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

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

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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)

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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

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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

June 2007

Seven Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2007

Eight years ago, a young teacher approached me (Harry) after I had finished speaking to the teachers of the El Reno Public Schools in Oklahoma.

I still vividly remember the day—an opening-of-school event on a Thursday in August 1999.  School was set to start on the following Monday.  The teacher said to me, “Mr. Wong, I will be starting as a brand new teacher on Monday and I’d like to give you something.  Here is my script for the first day of school.”

That script was given to me by Melissa Pantoja, now Melissa Boone Hand.  The script can be found in our first article, “Your First Day,” which we posted seven years ago in June 2000.

Since that time, we have been sharing the techniques, activities, and strategies of teachers and administrators for the past seven years, and we thank you for all for your kind sharing.

A Clue to Being Successful

As many of you may know, the research tells us that over half of the new teachers leave the profession within their first five years.  This is a shame, as all teachers enter the profession intending to make a difference in the lives of young people.

Teachers invest money, time, and energy in their education.  But for whatever reasons, some find their hopes and dreams of being a teacher dashed, and the profession annually loses thousands of dedicated, energetic, and caring new teachers.

Melissa is not one of those statistics.  What Melissa did her first year of teaching, for her very first day, may be a clue to the future success of all beginning teachers.

As the title of our book, The First Days of School, implies and as we say in that book,

  • What you do on the first days of school will determine your success or failure for the rest of the school year.
  • Knowing how to structure a successful first day of school can literally set the stage for a successful school year.
  • Effective teachers spend time organizing and structuring the classroom so students know what to do to succeed.

Melissa Boone Hand, Seven Years Later

There have been many changes and accomplishments in Melissa’s life over the past eight years, both personally and professionally.  We recently asked Melissa to share some of these changes.

“After eight years in the Elementary Art classroom, teaching literally thousands of children, I have learned more than I’ve taught.  I now know more than ever about myself and my own learning style.  Rarely does a week go by that I don’t learn something totally new, even if it is merely learning from myself.  Each year I find new and better ways of learning and teaching.”

Melissa uses visual clues and verbal prompts to guide students through each situation they encounter during their time together.  She states, “Teaching has become natural to me and at times the ‘job’ seems easy.  Oh Yes!  I do work hard, but the reward is worth it.  I feel like I was born to do what I’m doing.”

Melissa knows that career happiness results from career development.  Her career as an educator is better than ever.  Melissa’s principal often tells her that she’d make a great administrator.  In addition to being a full-time elementary art educator, Melissa is also on the following committees and boards:

  • Special Teachers (P.E., Music, Art, and Spanish) - Team Leader
  • Campus Mentor Teacher Coordinator
  • Beginning Educators-Successful Teachers (BEST) - new teacher induction mentor
  • District Education Improvement Committee (DEIC) - Employee and Student Dress Code Research Team Chair
  • Rowlett Arts and Humanities Commission - Regional Young Artist Exhibit Event Coordinator and Arts Resource Directory Committee Chair
  • Campus-Wide Annual Fine Arts Festival - Coordinator
  • Science Vertical Team - Committee Member
  • District Planning and Zoning Task Force - Member

Melissa has now joined the ranks we call teacher-leader!

Happy professionals will never cease to learn because they know that change and growth result in success.  Read more about how effective teachers continue their own education in our April 2005 article, “Never Cease to Learn.”

Part of Melissa’s career success is a result of her sharing with and listening to her colleagues.  Melissa states, “I have the mindset that if I want to voice my opinion about what works and what could work better, then I need to be willing to jump in and join the ranks of the ‘difference makers’.

“The difference makers are the one who are busy—they are always studying, researching, and looking for new ways to raise student achievement, create a better school climate, and make what we do as educators more efficient and effective.

“I know a lot of good teachers, and a few outstanding teachers.  They work hard at making a difference everyday.  You see joy on their faces and they create an exciting atmosphere within their classrooms.  Spending time with these teachers has been a source of energy and encouragement for me.

“My advice to anyone pursuing a profession in education is to prepare yourself for a lot of hard work.  A teacher must have an enduring hope that the small seeds planted each day will produce an abundant harvest.

“I work hard and get worn down at times but I keep going because I love what I do.  I love being a teacher, and I love knowing that I am making a positive difference in the lives of my students.”

Eight years later, Melissa has moved from a simple script to a full-blown website to communicate with her students and parents.

To see how far she’s come in managing her classroom, visit Melissa’s website at

After viewing Melissa’s website, you can understand why she says, “I would like to think that I’m becoming more of a natural born teacher—but in reality I just keep getting better students.  Well, that is what I tell them anyway.  My students know where to sit; they know what to do the first several minutes of class; and they know what to expect.”

Melissa Boone Hand’s career success and happiness are a result of her continuous education, her involvement in various organizations, her constant growth, and it all began with her first day of school script.  You can read more about all these steps to becoming a successful professional educator in The First Days of School.

Summary of Effective Teaching Articles, 2000 to 2007

JUNE 2000--Your First Day
Key Idea: First Day of School Script.
 Start school with a first day of school script.  One teacher began his year with fun activities and spent the rest of the school year chasing after his classes.  His first day lacked structure, which led to his students structuring the class for him.  Elementary school teacher, Melissa Pantoja, began the first day of school with a script, which led to a successful beginning.  Her script is provided for you to use and adapt to your classroom.

JULY 2000—Applying for your First Job (
Key Idea: Mentoring is Not Induction.
 Know the difference between mentoring and new teacher induction.  Statistics say that teachers entering the profession right now will not be teaching in three to five years; in fact, many will not even last a year.  To combat the high turnover rate of teachers, many schools and districts are turning to new teacher induction (not mentoring) programs to prepare teachers for success in the classroom.  Examples of successful induction programs are provided.  Review them and learn what to look for in your next school.

AUGUST 2000—There is Only One First Day of School (
Key Idea: Seven Things Students Want to Know.
 What you do the first day of school will determine your success for the rest of the school year.  Discover the seven things all students want to know on their first day of school, and why a successful year starts on the first day of school.  You would not expect a truck driver to haul an expensive load without first making sure he knew how to drive the truck.  Neither can you expect students to succeed if they do not know the routines and procedures of your class.  The seven things all students want to know are provided so that you can use them to prepare for your first day of school.

SEPTEMBER 2000—The Problem is not Discipline (
Key Idea: Manage, not Discipline Your Classes.
 Learn how to manage, rather than disciplining your classroom.  The former will enhance student learning, and the latter will wear you down.  Rather than discipline your classes, manage them.  Learn which procedures every class needs to have down before students can start learning.  Create or hone your procedures so that this school year will be your best school year ever!  Suggested procedures are outlined in the article.  Copy and use them in your own classroom.

OCTOBER 2000—How to Start a Class Effectively (
Key Idea: Effective Start-up Techniques for Prime Time.
  Start your class with an organized routine that includes bellwork and other effective start-up techniques.  The first few minutes of every class are prime time, so what you do in those first few minutes determines how on task your students will be.  Read about teachers and schools who have experienced success because of effective prime-time practices.  Use the prime-time examples as a guide to create your own effective prime-time practices.

NOVEMBER 2000—The First Five Minutes are Critical (
Key Idea: The First Five Minutes Are the Most Important.
  Make the first five minutes of your class count.  Like the first chapter of a good novel, the beginning of class must capture students’ attention.  Have your students working the minute they walk into class and you will have their attention.  Once you have achieved this, it is easy to keep them on task.  Use the examples in this article to create your own bellwork and warm-up activities.

DECEMBER 2000—It’s Not the Students, It’s the Teacher (
Key Idea: Effective Teachers Show, not Tell.
 When teachers tell us their discipline problems, we refer them to this article.  Ineffective teachers want to “do things” to students, whereas effective teachers know how to teach procedures.  Rather than telling students what to do, show them how to do it.  Effective teachers, like effective parents, show students what to do instead of telling and yelling.  Even a student from a negative home environment will respond positively if teachers follow the steps shared for teaching procedures.

JANUARY 2001—The Miracle of Teachers (
Key Idea: Thanks, Praise, and Encouragement for the Miracle of Teachers.
 Learn what teachers have been doing right, and how they have improved the American condition exponentially in a few short years.  Teachers are the most amazing professionals in the world today, and you deserve to be thanked and to know that their accomplishments are shaping the nation for continued success.  Take heart and encouragement from the stories of hope in this article.  You, the teacher, are a miracle.

FEBRUARY 2001—A Journey of the Heart (
Key Idea: The Impact of Teachers on Students’ Lives.
 This column is about the journey teachers make into the hearts of their students.  What you do everyday, whether someone tells you or not, touches the lives of your students in immeasurable ways.  Teachers change lives, and the proof is in every student who has gone on to succeed.  If you just touch even one life as a teacher, you are a success.  Learn to invite students to learn by following the steps in this article.

MARCH 2001—What Successful New Teachers Are Taught (
Key Idea: Induction Prepares Teachers for Success.
 Learn how induction programs teach new teachers how to become successful teachers.  Start your new career right, in a district that values its teachers and provides a comprehensive and ongoing induction program for all teachers new to the district.  Know the difference between mentoring programs and induction programs, and choose to teach in a district that has a solid, comprehensive program to help you develop in your chosen career.

APRIL 2001—How to Recognize Where You Want to Be (
Key Idea: The Ten Questions to Ask at Your Interview.
 Know the ten questions you should ask at your interview to ensure you choose the school and district that are right for you.  After reading this article, you will be able to recognize the district you want to teach in and maximize your potential.  Your career depends on the decision you make.  Copy the ten questions you should ask and use them in your next interview.

MAY 2001—How to Motivate Your Students (
Key Idea: Motivational Activities to Capture Students’ Attention.
 Motivate and entice students with discrepant events.  Then, learn how and why to continue the lesson with group collaboration.  Students will remain motivated to do whatever they are instructed to do.  Ideas for discrepant events in different subjects are provided in this article.  Use them to capture the class’ attention and imagination.

SEPTEMBER 2001—How a Good University Can Help You (
Key Idea: The Value of a Good University.
 A good university will teach you how to be an effective teacher.  Sarah Jones’ experiences at Western Kentucky University enabled her to begin her teaching career with the proficiency of a veteran teacher.  Her success is due to diligent instruction in everything from lesson planning to effective classroom management practices.  Before she ever set foot in a classroom, she already had a comprehensive list of classroom procedures to develop responsible students.  Copy and adapt Sarah Jones’ action plan to meet the needs of your teaching environment.

NOVEMBER 2001—The Effective Teacher Thinks (
Key Idea: Effective Teachers Can Implement What Other Effective Teachers are Doing.
 Become an effective teacher by thinking about what you learn, or observe other teachers doing, and adapting it to meet your unique classroom management needs.  Steve Geiman, a Physical Education teacher in Virginia, thought about what Harry said at a conference and the wheels began to spin.  The result is an effective and efficient model of classroom management that has transformed his PE class.  Steve's procedures are outlined in this article.  Copy, adapt, and implement the procedures in your class.

DECEMBER 2001—Van Gogh in Nine Hours (
Key Idea: Effective Classroom Management Works in Every Situation.
 This column illustrates effective classroom management procedures in two very different environments, the library and an elementary art classroom.  Learn from the success of Betty Hamer and Jeanne Bayless, as they guide their students to success with routines and procedures that cut down on the confusion, mistakes, and messes and allow students to get down to the business of learning.  Both teachers’ classroom management procedures are featured in the article for your needs.

JANUARY 2002—A Most Effective School (
Key Idea: Safe and Productive School Culture Leads to An Effective School.
 Transform your school into an effective school, by creating a school culture that promotes a safe and productive learning environment starting on day one.  Goldfarb Elementary in Las Vegas, Nevada, has just such a culture.  They developed and maintained a consistent school-wide set of procedures that have become the foundation for the school’s culture.  Create school-wide procedures using Goldfarb’s procedures as a guide, and watch your school blossom into an effective learning environment.

FEBRUARY 2002—A Stress-Free Teacher (
Key Idea: Become a Stress-Free Teacher. 
Reduce your work-related stress by enforcing consistent procedures and routines for all classroom activity and interactions.  Liz Breaux’s structured approach to classroom management has guided students to success, and has made her classroom virtually problem-free.  Apply her secrets to stress-free teaching, and begin your own path to a teaching career free from anxiety.

MARCH 2002—Impossible, No Job Openings? (
Key Idea: Teacher Induction Means Teacher Retention.
  Learn how to retain your new teachers with a structured new teacher induction program that guides them through classroom management, instructional strategies, and more.  By teaching them the things they need to know before they step foot in a classroom, you will be setting them up for a successful career.  See the procedures that Medford’s new teachers have created, and get inspiration for your own list of procedures.

APRIL 2002—Even Superintendents Do It (
Key Idea: Good Leaders Are Models of Success.
 We have shared how teachers and principals create and maintain effective schools.  In this article we show you that superintendents do it, too.  Sunnybrook School District #171, under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Majchrowicz, has developed an effective district-wide culture based on core values agreed upon by all the member of the learning community.  The district-wide set of procedures established by Sunnybrook’s learning community, as well as their four core values, are showcased in this column.  Review this article to select elements of effective teaching to implement in your school or classroom.

MAY 2002--$50,000 to Replace Each Teacher (
Key Idea: New Teacher Induction Programs.
 This article highlights effective new teacher induction programs and shares evidence to support the implementation of induction.  The costs of having an effective new teacher induction program are small in comparison to the cost of losing newly hired teachers.  Use the information in this article to guide you as you build an effective induction program for your new teachers, or use the information within this article to guide your quest for the perfect school or district in which to begin, or continue, your teaching career.

JUNE - JULY 2002—Teaching Procedures is Teaching Expectations (
Key Idea: Procedures Start on Day One.
 Teach your students procedures starting on day one.  Establishing procedures beginning with the first day of school will set you up for a smooth school year.  Don’t believe us?  Read this month’s column, and learn how teaching procedures teaches your student what you expect.  Use the first day of school script contained within the article to develop or hone your own first day of school script.

AUGUST 2002—How to Start School Successfully (
Key Idea: First Day of School Action Plan.
 Start your first day of school with an action plan.  Sarah Jones began planning her action plan, procedures, and activities long before she ever set foot in a classroom, and it paid off.  Use the sample Action Plan to guide you in creating your own First Day of School Action Plan, and the Academic Expectations templates to guide you in creating your statement of academic expectations.

SEPTEMBER 2002—Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds (
Key Idea: Effective Procedures Make Activities Effortless. 
Using procedures will make any classroom activity go off without a hitch, and will guarantee that all your supplies are accounted for at the end of the activity.  Imagine a school year in which no supplies are lost and activities flow without a single discipline problem.  Use the time-tested methods for dispensing and collecting materials contained in this article and never again lose another ruler!

OCTOBER 2002—Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers (
Key Idea: Effective Practices Work in All Classes.
 Effective classroom practices apply to all teachers, even foreign language teachers.  Effective teachers can adapt the techniques in The First Days of School to any classroom environment, and any subject matter, even high school Spanish!  Review examples of foreign language teachers’ procedures, from what to do before class starts to procedures for traveling teachers.  Reflect on what you have learned and then adapt your favorite procedures to implement in your own classroom.

NOVEMBER 2002—A Class Size of 500 (
Key Idea: How to Manage Your Non-Traditional Classroom.
 Imagine standing in front of 500 teenagers, raising a hand, and having the entire class of 500 become quiet in a matter of seconds.  It is possible.  These results are just a matter of establishing procedures and practicing them with the students until they become routine.  This article examines the success of teachers in non-traditional classrooms, and illustrates how even the largest class can be a well-oiled learning machine.

DECEMBER 2002—No Problem With Hurricane Lili (
Key Idea: Students Remember Effective Procedures.
 School-wide procedures can make school flow smoothly even after a devastating act of nature has shaken the community.  Imagine a hurricane tearing through your community and school, and leaving in its wake devastation and despair.  Now imagine the students returning to school, shaken but finding a classroom ready for learning.  This is not a fluke; it is a result of consistent and practiced school-wide procedures.

FEBRUARY 2003—How to Retain New Teachers (
Key Idea: Teacher Induction is A Multi-Year Commitment. 
Retain new teachers by implementing a new teacher induction program.  Induction is a multi-year investment in your new teachers’ career, and in your school/district’s ability to retain top talent.  Induction is a process that includes a variety of career building activities, from courses in classroom management practices to how to integrate effective strategies within a lesson plan.  Learn the components of a successful induction program, and read examples of three commendable induction programs.  Model your approach after these fine examples and watch as your retention rates rise to unprecedented levels.

MARCH 2003—First Day of School Script (
Key Idea: First Day of School Scripts Work.
 This column provides further proof that first day scripts put teachers on the road to success.  This article shares Melissa Pantoja’s Daily Class Routine for the Substitute and John Schmidt’s First Day Script, Procedures, and Class policies.  Utilize these exceptional works to guide your creation of a First Day Script and lists of your own procedures that will guide your class to success from day one.

APRIL 2003—The Effective Substitute Teacher (
Key Idea: Effective Substitutes Employ Effective Practices.
  Prepare in advance for your next substitute teaching adventure.  Learn how to create a Sub Pack and what materials it should include.  Print a copy of the Professional Substitute Teachers’ Checklist and use it to organize your daily routine and prepare for your next subbing job.  Peruse the many helpful substitute teacher links and gather as many additional hints that you can glean from these valuable resources.

MAY 2003-Applying for A Teaching Job in A Tight Market, Part 1 (
Key Idea: Actions that Guarantee Interview Success.
 This article teaches the actions that guarantee a successful interview.  There are two critical questions you should ask at your interview.  In this article, we discuss the first question, “Does your district have a new teacher induction program?”  Review the hints contained in this article as you prepare for your teaching interview and get ready to ‘wow’ the interviewer.

JUNE - JULY 2003—Applying for A Teaching Job in A Tight Market, Part 2 (
Key Idea: The Value of Curriculum and Standards Guides.
  This article answers the second question all teachers should ask when they interview for a position, “Does the district have a curriculum guide that is aligned to state standards?”  Understanding the state standards and implementing them in a classroom is hard enough, but to do so without a curriculum guide is suicide.  Be sure that the school you choose has a set curriculum for each grade, and that it aligns with the state standards.  As a bonus, included are end-of-the-year procedures.  Use them to guide you toward a stress-free summer vacation and new school year.

AUGUST 2003—How to Start A Lesson Plan (
Key Idea: Creating Effective Lesson Plans.  
Discover how to begin lesson planning when there is no curriculum guide to steer you.  Many districts do not have curriculum guides, and most teachers do not leave behind collections of curriculum and activities to assist a beginning teacher.  Follow the Steps to Creating an Effective Assignment and begin your lesson planning with confidence.

FEBRUARY 2004—The Effective Teacher Adapts (
Key Idea: Getting Out of Survival Mode.
 This article explores the realities of survival mode, and explains how to move beyond survival to mastery.  If you are in survival mode, you must read this article.  It contains wisdom that will help you to become the teacher you always dreamed you would be.  The article also contains an innovative adaptation of the Tote Tray System.  We invite you to explore and adapt this method for use in your own classroom.

MARCH 2004—A Well-Oiled Learning Machine (
Key Idea: Classroom Management in the Diverse Classroom.
  This article features the classroom management plan of Nathan Gibbs, which has turned his class into a well-oiled machine.  Consistent classroom management will even make the most behaviorally challenged child take note and perform his best.  Adapt the procedures you find in this article to meet the needs of your learning community.

APRIL 2004—What to Do When They Complain (
Key Idea: Respond to Complaints the Right Way.
 This article highlights the proper response to complaints and presents further examples of Nathan Gibbs’ procedures that you can modify for use in your classroom.  In every group there will be at least one person who complains; this includes any given group of students.  We share insight into how to deal with those complaints without becoming upset, and how to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills at the same time!  Try the complaint procedure, and see how it changes the dynamics in your classroom.

MAY 2004—His Students are All Certified
Key Idea: Effective Classroom Management is Universal.
  Classroom management procedures are universal and can be used to create a successful learning environment from Pre-K to Technical College and beyond.  The career changing management and teaching strategies of Jeff Smith are featured.  His is a story of both teacher and student success.

AUGUST 2004—How to Help Students With Their Assignments (
Key Idea: Provide Students With an Agenda.  After teaching for over ten years, Carol Brooks, a middle school teacher in South Carolina, came up with a solution to the problem of student organization.  In time, her classes of underachieving students were doing so well that the parents, who didn’t even know what she was doing, were “screaming” “Get my kid into that notebook class!”  Carol’s one-page agenda is shared.

SEPTEMBER 2004—How Procedures Saved a Teacher’s Life (
Key Idea: Be Prepared for an Emergency.  Heather Chambers, who teaches kindergarten in Denton, Texas, had a diabetic seizure and collapsed in class.  Because of her health condition, Chambers developed a very simple, but highly effective procedure for her class in case she had a seizure.  In deed, she had a seizure and because her class knew the procedure of what to do, they saved her life.

OCTOBER 2004—The Saints of Education

Key Idea: The Need for Structure.  The demands on the teachers of special education students are enormous.  The work is emotionally and physically draining.  The stress is considerable.  The magnitude of the workload is colossal.  Yet, there are some who do well and are truly the “saints of education.  Typical of these teachers is Robin Zarzour who works with children with a variety of disabilities—Autism, speech and language delays, ADHD, severe behavior, and with physical and developmental handicaps.

NOVEMBER 2004—PowerPoint Procedures
Key Idea: Present Procedures in PowerPoint.
  Some teachers duplicate pages and distribute them to students.  Some teachers make charts and attach them to the walls.  Some teachers make overlays and display them with a projector.  And Kazim Cicek in Tulsa, Oklahoma, communicates his classroom management procedures to his classes with a PowerPoint presentation.

JANAURY 2005—The First Ten Days of School (
Key Idea: It’s All in How You Begin. 
Jane Slovenske’s success with her students begins on the very first day of school.  She spends the first ten days of school teaching and reinforcing those behaviors and standards her students will need to succeed in her classroom.  Jane shares what she teaches on the first ten days of school.

FEBRUARY 2005—The Power of Procedures (
Key Idea: 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.  Chelonnda Seroyer, a first year teacher, had not even entered the classroom yet.  The first minute of her first year as a new teacher had not begun.  Standing at the door dressed in a suit, she was greeting her students when she had this eerie feeling.  She turned to look in her classroom and the students had already started working on the assignment.  Yes!  She was now confident that this was going to be a good day.  It turned out to be a great year.  Learn what she did.

March 2005—His Classroom is a Real Life Office (
Key Idea: Don’t Leave the Profession.
  Ed Lucero was miserable!  He thought about leaving the teaching profession.  He decided to give it one more try, but knew he had to make some radical changes.  He restructured his classes to be more business like.  This corresponded with the classes that he was teaching—Business, Marketing, and Finance.  It worked and he loves teaching again.

April 2005—Never Cease to Learn
Key Idea: Effective Teachers Go to Conventions to Learn.
  Never, never cease to learn.  Go to at least one conference a year.  Conferences are very easy to understand.  This column explains how conferences are structured.  Go and listen to the professional attitude of successful teachers.  They are all participating, contributing, and doing.  Everyone is doing and not complaining.  It is heart-warming and contagious.  You go back to school fully charged with a positive attitude and proud that you are a teacher.

May 2005—Improving Student Achievement is Simple, Part 1 (
Key Idea: It’s the Teacher.
  It’s the teacher – what the teacher knows and what the teacher does in the classroom -- that results in student learning.  Improving student achievement is very simple.  It’s the teacher and how the teacher instructs.  When teacher instruction is effective, you will see improved student learning.  In fact, the most effective teachers produce as much as six times the learning gains as the least effective teachers.

June 2005—Improving Student Achievement is Simple, Part 2 (
Key Idea: It’s Still the Teacher. 
It is the teacher who holds the key to student achievement.  And, it is the district that holds the key to lifelong professional development of teachers.  Everything the district does should focus on student learning.  And training teachers to become the best teachers possible must become the priority for a district.  The students deserve no less than the very best teacher—every year.

AUGUST 2005The Most Important Factor

Key Idea: Morning Routine.  A high performing school has a culture of consistency that must be established the first day and first week of school.  See how an elementary school establishes a culture of consistency every morning with a morning routine on the playground.  They do this with a staff that works together in a professional learning community.

SEPTEMBER 2005—A Successful First Day Is No Secret

Key Idea: It’s All in How Your Start.  On the first day of school, Elise brought in a roll of toilet paper for a fun activity.  She left teaching after two days.  Sarah Jondahl came to school on the first day of school with a binder complete with a management plan.  Today Sarah is an accomplished fifth-year teacher.  Sarah’s classroom management action plan is the heart of the eLearning course featured on the web site

OCTOBER 2005—Classroom Management Is Not Discipline
Key Idea: The Difference Between Management and Discipline.  Ineffective teachers discipline their classes with rules and punishments.  Effective teachers manage their classrooms with procedures and routines and the joy of a productive working environment.  It’s never too late to implement classroom management techniques in your classroom.  Alternative certification teacher Diana Greenhouse shares how she has set up her classroom for student success.

NOVEMBER 2005—The Emergency Teacher
Key Idea: Trials of a First Year Teacher.  Without certification or training—an “emergency teacher”—Christina Asquith is hired on the spot and (unknowingly) assigned to the classroom that few veteran teachers would take—sixth grade in the city’s oldest school building, in a crime-infested neighborhood known as The Badlands.  Christina asks the two classic questions: Why are American inner-city public schools failing?  And can one young, motivated person make a difference?  Her story reminds us all to stay steadfast to our dreams of helping children.

DECEMBER 2005/JANUARY 2006—Fifty Years Ago Today, the Legacy (
Key Idea: Rosa Parks.  Effective teachers know that the rewards go only to the professionals.  They are the happiest, make the most money, get the most respect, and are the most successful.  Professionals have arrived at this happy state in life because they build on strengths, not on weaknesses.  The professional educator chooses to always learn and grow.  The professional educator is on an endless journey; looking for new and better ideas, new information, and improved skills to further student success.

FEBRUARY 2006—What Teachers Have Accomplished

Key Idea: Teacher Accomplishments.  Given the staggering statistics children face each day, our job as a teacher is unchanging.  Homeless, neglected, abused, malnourished, impoverished children—we welcome them all into the classroom and nurture them, love them, and teach them.  You, the teacher, make the difference in the lives of children and we say, “Thank you.”

MARCH 2006—The Success of Special Ed Teachers

Key Idea: Three Special Ed Teachers.  The demands on the teachers of special education students are enormous and the rewards are equally enormous.  These are the wonderful teachers who have the skill to bring order and structure to the lives of their students and who have the kind and understanding hearts to see all children as capable and worthy.  In this column, we will revisit with Robin Zarzour and also with two other special education teachers, Charlotte Empringham of Canada, and Dan Seufert of North Carolina.

APRIL 2006—They're Eager to Do the Assignments

Key Idea: Standards and Objectives, Elementary.  If students know what they are to learn, you increase the chances that the students will learn.  This is how Julie Johnson does it:  1. She decides what she wants her students to learn; 2. She shows them what they are to learn; 3. They practice or do the assignment on what they are to learn; and 4. They are tested on what they know they are to learn.  Julie says, “There are no secrets as to what is expected of them.  When I do this they all succeed.”

MAY 2006—An Alternative Certification First Year Teacher

Key Idea: Standards and Objectives, High School.  Many teachers begin teaching without a clear lesson plan format or an operational curriculum.  Even fewer receive curricula that are aligned with state standards.  Norm Dannen is presently in the New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey, a program for people seeking an alternative route to teaching.  They give their teachers in training a template to use as a lesson plan format.  Norm created a 15-day unit to have students interpret The Great Gatsby artistically, thematically, and historically.  He shares his rubric with you in this article.

AUGUST 2006—Effective Teachers Are Proactive
Key Idea: Creating a Classroom Community.
  Effective teachers have a plan to prevent problems.  Then they proactively work the plan.  Barbara De Santis is ready and organized from the first day of school.  She has a Classroom Management Plan.  She builds a Classroom Community by teaching her students to respect and celebrate the success of others.  Learn more about Barbara’s plan and why thinking like Gumby, Darwin, and Disney helps her.

SEPTEMBER 2006—A 92 Percent Homework Turn-in Rate
Key Idea: Use of a Personal Responsibility Card.
  Two effective teachers, Chelonnda Seroyer and Barbara De Santis, share how they use Pink Slips to improve homework turn-in rates.  Find out who they “stole” the idea from and how they each made it their own.  Plus, tips on how to improve your homework turn-in rate and a few procedures for orchestrating homework for maximum effectiveness.  Remember, effective teachers never cease to learn, especially from each other.

OCTOBER 2006—Assessing Student Progress with a Rubric
Key Idea: Give Students a Scoring Guide. 
The role of the teacher is not to grade a student.  The teacher’s main role is to help every student reach the highest possible level of achievement.  The purpose of a test should be to assess what the student has learned so that further learning can be planned.  Read how Norm Damen’s rubric helps to engage his students while assessing what they learn.  The tone of your classroom will change when the students see that you are there to help them progress through the year.

NOVEMBER 2006—How to Write a Rubric
Key Idea: Steps to Writing a Rubric.
  Give students a rubric before each assignment.  Structure each lesson so that the students know beforehand what they are to accomplish.  Decide what factors you are looking for as this will tell you if students have learned what you want them to learn.  Oretha Ferguson’s prose poetry rubric is model shared.  And her success goes way beyond a single lesson.  Her classroom is structured and organized from day one.

DECEMBER 2006—January 2007–Rubrics in Two College Classes
Key Idea: Rubrics Apply to All Grade Levels.
  Two college professors use rubrics to train future teachers.  Dr. Lena Nuccio-Lee found herself teaching an online class for the first time after Hurricane Katrina left her without a classroom and the majority of her teaching materials.  She used rubrics to make her course a success.  Carla Boone uses rubrics to guide and grade the results of her course for new teachers at the College of Mainland, Texas.  Learn what success follows from using rubrics from these effective teachers.

FEBRUARY 2007—Students Want a Sense of Direction
Key Idea: Constructing Your Own Rubric. 
Kathy Monroe uses a picture rubric to vividly show her students how their work will be evaluated.  Karen Rogers uses short and simple rubrics to guide her science students.  Diana Greenhouse created a rubric using a teacher tool called RubiStar.  All of their rubrics have three parts, involve students in the assignments, and help assess what the students have learned.  Review their rubrics and create your own to foster student and teacher success.

MARCH 2007—Classroom Management Applies to All Teachers
Key Idea: Observe, Reinvent, and Implement Procedures.
  Stacey Allred is a special education teacher who knows that classroom management is applicable to all teachers, regardless of grade level or setting.  The key to becoming a successful classroom manager is to observe procedures practiced by other effective teachers.  Then reinvent their procedures to meet your classroom needs.  Finally, you must practice your procedures with your class.  Specific examples from various effective classroom managers are shared.

APRIL 2007—How to Train, Retain, and Sustain Effective Teachers
Key Idea: Generation Y and the Success of Induction Programs.
  There is a new generation entering the teaching profession.  The Millennials are a generation poised to be lifelong learners and collaborators.  They are team-based learners and thrive on collaboration.  To meet the needs of this new generation entering the profession, induction programs focus on a group approach.  Learn from Dr. Linda Lippman and others about their successful programs for the Millennial teacher.

MAY 2007—Effective Teachers End the Year Successfully
Key Idea: Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. 
Beth Sommers knows that an ounce of preparation can save a ton of time and trouble.  She spent the summer before her first year as a classroom teacher preparing herself and her classroom for the first days of school.  Beth made contact with her students and their parents before the school year began.  She greeted her students with an impressive PowerPoint presentation, which she later shared with her students’ parents.  View Beth’s PowerPoint presentation and learn how she was a successful first year teacher from start to finish.

It’s Not the Grade Level or Academic Area

This summer, browse through our seven years of columns and you will note that all successful teachers transcend their grade level or academic area.

As we look over the seven years of articles, there are two recurrent themes:

Effective teachers can implement.  Effective teachers have the ability to implement someone else’s work, regardless of their grade level, subject matter, or even professional field.  They are able to steal the work, change it to fit their own situation, and use it in their classroom.  Effective teachers don’t need articles specific to their grade level or subject.

Effective teachers are proactive.  Effective teachers have learned how to prevent problems, rather than react to problems.  They are proactive and not reactive.  Reactive teachers blame the school or neighborhood environment, or want specific punishments or consequences.  We answer, “You don’t ‘do something’ to someone.”  Rather, you proactively have a classroom management plan that prevents problems from occurring.

As you enjoy your summer, please reflect on the successes of the teachers and administrators we have chronicled in our seven years of columns.  Know that you can succeed just as easily.

Our August column will kick off the new school year.
We’ll share how two teachers in an urban setting
start the year with a classroom management plan.

Start planning your plan now.  You have the summer to steal from these articles and create a classroom where the students are responsible and the classroom hums with learning.

As the school year progresses, tweak and work your plan.  We’d love to hear about your successes and, with your permission, share what you do with others.

May the summer be one of rejuvenation for you and your classroom.

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