by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Special to the Gazette
Love, Marriage, and Babies, Oh My!
It’s most unfortunate that 16 percent of new teachers and up to 50
percent of these same teachers will drop out of teaching by their fifth year in education. If only someone had taught them how to manage a classroom, they would be a flying success today
This is the story of two, successful, new teachers who will be in the profession for a long, long time.
Cristina Bianchiwas on maternity leave January/February of the 2014–2015 school year. The classroom procedures had been taught at the start of the school year, and she left the substitute teacher a manual on how the class was organized with procedures. She kept in contact by email and text with the sub during her time away from the classroom.
When Cristina returned, she simply had the class practice some of the procedures to reestablish them, and the class sailed along as if she had never been away. She says, “Middle schoolers don’t like surprises. I find that transparency works best with them.”
She acknowledges that her first years of teaching were successful because she spent time building a solid, classroom foundation with an organized structure.
She identifies the two items that created the solid, classroom structure:
Having proper classroom management and procedures
Having the knowledge and skills to use the curriculum to meet the student’s instructional needs
Consistency in Cristina’s First Five Minutes
The structure she built created a culture of consistency where the students all knew what was happening each day—no matter who was leading the class.
Each day, I greet my students at the door as they are walking into the room. I have found that this is the best time for me to address their non-classroom-related concerns, rather than it being done during instructional time.
Upon entering the classroom, the students read our Do Now Board, which always has our daily task and any materials they may need to pick up at the front work bench. They also complete their task and/or lab notebook and take out all supplies needed for class—lab notebook, writing utensil, homework, etc. During this time, I am taking attendance.
Everything in the classroom has a procedure and the students know how to carry out our daily tasks within the first five minutes. Having a consistent, orderly system and procedures in place has really helped my students to focus on learning for the day!
We met Cristina Bianchi when she was one of the teachers in the room at our Providence School District New Teacher Induction Program presentation. We spoke on classroom management and teaching for mastery. Shortly after the school year began, she sent pictures of her classroom.
You can see why she is successful.
Connection – Cristina establishes a connection with her students with an “All About Me” classroom display.
Preparation – Cristina is prepared and organized and teaches her students to be organized in their work, too.
Do Now – There is a Do Now assignment ready for the students before they enter the classroom. Before the end of the first five minutes of class, the students are doing the Do Now work.
Daily Agenda – There is an Agenda posted daily to let students see the learning for the class period and what activities they will be doing that day to learn the lesson objectives.
Accountable Talk – Having a system for organized talk minimizes the discourteous replies and comments in a classroom. Cristina teaches the procedure of Accountable Talk. With Accountable Talk, every student has a voice. Reflection on the lesson and sharing their understanding of the lesson is a critical part of learning. Accountable Talk teaches students courtesy and cuts down on inappropriate comments to peers.
Parking Lot – Students create an Exit Ticket and leave them in the Parking Lot as they leave the classroom for the day. The sticky note allows students to reflect on their own learning. Cristina uses them to assess for student learning and student progress. The tickets tell her what she needs to review, what went well, and where to begin the lesson for the next day. The assessment provides a springboard for the next time the class is together.
RACES and TILES are schoolwide acronyms used to guide students to reach the writing and graphing goals for all of the science classes at her school.
RACES for writing science goals:
R - Restate the question in a different way. A - Answer the question clearly and completely. C - Cite your source. Where did your information come from? E - Elaborate; give evidence and examples. S - Summarize your work.
TILES for graphing science goals:
T - Title is meaningful and descriptive. I - Interval is accurate and without gaps. L - Label is on both axes. E - Evidence is depicted. S - Scale is used.
Before either type of assignment is given, Cristina reviews the steps in the acronym. This helps students remember how to keep their work methodical and organized. She says, “Having goals for learning is important, but it’s even more important that the students see you are reinforcing and supporting the school goals through your classroom assignments.”
Class Performance – The RACES and TILES goals are displayed as Class Performance data for scoring and grading purposes as well as monitoring progress.
This poster shows each of Cristina’s science classes’ performances for a given assignment on a scale of 0-4.
All formative assignments given in class support the students’ progress by working on similar skills. The expectation is that students make progress from one summative assignment to the next.
A rubric is used with both types of assignments and is reviewed with the students. The rubric is on a 0–4 point scale, and each point earned is specifically linked to each indicator that they’re being assessed on. Cristina explains the rubric. Then performance is reviewed by students individually and by the teacher as a whole group. Student data folders are maintained, and the students complete their own assessment of their work. This practice makes them aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
Just as Cristina’s class progressed during her maternity leave, they progress each day as they improve in their own learning and achievement. Cristina’s well-managed classroom gives her the opportunity to devote her time to student learning and achievement, by day, and by night, to devote her time to her beautiful new family.
Our best wishes to Janelle Papazian, a brand-new teacher who was married last month. Besides marrying a fantastic partner for life, her good fortune also finds her in the Roosevelt School District in Phoenix, Arizona. The district has a comprehensive, new teacher induction program in their Educator Effectiveness Department. The focus of the Educator Effectiveness Department is to produce effective teachers.
Earlier this year, we wrote in detail about other school districts and their induction programs. Please see the February, March, and April columns to learn more about developing new teachers.
Dreams Do Come True
Janelle dreamed of being a teacher since she was nine years old. She would skip recess and stay inside to help teachers with anything they needed. When she graduated from college, she wrote to four of her teachers and thanked them for inspiring her. She told them she was now a first-grade teacher, and her mission was to inspire her students.
Janelle says, “I believe that with my procedures, organization, 12-hour days, tears, and high expectations, it made my first year of teaching incredible. My procedures were in place so there were no questions. I set high expectations for these seven-year-olds, and they rose to the challenge, giving me enough stories I could write a book. I went over the procedures every day for my first week and then posted them. I also sent them home to their parents so they knew what type of environment their children were in every day.”
Janelle is very organized and has taken photos of her classroom to give you a guided tour of the culture of consistency she has established for her students and herself. Click here to visit her classroom.
Consistency in Janelle’s First Five Minutes
When the school year began, Janelle immediately put the classroom organization in place.
When the bell rings, I stand at the door greeting my students. I say, "Good morning," to each of my students, including the child’s name in the greeting. As students walk in, there is Disney music playing, and the procedures are posted on the board stating these tasks:
Unpack and turn in work
Start morning work
During this time I am documenting attendance and lunch count.
I also watch student behavior. If I see someone looking sad, I make sure I approach the student and say good morning again and ask if everything is okay.
We then listen to announcements.
I have used this opening procedure since Day One of my teaching experience, and it has worked great for my first graders.
Is it any wonder that Janelle says, “My students love their classroom. They are responsible, and I already have second-grade teachers telling me they want my students. I take pride in my students, my accomplishments, and most of all, I take pride in the fact I was told this time last year I would never become a teacher, and that I was not going to graduate college.”
“Now one year later, I am getting compliments from my
administration, parents, and students.”
The Roosevelt School District’s Educator Effectiveness Department saw the potential in Janelle and nurtured and trained her with its induction program. Janelle is destined to live happily ever after in and out of the classroom.
Our nightly television viewing (five hours on average according to a recent poll) is heavily peppered with reality TV shows. From “Survivor” to “Amazing Race,” these shows bring unknowns into the forefront of unscripted, real-life situations and make them stars.
The reality is these shows are not as unscripted as one might think. Very few of the shows are shown live as the action happens. This gives the producers and directors time to edit the content to create the perfect television event.
Your classroom is the ultimate reality show. It airs hundreds of thousands of times, 180 days of the year. There is no producer yelling, “Cut!” There is no director saying, “Take a deep breath and exhale before you say that line.”
You are the Producer, Director, and Star of your classroom. You have the capacity to create the number one classroom of all time. You have the potential to become the teacher all teachers measure themselves up against. You have power to set the trend for what should happen every day in classrooms around the world.
Become the Superstar you were meant to be and walk that red carpet every day you cross the threshold of your classroom.
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 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.