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Vol 21 No 7

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Effective Teaching
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Special to the Gazette
December 2013/January 2014

Shaping a Solid Foundation

Lucy's Story

"The Foundation of Effective Teaching"

There are many steps or procedures to follow in order to make a ceramic piece functional.  It starts with the foundation and consistency of the clay, while it is being thrown on the wheel.  As the clay is spinning in the center of the wheel, you take control so that it doesn't wobble and then you put it into shape.  It is crucial to know how to move your hands as you shape your piece, and you have to repeat the procedure to be successful.

Just as making a piece of pottery requires procedures, managing a classroom also demands them, too.

When procedures are followed, the ceramic piece turns out well and can be put to use.  When procedures are in place in the classroom, the children work and learn effectively.  The students pay attention and participate and can work independently without creating chaos or disruptions.
Effective teaching happens when the teacher structures a foundation with procedures.

What happens when the structure of the fresh piece of clay, as it is being thrown, falters, or is too weak?  It creates a mess and it falls apart!  Luckily it is only clay and not a student; but the clay is flexible and can be reshaped.  Likewise, students can be taught to rehearse procedures when they get out of shape.

By following a routine with procedures, the students will have a strong support structure that becomes the backbone to their success as they learn any subject or ceramic technique.

When effective teaching occurs in the classroom, you will find happy children, and the finished product is a successful classroom!  Or a pretty cool and functional ceramic piece!

Her Success Continues

Lucy teaches in San Marcos, Texas, and is a very happy and successful teacher.  Why?  Her class is organized and well-managed.

Her story is part of the forthcoming book, THE Classroom Management Book.

Another Successful Career

The research says that 16 percent of new teachers will drop out of teaching in their first year and 50 percent will drop out of the profession within their fifth year of teaching.  You don’t have to become another drop out statistic.  You’ve taken out a sizable student loan; your dream is to make a difference in the lives of young people; and no one going to dash your dreams!

You can learn from those who have succeeded and have stayed in education.

In 2003, Holly Bonessi sent us this letter.

I started My First Teaching Position in January as a 7th grade teacher.

I replaced a teacher who never returned from winter break.

I walked in, NEVER having stepped into a classroom—
NEVER a student taught.

Chaos!  No structure, procedures, or routines.

The prior teacher allowed students to do whatever they wanted—had yoga on Fridays and allowed 2-liter soda and candy and snacks.

My mother, who is a teacher, said that I must have a plan and how important it is to be prepared.
On my first day, I went over my procedures which I modeled and had them rehearse.  The students stared at me like I was a fool!

I worked on these procedures every day until April, when I finally saw progress.  In that time, the students tried everything!  They even signed a petition to fire me and gave it to the principal.

I never gave up and I told them that—even though I cried daily after school.

Finally, at the end of the school year, some of the most resistant students thanked me and gave me big hugs.

I would not still be teaching today had I not understood one word,

We saw Holly on October 30, 2013, for the second time, 10 years later.

Today, she is chair of 18 people in the English department at Millennium High School in Arizona.  She also conceived and is the advisor of the iTiger, the student news website, and is the advisor of the Quill and Scroll Honor Society.  She is also working on her Master’s degree in Educational Administration.

Why is she the success that she is?  Organization and procedures.

Highest Test Scores in the School

Amanda Brooks teaches in Dyersburg, Tennessee, and said, “I was a terrified first year teacher on the eve of beginning my career.”

Gathered with 550 teachers from her school system for one of our preschool meetings, she saw a PowerPoint presentation a teacher used on his first day of school to explain his classroom organization and structure.  Click here to see that presentation.

Modifying that presentation, she began her first day as a brand new teacher with a plan.  Click here to see Amanda’s PowerPoint presentation.

Two weeks into the school year, we received an email from Amanda and she said, “I am in the middle of my second week of school, and I couldn't ask for a better beginning to my career.

“The first day went like clockwork.  The day went absolutely flawless, and it was an awesome day.”

At the end of her first year of teaching she wrote, “My first year has ended, and I am so thankful for that first day of school when I began practicing our procedures.  I never had to waste time repeating what they should be doing or reprimanding them for bad behavior.  It allowed me to be everything I wanted to be as a teacher and create an environment where students could just learn.

“I simply taught and enjoyed my students.”

Yes, you, too, can teach and enjoy your students.
How?  If you have a plan and you work that plan.

At the end of her second year of teaching, Amanda wrote, “I just completed my second year of teaching, and what a fantastic year I had!  My state test scores came back and my class had the highest test scores in the school, and I am only saying this to encourage new teachers to get it right the first day and then enjoy the rest of their year.”

This past year, Amanda completed her fourth year as a teacher and during the summer, the district hired her and her teaching partner to conduct a workshop for 28 new teachers coming into the district.

She gave every new teacher a binder with her classroom management plan.

The teachers who succeed have a plan.

  • Please read pages 213 through 218 in The First Days of School to see one successful teacher’s classroom management plan.
  • Click here to see how some universities prepare their teachers with a classroom management plan.

A Daily Closing Message

Sarah Jondahl graduated from Western Kentucky University with a classroom management plan.  We visited her classroom after she had been teaching for six weeks and observed a teacher with a well-run classroom that was flowing along like a well-oiled learning machine.

There were no discipline issues; the class was on-task; the kids loved their classroom and the teacher; and examples of student work were posted all over the room to give it a climate of success.

At the end of the class we saw her do something we had never seen before.  Yes, we learned from a brand new teacher.  She used a “Daily Closing Message.”  If you have been in the business world, you know there are procedures for closing the store or the sales register system.  Or, you’ve seen the procedure, “Will the last person leaving the room, please turn out the lights.”

At the end of the day, Sarah distributed a slip of paper to each student.  On the paper was a simple recap of everything they had learned that day.  The students read the Daily Closing Message together.  She told the students to take it home to their parents and read it to them so they would know what they learned in class that day.

With the Daily Closing Message, the students are able to review what they learned in school.  The Daily Closing Message also communicates with the home so parents can see what their child did and learned that day.

Today, Sarah is in her 14th year of teaching.  How did she succeed from Day 1?

Sarah showed us her binder from Western Kentucky University.  Her university taught her how to organize a classroom, which is what management is all about.

Today, that one binder has grown to two binders—one for how to manage the classroom and a second for how to manage the instructional program.

Sarah is one of the co-authors of our forthcoming book,
THE Classroom Management Book.

Your Class Can Run Itself

THE Classroom Management Book is coming soon.  You’ll learn how to

  • start every day and every period with success.
  • start class with no wasted time.
  • eliminate discipline problems.
  • teach procedures so your students know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
  • establish consistency so the class responsibly runs itself.

Click here for a preview of the book. 

Email your name and email address to for notification of the book’s release and a very special prepublication price offer.

As 2013 draws to a close, we wish to thank all of the educators who have shared with us through the years.  Your stories are the best gifts to the profession.  Perhaps you’ll find your piece in THE Classroom Management Book or hear it told in one of our presentations.  We encourage you to continue sharing with us so we, in turn, can share your success with others.

You—an effective teacher—are the most valuable gift you can give your students each and every day.



For a printable version of this article click here.

About Effective Teaching...

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 WongHarry 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:

  1. An additional chapter on procedures
  2. A new chapter on assessment with rubrics.
  3. A new chapter on Professional Learning Teams
  4. A new chapter for administrators on implementation 
  5. Additional information in Going Beyond Folders
  6. A new DVD, Using THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL, presented by Chelonnda Seroyer
TET 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

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

Helping you produce effective teachers is our passion.

Harry & Rosemary Wong Columns on Teachers.Net...
Related Resources & Discussions on Teachers.Net...

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