February 2024
Vol 21 No 2

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About Harry and Rosemary Wong...
Harry and Rosemary Wong are teachers. Harry is a native of San Francisco and taught middle school and high school science. Rosemary is a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school media coordinator and student activity director.

Harry Wong has been awarded the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal. Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.

Harry Wong is the most sought after speaker in education today. He has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense, user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success.

More than a half-million teachers worldwide have heard his message. Because he is fully booked for two years, he has agreed to and has invited his wife to join him in doing a monthly column for Teachers.Net so that more people can hear their message.

About Their Work... Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to bringing quality and dignity to the materials they produce. For this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO. They have dedicated their lives to leaving a legacy in education and making a difference in the lives of teachers and students.

The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 2.4 million copies have been sold.

A third edition of The First Days of School has been released and includes an added bonus, an Enhanced CD featuring Harry Wong. The Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn, is dedicated to those teachers who know that the more they learn, the more effective they become.

The Wongs have also produced the video series The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award in the International Film and Video Festival.

They have released a new set of CDs, How To Improve Student Achievement, featuring Harry Wong as he speaks at one of his many presentations. He is the most sought after speaker in education and his presentations are legendary.

When the book, video series, and CD are used together, they form the most effective staff training tool for developing effective teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction:  How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers. Information about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website at or Best Sellers

The First Days of School
by Harry & Rosemary Wong

$23.96 from
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New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
by Annette L. Breaux, Harry K. Wong

$23.07 from
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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 VHS video tapes, binder with Facilitator's Handbook, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $795.00 from (volume discounts available)
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New Item

How to Improve Student Achievement
2 CD set
by Harry & Rosemary Wong

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

$12.57 from
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Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

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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)

$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

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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

September 2004

How Procedures Saved a Teacher's Life

If you lost consciousness and passed out while teaching your class, would your students—your kindergarten students—know what to do?  Heather Chambers’ kindergarten students saved her life.

Heather Chambers, who teaches kindergarten in Denton, Texas, had a diabetic seizure and collapsed in class.  She describes, “Nothing compares to what happened on Friday.  You see, I'm almost 7 months pregnant and was taking four insulin shots a day to treat gestational diabetes.”

Because her class knew the procedure of what to do, they saved her life.  Chambers already had great success with the procedures she used in her first year as a kindergarten teacher, however, as a result of hearing us (Harry) during the subsequent summer, she chose to implement additional procedures in her second year that ended up saving her life—literally!

Because of her health condition, Chambers developed a very simple, but highly effective procedure for her class in case she had a seizure.

She explained her diabetic condition and insulin treatment to her class.  She said there was a small possibility that "Mrs. Chambers could fall down and be so sound asleep that you won't be able to wake me."  She told them not to be afraid and that people would come to help her if they would remember to do what she was about to teach them.

First, she assigned one of her most calm students to go immediately to the nurse, if she had a seizure.  She also assigned another student as a back-up.

She assigned another student to go next door to Mr. Williams’ room (another kindergarten teacher) and tell him that Mrs. Chambers needed help.  She assigned a back-up student here, too.

She told the rest of the class that it was their job to watch over her until help came.  To do this they were instructed to sit quietly on their circle time carpet, criss-cross applesauce with their hands in their laps.

Periodically, she would remind them of this procedure and the class would verbally go over what they would do.

Chambers says, “On January 17th, I was standing in front of my short filing cabinet, when I passed out.  On the way down, I cut my forehead open and began bleeding badly.  When I landed, I began to have a seizure.  The student that was assigned to go to the nurse momentarily froze.  Another student very quickly reminded her of her job and off she went, as did the other child to Mr. Williams class.

“When the nurse arrived in my room, she said it was perfectly quiet; all of my students were sitting, as taught, on the rug.  I had stopped breathing by this time and my eyes were wide open with fixed and dilated pupils.  She had the class removed quickly and began to bring me back.  My pulse was beginning to weaken.

“It amazes me that for children so young, they were able to follow procedures to almost perfection.  They didn't have to figure out what to do.  I didn't have to be conscious to tell them what to do; they already knew.  The procedure was there to guide them, because Lord knows I wasn't the one leading them that day.  They saved my life and that of my unborn child.  They were that well-oiled machine that you explained to us this summer.

“Classroom procedures saved my life.”

Chambers’ First Day of School

Heather Chambers begins her fourth year of teaching this year. Here are the procedures she will teach on the first day of school.

My First Day of School
Day One
Classroom Management


  • How to come into class and start the day
  • Learning station procedures
  • Computer and listening center procedures
  • Love and Logic

Teach and Practice

  • Restroom and drink procedures
  • Line-up and hallway procedures
  • 1,2,3 Look-At-Me
  • Cafeteria procedures
  • Playground procedures
  • Cleaning the classroom for the next day procedures

Instructional Program

  • Social Studies:  Introduction to School: finding our way around the classroom and the school
  • Reading (Aloud)Miss Bindergarten Goes to Kindergarten, David Goes to School, No David!
  • Writing:  Learning to write our first name practice
  • Mathematics:  Calendar Math and working with 0-5
  • Learning Stations:  Puzzles, Alphabet Bingo, Home Living, Block Play, Listening Center

Do You Have Emergency Procedures?

If you think that Heather Chambers’ story could not happen to you, think again.

As this column is being written, Hurricane Charley hit Florida, the worst hurricane to hit Florida in 12 years and the worst to hit the west coast of Florida in over a century.

Weather problems are a natural phenomenon, whether it is a snowstorm, tornado, hurricane, or earthquake.  We also live in an era of potential terrorist attacks, increased violence on campuses from outside sources, and kidnappings.  Our best defense for any of these situations is training teachers and students in emergency procedures.  We also live in a litigious climate that subjects us to lawsuits should children become injured, killed, or unaccounted for.

September is the perfect month for teaching and/or reminding students of safety procedures for situations such as a lockdown, fire, or earthquake, how to use the crosswalk, waiting on the curb for bus pickup, and coming to school and returning home.  In many states, teachers are required to teach safety procedures.  They are to be documented in a teacher’s lesson plan book and could be used later in case of an accident.  Lesson plan and grade books are considered legal documents by the court.  There was a time when a teacher taught safety just because you cared about kids.  Now, it can protect a teacher in a lawsuit.

To prepare for an emergency, at South Grand Prairie High School in Texas, administrators regularly practice their lockdown procedures.

Teachers have informed their classes of the procedures and have rehearsed these with their students.  The lockdown drill provides an opportunity to evaluate procedures.  For instance, administrators discovered that students in the theater were not able to hear the announcement on the public address system.

Thus, the administrator responsible for sweeping that part of the building now knows to check the theater to see if students are present.

School administrators have an evacuation plan that accounts for every student, even if a particular student is not in the classroom.  If a crisis occurs during lunchtime or a passing period, administrators can account for all students.

They’ve identified locations on campus that personnel can go in case of biological and chemical emergencies.  The school mails a letter to parents to remind them to review the emergency procedures at home as well.

Each classroom houses a customized folder with everything the teachers might need, from pens to a highlighted escape route.  There's also a roster with the name of every student who takes classes in those rooms.  Emergency duffel bags with bullhorns, flashlights, maps, and first-aid kits are placed throughout the school.

The staff and the students are trained in case an emergency arises.

Laurie Jay, a teacher in Saskatoon, Canada, has her class roster affixed next to the doorjamb so that as she leaves the room with her class, all she or a substitute teacher has to do, is reach up for the class roster and have a list immediately handy to take the class roll.

In California, classrooms routinely practice “duck and cover” drills.  In case of earthquake or terrorist attack, all a teacher has to do is call out “duck” and every child knows what to do instantly.

A Generation of Threats

While some contend that all of the procedures for the violence in nature and society being taught create a level of stress and anxiety in students, we are reminded that it is our responsibility to create a safe and caring environment.  Effective teachers and schools have a worst-case scenario handbook with procedures rehearsed and ready for implementation.

The handbook should have a simple plan, and it should be in every classroom.  Security experts say the plan should include classroom and building evacuation procedures and a list of whom to contact in an emergency and instructions for dealing with a multitude of situations.  It should involve the entire school, custodians, students, nurses, volunteers, cafeteria workers—anyone who is regularly on campus.

If your school does not have such a plan, talk it over with your administrator and suggest the beginning of one.  And, what are you doing in your classroom that addresses life-threatening situations?  We have received many letters that state, “Procedures saved my life!”  While it’s meant in a figurative sense, in the case of Heather Chambers, procedures really did save her life.

Procedures bring order to chaos, logic to confusion, and care to anxiety.  They are our best defense in these troubling times.  Do your part and prepare yourself and your students.  Procedures can and DO save lives!

For a printable version of this article click here.

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