June 2024
Vol 21 No 6

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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
$23.96 from
More information


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)
More information


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
More information


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

$24.05 from
More information


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
More information


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

November 2001

The Effective Teacher Thinks

Kris Halverson is a teacher who lives in northern California. This year she has a change in assignments and writes, "I love being on a new learning curve."

Susie Drazen is associated with a Jewish school in Omaha and says, "My professors in graduate school suggested that we become eclectic teachers -- watching all, and only stealing from the best."

Whenever I (Rosemary) go to a meeting, no matter how seemingly boring or irrelevant the material is, I say to myself,

    "Before the person is even finished explaining his or her technique, I've already figured out how to do it differently or better in my classroom."

The human mind is a magnificent personal computer. In fact, it is the original PC. The effective teacher is always thinking, dreaming, and planning. Your future happiness and career depends on your ability to implement techniques and your capacity to grow with new ideas.

We, also, unfortunately have the teachers who say, "But I can't use your techniques because I teach high school in a private school in Chile," or "My students are not reading up to grade level," or "The buses all arrive at different times, so I can't start the lessons on time."

The effective teacher thinks, reflects, and implements. The effective teacher models what is expected from the students -- the ability to think and solve problems on their own. Effective teachers use their cumulative knowledge to solve problems.

Classroom Management Applies to All

Last month, we featured the classroom management model used by a second grade teacher, Sarah Jones. She taught in a private school last year, but transferred to a public school this year. Her classroom management techniques have remained the same and have operated with the same effectiveness. To say that students in a private school are different is flawed. Two of our four grandchildren attend private schools and they are not different. Children do not like to be treated as if they are different.

Whether a teacher is in a public or private school, charter school, adult education classroom, teacher inservice workshop, or private industry seminar, the techniques remain the same. It makes no difference what the grade level is: kindergarten, fourth grade, high school, or a subject matter: music, foreign language, or physical education.

  1. Effective classrooms start on time.

  2. Students know the classroom procedures.

  3. Teachers understand how to teach for mastery.

  4. Teachers have high expectations for student success.

    All effective classrooms are managed by effective teachers.

Classroom Management in a High School Physical Education Class

Steve Geiman is a high school physical education teacher in Virginia. He heard Harry speak at a conference and like Rosemary, his mind began to twirl. In his own words, he shares the following from his reflection and thinking on his effectiveness as a teacher.

For years, I have heard the complaints of Physical Education teachers. Their classes are not like others. They can't use all of the normal management ideas to teach, and they move all over the place, so their classes can't stay as organized as a regular classroom.

    Physical education teachers can be just as effective in the gym as classroom teachers are in a classroom.

Good classroom management must be an integral part of a physical education program. Physical education is unique but basic management and good planning can create an awesome teaching opportunity!

Years ago I used Harry's ideas to change my health classroom teaching. I started with a few procedures and routines. I created a discipline plan and taught both the procedures and the discipline plan the first days of school. Each year I added new procedures and routines. I adjusted the discipline plan to suit changing needs. The transformation in my classroom was astounding! The class could literally run itself. (For additional examples of this, refer to The First Days of School, pages 11 and 192 and read about high school teachers Richard Crewse and Bob Wall.)

My classroom effectiveness was tremendous but I had not made that transition to the gymnasium. I was still teaching physical education the old way.

Physical Education presented a different set of challenges but I knew after looking at my needs in the gym, a good management plan would create an atmosphere just like the classroom.

I designed procedures and routines and a discipline plan that covered the physical education atmosphere.

In the classroom, students were responsible for coming in class and getting to work immediately. They were given a bell work assignment that was posted in the same place every day.

In the gym, I created the same idea with something called "instant activity." To do this, there needed to be a little more management in place. I bought white boards that were portable and placed them against the gym wall in the same place every day.

On the white board, I posted the "instant activity" assignment as well as the daily plan. When the students come to the gym, they check the white board for the assignment, get dressed, and come out and start the activity immediately. I provide a basket full of equipment and choices for activity.

Every day, in the past, I heard the questions, "Are we doing anything today?" or "What are we doing today?"

Now, everything is posted on the white board and the students know the daily plan from the very beginning of class. They also know that they are responsible for starting to work and that the teacher does not start class.

I meet the students at the gym doors every day for the first two weeks. I greet them and remind them to check the white board for the assignment, get dressed, and to start work immediately. After a week, the repetition takes effect and the procedure becomes an automatic routine.

The class is structured around routines and procedures. These are taught starting the very first day of school and practiced for the first two weeks. Each day I rehearse the procedures until they become automatic. The procedures and routines in the gym are based on my needs to facilitate effective teaching.

There are procedures for

  • Moving from activity to activity

  • Coming to attention

  • Squads

  • Game set-up

  • Selecting teams

  • Absences/make-up

  • Exercises/flexibility

  • Game activity

A procedure is created for whatever needs to be done in the gym to move efficiently and maximize instructional time.

Students need to know up front what is expected. Posting the daily assignments and creating a management plan reduces students' anxiety. The teacher creates an atmosphere that is comfortable and inviting. The students know early on that the class is managed for their maximum learning success.

Before I made the changes in the gym, my classes were difficult. I was working myself to death reminding students every day of things I needed them to do. I did all of the work, setting up games, moving equipment, and handling paperwork. It was exhausting! I did not enjoy physical education, nor did the students.

Since I have implemented the new management plan and made some changes with all-inclusive games and music, participation levels are near 100%!

The students are now responsible for all paper work, equipment, and set-up -- leaders are assigned and activities are much more organized. Classes run themselves and I can teach much more effectively. Students can't wait to get to class!

Because of the success we are having in our health and physical education program, I now conduct seminars for other teachers on classroom effectiveness. I thank Harry Wong for all of the ideas and for helping me make a difference!
        - Steve Geiman

Effective Teaching Is Rewarding

In his 33 years of teaching high school physical education, Steve Geiman has been selected as the high school Teacher of the Year at Wilson Memorial High School in Augusta County, Virginia and the Physical Education Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia.

Steve shares his expertise with other educators in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. He has done workshops for the Virginia Department of Education and taught student teachers at James Madison University and Radford University. His seminars focus on management, motivation, credibility, assessment, grading, effective teaching techniques, lesson planning, and effective teaching.

All his seminars feature extensive handouts, easy to implement ideas, and are broken up with new games and ideas for motivation.

Steve may be reached at 1645 Hermitage Road, Waynesboro, Virginia 22980. His telephone is 540-949-7047 or email him at stevegeiman at (replace "at" with "@").

Please Share With Us

If you are new to these monthly columns, clicking "Gazette Back Issues" at the bottom of the left sidebar will access past columns.

Our goal of writing The Effective Teacher column has been to share the work of effective teachers and schools. Effective teachers don't whine about why they can't do something. Effective teachers seek further information, reflect, process, and implement. We will illustrate this concept next month when we tell you about how a first year teacher manages her library and how an art teacher, who sees a particular class of students once a week, manages her classroom.

We are always most pleased to hear from anyone who would like to share with others and us on the Internet, how you manage your classroom. Please let us hear from you.

Thinking Is Hard Work

It's difficult not to think. The course of recent national events has caused us all to reflect on our lives, our priorities, our sense of purpose. We've had to make choices and in many cases -- life changing choices -- that better reflect our new understandings of ourselves and the world.

    In the worst of times, ordinary people are at their extra-ordinary best.

The process of effective teaching is very much the same soul searching process. Inadequacies gnaw at our inner being; we contemplate the choices; we execute the plan - many times a comfort-changing plan in our professional understandings. But we do all of this to make a positive difference in the life of a child.

We know that, more than ever before, the world needs effective teachers modeling for children the ability to think, solve problems, and become responsible leaders and learners.

Thinking is hard work, but it holds so much promise for your children and the world. Just think about that. . . .

For a printable version of this article click here.

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