedures.  When the 3:00 p.m. dismissal bell rang, no one got up.  They all waited for me to dismiss them.  I had control of my class and it was only the first day of school.

“At the end of the day, peace was with me.  I had an upbeat attitude and I went home happy.  For the first time in my professional career I had a feeling that was missing from my life for a very long time.  My family noticed the difference in me and liked the ‘new, happier me.’ I came to love my profession after the first day of school.  My students felt safe in the classroom atmosphere that I created.

“Last year, I was a stressed out teacher with a chaotic classroom.

“This year I feel that I’m an effective teacher with a structured classroom.  My students are always happy to come to my class.  The parents are always asking, ‘What do you do that causes my child to become so engaged in your class?  My child wants to come to your class even though they are sick.’

“My secret recipe is having a structured classroom with procedures.  I’m glad I made a choice to restructure my classroom.

“I would say that on June 9, my life as a professional teacher was transformed.”

Elmo Sanchez, Jr.
Flamingo Elementary School
Hialeah, Florida

To see Elmo Sanchez’s First Day of School PowerPoint presentation, click here.

As you look at his first day of school script, notice how he cleverly refers to “homework” as “home learning.”

He is correct in that what is assigned must be given only if it will review and cement what the student has learned in class.

The homework must be part of the lesson objective and the assessment.  If not, it’s busy work and has no value as homework.

There should be no new material contained in the homework assignments, as this will frustrate many students and even the parents who are being called upon to teach what has not been taught in the classroom.

Just as effective teachers use guided practice followed by independent practice, homework or home learning should be additional practice to reinforce what was learned in the classroom.  If a student takes skating or music lessons, the teacher sends the student home to practice on the lesson, not to create something new.

Therefore, the best home learning is that which involves examples to practice.  The key word is “practice.”

Keep in mind that the important question is, “Has the student learned?”

For more on home learning, go to our September 2006 column, “A 92 Percent Homework Turn-in Rate.”

Angelica Guerra, Una gran profesora de español

Angelica Guerra was born in Cuba and raised in Nicaragua.  She immigrated to the United States when she was thirteen years old.

Angelica had been teaching for ten years and although ambitious and dedicated, she knew that something was missing from her technique.  She wrote us a wonderful letter explaining what she needed to move forward and improve her classroom management skills.

Angelica Guerra writes,

“You have no idea how much your book The First Days of School has blessed me.  I teach Spanish, K-5, and have to travel from room to room.  My classes are generally well behaved, but there were always some glitches.  I realize now that it was because I didn’t have specified procedures about some real common sense issues.  My students have always asked me about things that I should have made clear from day one.

“Now I have a First Day Script.  As you can imagine, most things come from the book; a few I actually ‘stole’ from other teachers’ scripts you’ve posted at and modified to my particular needs.

“Things are going wonderfully well.  The script was awesome.  I made the presentation to my classes in which I asked them questions in a game-style, giving points to the teams who could answer questions from the presentation (procedures, routines, and class rules).

“We just finished our second week of school, and it is amazing to see how my students are already following the procedures I’ve taught them (from the little ones—Kindergartners through the 5th grade).  It is unbelievable, almost like magic!  I especially love when I say to them, ‘¡Denme Cinco!’ (Give me five!).

“What I love the most is how my students have learned to be ready to begin class the second I arrive and to remain quiet waiting for instructions, ready to participate.

“Sometimes I arrive at a class, and one or two students say, ‘YESSSS!!!!!’ What a high I get from that.  They sometimes even tell me how much they love my class.

“I positively love teaching, and I’m always looking for ways to make learning engaging and ‘alive’ for my students.  My goal is to be a reading coach or to go back into a classroom of my own and teach language arts.  I also want to help other teachers in their mission to help struggling readers.  That’s one of my passions!

“Thank you for the wonderful job you’re doing to help those of us who have a passion for children and teaching, and what we are ultimately doing for them—the students.

“I just wish I would have read your book ten years ago.

“I want to share my PowerPoint presentation with you.  Obviously, it’s in Spanish, so I hope someone can benefit.”

Angelica Guerra
Doral Academy Charter School
Miami, Florida

To see Angelica Guerra’s First Day of School PowerPoint presentation, click here.

As a courtesy to our readers, we asked Angelica to translate a few of her slides.

Two Stories, One Result:  Effective Teachers

Regardless of how long a teacher has been teaching, or what subject or grade, the one true constant to becoming an effective teacher is classroom management.

Angelica and Elmo were both able to become effective teachers because they put in time and effort.  They each created a First Day of School script in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.  They shared their scripts with their students on the first day of school.

They told their students what was expected of them, and the students responded by following the procedures and routines they were taught.  Having a classroom management plan led to a more effective learning environment for Angelica and Elmo.

Additional first day scripts, some in PowerPoint, from other effective teachers can be found in the past issues of our articles.  Go to the most recent June column to find the archive listing all of our previous articles.

If you have a story to share, we would love to hear from you.  We thank Elmo and Angelica for sharing with us.  It is only through sharing that we can continue to learn from each other.

Elmo was exposed to effective classroom management after listening to a speech.  Angela had her “aha” moment while reading our book.  There is a third resource you can use for creating your own classroom management plan.  The website is home to our eLearning course that will help you create a binder with your own personal management plan for the classroom.

Here’s what two teachers said after taking the course,

I am a first year teacher.  I came from the business world and it was a very rough transition.  Having never taken an educational class, this on line course Classroom Management helped me so much.  My classes are completely different from the first semester and the second semester.  I really do enjoy teaching now.

Alice C. Estevez
Business Technology Teacher
Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School, Florida

After this course I'm like a NEW TEACHER with wonderful and fresh ideas.  It is not easy because I have been a teacher for almost 20 years.  Thank you so much!”

Janeth del Rosario Rodriguez
ESE teacher, North Glade Elementary School
Opa Locka, Miami, Florida

Start With a Plan

The research is implicit.  Common sense is implicit.  It you don’t have a plan, then you’re planning to fail.

The rush to get your classroom ready for the new school year typically revolves around decorating the bulletin board, finding enough chairs for warm bodies, securing a class set of textbooks, and oiling the squeaks in your chair.

These are all necessary tasks, but your foremost responsibility as a teacher is to get your classroom organized for student success.  Student success will not hinge on a color coordinated, letter perfect display or even if you have enough textbooks at the start of school.  They are all items that will increase your students’ chances of success, but they are not the core of their success.

The foundation for student success is a classroom that is organized so that the maximum number of classroom minutes can be spent on instruction and learning.  Procedural tasks eat away at precious learning minutes, especially if these tasks are not thought out in advance and rehearsed with students.

More common sense says, the more the students are engaged in meaningful learning activities, the greater the chances are that the students will learn.

By pre-planning your classroom organization and sharing and teaching it to your students at the start of school, these tasks will become automatic actions for the students.  Little class time will be spent on these tasks once they become routines in your classroom.

Time is the most precious commodity of the classroom teacher.  With classroom procedures clearly defined at the start of the year, your instructional day will be filled with excitement and learning, instead of berating and reminding.

Make Your List

  1. Make a list of all the actions that eat away from your instructional time. Include on your list things like exchanging and collecting papers, sharpening pencils, bathroom passes, missed classroom work, tardies, and dismissal.
  2. How do you want your students to carry out those actions so they take minimum time with little distractions?
  3. Devise a plan for teaching the procedures you want the students to do.
  4. And then, DO IT! Teach the plan so that your students know your expectations for how the class is organized for their success.

The first day of school is the most important day of the school year and will set the tone for all that follows.  Show your students you are organized for their success. Plan now for a most effective school year for you and your students.

For a printable version of this article click here.

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