June 2024
Vol 21 No 6

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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 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, 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

$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

February 2005

The Power of Procedures

When her mother died, she asked to be taken back to the high school from which she graduated.


Chelonnda Seroyer had been warned in education classes not to share too much of her personal life with her students, but she felt obligated to do so.  She told her 11th and 12th graders that her mother died when she was 17 years old and that she has been on her own ever since then.  In fact, for two months after her mother’s passing she searched for a place to call “home” and college never seemed like an option to her at that time.

However, she dreamed that one day she would be a teacher because of a special English teacher that she met in the 10th grade.  It was at the Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy, where she was given the priceless gift of a wonderful teacher!  Her name was Leola Wade and she, like most teachers, will never know the impact she had on Chelonnda’s life.

So much so that Chelonnda graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a bachelor’s degree in English/Language Arts and a teaching certificate in Secondary Education.

School Gave Her Consistency

Ms. Wade wasn’t Chelonnda’s favorite teacher because she introduced her to Shakespeare and taught her how to write a term paper.  She was Chelonnda’s favorite teacher because she encountered Mrs. Wade during the most difficult time of her life.  She was a 17-year-old senior with a dying mother and a 6-year-old sister at home.  She spent most of her nights sleeping in an uncomfortable hospital room chair near her mother and was so sleepy most days that she could hardly keep her eyes open.

However, Ms. Wade let Chelonnda know everyday that she was happy to have Chelonnda in her classroom.  This highly effective teacher provided Chelonnda with mind tingling assignments that kept her engaged, made her feel like she was important, and always expected the best from her.

Ms. Wade never pitied or made exceptions for Chelonnda.  Ms. Wade’s high expectations pushed Chelonnda to do her very best.

Why did Chelonnda feel special and “safe” while she was in this class?  Although she didn’t realize it at the time, Chelonnda thrived in this environment because the classroom was full of predictable procedures.  There were no surprises.  Chelonnda knew exactly what was expected of her and she did it.

This predictable environment was essential to her success in school.  It was an environment that she longed for because everything else in her life was so unpredictable.  Her personal life was filled with uncertainty for herself, her sister, and her mother.

Take Me to School

Four months after graduating from high school, Chelonnda’s mother lost her battle with cancer.  It was the worst day of Chelonnda’s life.  She had no one to turn to and had no idea what would happen next.

Where does a 17 year old go after she hears that her mother has just passed away?  Her mother’s friend asked, “Chelonnda, where would you like to go?”  And she said, “Please take me to school.”

For years, she could not understand why she requested that her mother’s friend take her directly back to her high school after they left the hospital.  It was not until several years later, on June 25, 2004, as she listened to Harry Wong talk about the importance of consistency and procedures in the classroom, that it came to her.

She wanted to go back to her high school because it was the only place that offered her the consistency that she so desperately longed for.  That was the one place where things were always in order and predictable.  She knew what was expected of her, and she did it.

Chelonnda said she had a “light bulb moment” as she was sitting in the Grand Prairie, Texas, high school auditorium listening to Harry speak.

A Book That Gave Her Consistency

Chelonnda’s student teaching experience was very scary for her.  A friend introduced Chelonnda to our book, The First Days of School, and said, “The best advice that I can give you is to READ THIS BOOK!”

Because Chelonnda was extremely nervous about beginning her student teaching, she ran out and immediately purchased the book that claimed that it could tell her how to make her first day of school go off without a hitch.  Could this be true?  Well, she had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so she decided to give it a try.

During her student teaching she took notes during the day from her field experiences and she took notes at night from what had quickly become her “classroom instruction manual,” A.K.A. The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher.

Luckily, she was paired with a great role model.  She spent the first half with an amazing teacher, Sandy Few, at Butler High School in Huntsville, Alabama.  It was in Mrs. Few’s classroom that Chelonnda realized once again the importance of procedures.

Mrs. Few was a loving teacher who never had any discipline problems because everyone in the class knew what was expected from them.  They knew that there were consequences for not doing their homework and they also knew that there were procedures in place that would facilitate their learning and take the “mystery” out of assignments and tests.

Preparing For Her First Days of Teaching

It was time to put the book to the test.  Offered a job at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Alabama, she was trusting and believing in her “classroom instruction manual” to deliver on its promises.  The questions were swarming.  Is this really going to work?  Could it really be this simple, as it was for Kazim Cicek described last December? (

All she wanted was to leave the school after her first day feeling confident that she had made the right career choice!

So, she spent about a month in her classroom preparing for her students.  The first thing that she did was align her lesson plans with the state and school district curriculum.  She made sure that she was familiar with their objectives and she planned her lessons accordingly.

Next, she looked at her class rosters and decided on a layout for her room that would be conducive to her teaching style.  Once the desks were in place, she chose a method of assigning seats that would be easy to follow and comfortable for her students.

Then, she created a PowerPoint presentation that explained everything she wanted her students to know about their classroom.  She explained the procedures for everything she could think of!

She had PowerPoint slides on how to hand in papers, the make-up work policy, how to enter the classroom, how to exit the classroom, what to do when they needed to leave the classroom during class, etc.

She quickly realized that as she was typing her procedures, something amazing was happening.  She was becoming a little less nervous about her first day!  Why?  Because she knew exactly what she expected from her students, and now she had a clear and concise way of communicating that to them!  Things were starting to work even BEFORE the first day of school!

The First Day Comes

The first day of school finally came.  Her lesson plans were ready.  The desks were in order. The PowerPoint was ready to go.

Standing at the door dressed in a suit, she was ready to greet her students.  They filed in one by one as she secretly wondered what was going to happen next.

Wait, she noticed something!  Another “good omen” even before the first day had officially begun.

She had not even entered the classroom yet.  The tardy bell had not rung.  However, the students had started working on the assigned bellwork.  Yes!  She was now confident that this was going to be a good day.

After the tardy bell rang, she introduced herself to the class, told them a little about her life, and let them know that she had high expectations for them.  She started her PowerPoint and the rest is history!

In December, we shared Kazim Cicek’s procedures and the PowerPoint slides he uses with his classes.  This month, we are happy to share the classroom organization and procedures of Chelonnda Seroyer and her PowerPoint slides.  (To view her presentation click here.  Control the slides with buttons near the bottom of your screen.  Please be patient for slow loading images used in the slides.)

She will also use many of these slides this month in a presentation for the NASA (National Aeronautical and Space Administration) conference in Washington, DC.  She has been invited to tell her story as encouragement for some 1000 college students who are considering teaching as a profession.

What an experience for this audience of potential teachers to listen to a teacher who became successful in her first year-and-a-half of teaching.

Chelonnda’s Successful First Year

Chelonnda’s first year of teaching was remarkable.  She had a lot of fun with her students and she learned something new everyday.  She learned that if you expect students to do well, they will rise to the occasion.

She also learned that there were a lot of students who actually enjoyed having a predictable environment and they felt “safe” because they knew exactly what to expect every day.  They liked consistency—in a world that can be inconsistent.

Chelonnda also had a very productive first year outside of the classroom.  She was a senior sponsor, Homecoming Parade assistant, a member of the Building Based Student Support Team (an in school committee that has been mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act).

For her efforts she received the Bob Jones High School “First Year Patriot Award,” which is given to the first year teacher who is recognized for outstanding accomplishments and achievements in academics, athletics, or co-curricular pursuits.

Chelonnda Provides Consistency

Her students respected the fact that she was well prepared each day and they responded by working hard to learn the procedures.  Chelonnda provided for her students the same consistency that her high school teacher, Mrs. Wade, had established for Chelonnda and her classmates.  It was now Chelonnda’s time to provide that same consistency.

She was able to connect with her students by showing that she genuinely cared about them.  She told them why procedures were necessary in the classroom and then spent an entire two weeks discussing and practicing them.  She explained to them that there are procedures in “real life” that we all have to follow.  Her students are 17 and 18 year olds so they talked a lot about work procedures at their part-time jobs.  They appreciated the discussion and had no problem following the classroom procedures.

One procedure that was especially helpful is one that she “stole” from a middle school teacher, Karla Henson, in her school district.  The impressive procedure consists of issuing a “Student Responsibility Card.”

Anytime any student does not have the assignment, they are to fill out a “Student Responsibility Card.”  They explain why they do not have the assignment, sign and date it, and give it back.  There is no penalty other than loss of credit on the assignment.  However, it causes the student to take responsibility for not having the assignment.  It also provides the teacher with written documentation that the student chose not to do their homework.  This has proven to be an invaluable procedure.

Chelonnda’s Second Year

At the start of Chelonnda’s second year, she had the opportunity to hear Harry Wong—live—in person!  Her principal asked her to prepare a report for her faculty based on her experience.  She was also asked to serve on the Alabama Reading Initiative Team, as well as assist one of her administrators by facilitating a “First Days of School” monthly “get together” for the first year teachers at her school.  They use The First Days of School as a foundation to discuss and share procedures that work in their classrooms.

Chelonnda shares,

“All I can say is thank you Dr. Wong!”  You have given me the confidence that I need to fully enjoy my career.  I am in an absolutely outstanding school system that supports its new teachers and thoroughly appreciates my hard work.  I could not ask for a more fulfilling career.  My administrators are supportive, my co-workers are phenomenal, and the students are absolutely amazing!”

Her Dreams for the Future

Chelonnda would like to begin working on her National Board Certification within the next year or two.

In addition to teaching, she would love to participate in some type of new teacher induction program, because she has expectations that others can succeed just as she succeeded.

She is so passionate about the power of an effective classroom that she would truly enjoy sharing her experiences with other new teachers.  She has been on both sides of the fence and she feels that she can offer a unique perspective on the classroom.

Although she has not been teaching for very long, she is very well acquainted with the benefits of an effective classroom.

She is the product of an effective teacher who provided a classroom with consistent procedures and had high expectations for her!

In turn, she is herself, an effective teacher who provides a classroom with consistent procedures and offers high expectations to her students!

Making Dreams Come True

Little does Chelonnda realize that her dreams are coming true.  By allowing us to share her story with others, she is influencing and giving hope to teachers who face seemingly insurmountable situations.

The influence of Mrs. Wade on her life is a gift every teacher is able to give to students.  Chelonnda is passing it on to her students.  Continue the chain and be that influence and pillar of consistency for your students.  You will never know the power of your actions, but you can rest each night knowing that you provided for your students the foundation needed to face the world with calm and consistency.

Procedures are simple, but their impact is enormous.  Let us hear from you and the power of procedures in your classroom.  Share with us your story, and in turn we may share it with others.  Remember, it’s the simple things in life that make all the difference in the world.  Make a difference—today.

For a printable version of this article click here.

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