Plan and Then Plan Some More
Being prepared is essential—no matter the endeavor. Sports teams have preseason training camps, actors have production rehearsals, and schools have emergency drills. The effective teacher plans, and then plans some more.
The effective teacher shares the classroom plan with students, who then comprehend their role in the classroom management plan and can become responsible for carrying out the plan. Students will come to understand the important role they play in classroom management and the success of the class during the school year.
If you’ve ever painted a wall, you know that the preparation work takes longer than the actual painting. Poor preparation results in a poor paint job that has to be redone. Invest time to prepare, so that before the bell rings for a new school year, your students are following procedures as they begin their journey for a successful year ahead.
Create a classroom environment with a Culture of Consistency, so students know what will happen every day. Creating a Culture of Consistency streamlines the classroom and allows for maximum use of instructional time.
Have a Plan
One of the most successful, collegiate football coaches was Paul “Bear” Bryant from the University of Alabama. Upon his retirement, he had won 323 football games, 13 conference titles, and 6 national championships. He was immortalized in a postage stamp that showed him wearing his signature hounds tooth hat and holding a rolled up piece of paper in his hand. That was his game plan—a plan he had in his hands every single game.
Have a plan, not only for the day, but for the week and the month and the year, and ten years from now.
Anticipate. Plan. Anticipate every situation that could arise.
Plan for every situation that could arise. Don’t think second by second about what needs to be done. Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be.
Most people don’t plan. That’s why it is easy to beat most folks.
Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant
University of Alabama
What to Have Ready for the Start of School
If you do not have a plan for your classroom, then the students will plan the classroom for you. That is a frightening scenario. Calvin Freeman thought all he had to do was cover the textbook. The textbook became his curriculum; he had no classroom management plan or lesson plans. As he covered the textbook, behavior problems would pop up; so every day, it was cover and discipline, cover and discipline. Without a plan, the students were now in control of the classroom and he went home at the end of each day sick to his stomach.
The effective teacher develops a classroom management plan and has it in place before school begins. The plan outlines classroom procedures (what students are to DO in the classroom) and ensures the classroom runs smoothly.
Your readiness before the first day of school is an excellent predictor of your success and effectiveness for the rest of the school year.
The saying, “First impressions are lasting impressions,” rings true. The first day of school is the most important day of the school year—not a day to play it by ear. Show students you are ready for learning to take place and that you expect them to be ready to learn the moment they enter the classroom.
A Complete First-Day Script Checklist
Sally Lutz is a tenth-grade, Intensive Reading, high school teacher in Florida. She uses a checklist format for her first day of school management plan. As she completes each item, she checks it off the list.
Cheerfully and enthusiastically greet students at the door, making eye contact with each. If names are known, greet students accordingly.
Share personal information, expectations, and educational philosophy.
Post a seating chart on the whiteboard for each class period. Instruct students to reference the chart as they enter the classroom.
Place the journals at their desks (arranged in groups of four). Write prompts with explanations/directions on the whiteboard. This is where the weekly journal entry and the daily bellwork will be found throughout the school year.
Place the journals at their desks (arranged in groups of four). Write prompts with explanations/directions on the whiteboard. This is where the weekly journal entry and the daily bellwork will be found throughout the school year.
Take attendance quickly while students complete the opening assignment.
Share with students that they are expected to be in their seats when the bell rings; otherwise, they will be marked tardy. Late passes are placed in a basket near the door and filed in student portfolios. After the third tardy they will be issued a referral and sent to the Dean’s office, and detention will be served. Running through the door when the bell is ringing is not acceptable. The classroom is set up and conducted as a place of professional business. If the student is tardy or absent, a designated area and bin will house work that was missed.
The first week’s journal prompt will be copied as follows:
- Hi, Mrs. Lutz. My name is__________.
- My school schedule is__________.
- My interests and hobbies are__________.
- I did not do well on the FCAT because I__________.
- In this class I hope to learn__________.
- My address is__________.
- My home phone number is__________.
- I do/do not have my driver’s license. (circle one)
- My favorite class is__________.
- My least favorite class is__________.
On the outside of the journal, students write their first and last names/class periods. Journals prompts are to be answered in complete sentences. Prompts are to be copied word for word from the board. Permanent markers will be provided with designations and instructions posted in the classroom explaining how to obtain and return them.
Journals are kept in a specific location. How they are to be picked up and returned will be modeled. (Throwing them into the bin is not acceptable.)
Show the bin for completed homework and in-class assignments.
Share the bulletin board with classroom procedures (not rules), district dress code, class supplies, and syllabus. There will be a visual of each supply item on the ledge.
Designate two bulletin boards for students. These will include photos, newspaper clippings of student accomplishments, or any newsworthy information about the students.
The organization of the classroom and how it is run is explained and modeled. For example, in a designated closet, a numbered shelf is provided per class period for student supplies, materials, and the like.
Distribute papers with syllabus, classroom procedures, and class supply list. Each informational paper will be on a different piece of brightly colored paper.
Designate an area on the whiteboard for the date, assignments, and how to head a paper.
Explain the word wall and its function.
Point out bins where Hi-liters, rulers, dry-erase markers and erasers, glue, scissors, hole-punches, and sharpeners are stored. Explain how to properly obtain and replace the supplies.
Identify one person from each group as the runner. This person will obtain necessary items needed for the day’s work. Items will be listed on the board daily.
If a pen or pencil is needed for the day’s work, students may borrow supplies from Mrs. Lutz only if the student provides collateral.
Share the I.O.N.U. System (I Observe No Unfriendliness). This system is based upon the book, Likeability Factor, by Tim Sanders.
Review dismissal procedures. The bell does not necessarily dismiss students; Mrs. Lutz does. Students will not gather at the door; they will remain in their seats prior to dismissal.
Prior to dismissal, make a quick sweep of the classroom for cleanliness. There should be no paper on the floor, all items should be properly returned to their rightful place, and desks should be in prearranged positions.
Prepare a substitute folder. Inform students of your expectations if and when a substitute is needed—actually speaking to the class, giving out instructions for that day.
The above plan can be found on page 22 in THE Classroom Management Book.
A Plan in a Trifold
Oretha Ferguson teaches high school in Arkansas and is one of the co-authors of THE Classroom Management Book. She shares her classroom management plan with her students with a trifold, a paper folded into three parts. This trifold is available for any student who enters the class after the first day of school.
On graduation day this past May, three of Oretha’s students who she had as sophomores came back to her classroom to sit in the seats they had occupied two years ago. As sophomores, they had taken a snapshot of themselves in her classroom and wanted to re-create the photo again as graduating seniors.
Oretha shared, “The four of us sat and talked and reminisced about their time in my classroom. Priceless!”
As Oretha shares (see page ii, THE Classroom Management Book), “Procedures help me manage my class so that I can be an effective teacher.” With a classroom management plan ready on the first day of school, the year will not only flow smoothly, but years later, students will return to thank you for a well-organized class where they could learn. There is no price tag worthy enough to symbolically attach to the cost of student success. The benefits are priceless, and the price tag to accomplish it—zero! It doesn’t cost even a dime to create an effective classroom.
From Planning to Action
Oftentimes, we refer to a Classroom Management Plan as a Classroom Management Action Plan. We hear the woes of teachers who have a plan, but the plan sits on a shelf gathering dust. They complain of telling the students the plan, and they just don’t follow the plan.
A plan is only as good as the action that is put forth to implement the plan. The students must know your plan so they can become responsible for carrying it out—even if you are not in the classroom. Your plan becomes the routine of the classroom each day. The time flows smoothly because everyone knows what to do and the students become responsible for carrying out the actions of the plan.
Coaches are hired to produce winning teams. In training camp, the team goes through the steps to produce results so that on game day, the plan is executed and put into action.
Teachers are hired to produce student learning. During the first days of school, the students are taught the steps so that learning can take place. On each day of the school year, the plan is consistently executed and put into action. A class of winners is created because you planned for it and put it into practice.
Have a plan, not just for the first day of school, but for every day of the school year. Each day your students can be successful and be winners, but it depends on you and your plan. Put together a winning year for your students. Let them be the champions they deserve to be.
For a printable version of this article click here.
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Harry and Rosemary Wong have been writing columns for Teachers.Net for over 13 years and the columns all have a distinctive style. They write about effective teachers, administrators, schools, and school districts featuring techniques that are immediately replicable and at no cost. More importantly, they work to enhance student learning. An archive of past articles can be found at the end of every column, with an abstract of all articles at the end of the most recent June column.
For over 30 years, helping teachers become effective has been the passion of the Wongs. Writing for Teachers.Net is just one of the many ways they reach out to educators with their ideas on how effective teachers improve student learning.
About Harry & 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 Horace Mann Outstanding Educator Award, the National Teachers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement 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 education by the 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. She was also honored as a Distinguished Alumnus from her alma maters, Southeastern Louisiana University and Louisiana State University.
Harry and Rosemary have been awarded the Upton Sinclair Award and were nominated for the Brock International Prize in Education. They have built and sustain a school in the jungles of Cambodia.
The Wongs are the most sought after speakers in education today, booked two years into the future. Their presentations are practical, offering a common sense, user-friendly, and no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success. Over a million teachers worldwide have heard their message. In spite of their heavily booked schedule, Harry and Rosemary have agreed to write this monthly column so that more people can hear their message.
How They Develop Effective Teachers...
Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to developing effective teachers, one teacher at a time.
To do this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO.
THE Classroom Management Book is what everyone has been waiting for. It is an exhaustive extension of Unit C on classroom management in The First Days of School.
- Turn chaos into student achievement
- Reduce behavior issues; increase learning
- Step-by-step plans to a well-managed classroom
- 50 procedures in detail
- 40 QR codes with additional resources
- 320 pages in full color
- Complete first days of school plans
- Suitable for all grades, all subjects, all teachers
- Costs no money to implement
How to Be an Effective and Successful Teacheris an audio CD set that was recorded live before 800 teachers in St. Louis. Listen as they walk you through classrooms that hum with learning and share how you can replicate the same success in your classroom. In 2 hours and 40 minutes, Harry and Rosemary can transform you into a very effective and successful teacher at no cost!
This presentation has transformed the lives and teaching success of hundreds of thousands of teachers.Learn how to
- Begin the school year with a plan
- Start class immediately
- Have a well-organized and structured classroom
- Reduce discipline problems
- Have students who are engaged and working
- Teach procedures and responsibility
- Maximize classroom instructional time
- Use lesson objectives so students know what they are to learn
- Use rubrics to assess for student learning
- Deal with at-risk students
- Improve student learning and achievement
The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 3.8 million copies have been sold. It is used in 120 countries, 2,114 colleges, and most every new teacher induction program. The fourth edition has been translated into five foreign languages and includes:
- An additional chapter on procedures
- A new chapter on assessment with rubrics.
- A new chapter on Professional Learning Teams
- A new chapter for administrators on implementation
- Additional information in Going Beyond Folders
- A new DVD, Using THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL, presented by Chelonnda Seroyer
||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 also have a successful 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 effective teachers. Details for the classroom management course can be seen at www.ClassroomManagement.com.
||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 invites you to steal from him the secrets of effective teaching for all grade levels.
||Never Cease to Learn has the power to transform your
attitude and your life. In this DVD, Harry shares his journey on the road to success and tells listeners how to become the educators they were meant to be.
When the books, video series, CD, DVD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective professional development training tool for producing 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.HarryWong.com.
Helping you produce effective teachers is our passion.
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