May 2024
Vol 21 No 5

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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.

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 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.

Their latest contribution to helping teachers succeed is an eLearning course on Classroom Management.

1. The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience.

2. The outcome of the course is
a 2 inch binder with your own
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 2.5 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 with Harry Wong LIVE, speaking on How To Improve Student Achievement, 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, 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
$18.30 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

$23.07 from
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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

$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
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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

$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

September 2005

A Successful First Day Is No Secret

This example is so incredulous that you may think it’s fiction.  It’s not.  It is a true situation.

Elise, a new teacher on her first day of school, brought in a roll of toilet paper.  Everyone took as much as they wanted without knowing what the assignment was.  She kept it a "juicy little secret!"  Then, they had to tell one thing about themselves for each sheet of paper.  What a disaster!

  1. Students started giving "inappropriate" information about themselves.
  2. The self proclaimed "class clown" that took almost 25 sheets had to
    make up 25 silly things to say!
  3. The terribly shy student had to suffer through making up 5 things.

What a mistaken use of valuable class time.  The classroom collapsed.  Needless to say, she was miserable and left teaching after two days and is a telemarketer today.

Classroom Management with Procedures

Chelonnda Seroyer, a teacher in Madison, Alabama, went to the same college, took many of the same courses, and began teaching at the same time as Elise.  However, Chelonnda was successful on her first day of school and is recognized today, after only two years of teaching, as an exceptional teacher.

On her first day of school, Chelonnda was standing at her door, dressed professionally, greeting her students.  Her friendly smile and firm handshake hid the fear and anxiety she felt, wondering what her first class and her first day as a teacher would be like.

Shaking internally, Chelonnda nonetheless had a strange premonition.  She turned to look into her room and breathed a sigh of relief.  All of the students were at their desks at work – and the bell had not even rung to begin the first second of Chelonnda’s career as a teacher.

Chelonnda can tell you the answer to her success in one word, Procedures She further explains, “My students enjoy having a predictable environment.  They feel safe because they know exactly what to expect each day.  They like consistency in a world that can be very inconsistent.  Procedures are simple, but their impact is enormous.”  Chelonnda’s procedures can be seen at and on

It's All in How You Start

Classrooms are managed with procedures and routines.  Students readily accept a uniform set of classroom procedures because it simplifies their task in succeeding in school.  Efficient and workable procedures allow many activities to take place with a minimum amount of confusion and wasted time.  Procedures help a teacher to structure and organize a classroom for maximum engaged learning time.

The first day of school is the most important day of the school year.  If you start the first day of school incorrectly, you may never recover for the rest of the year.  Effective teachers know how to begin the first day of school and maximize use of class time for learning.

Your first priority when class begins is not to take the roll; it is to get the students to work.  An assignment must be available, and the students must know the procedure for getting to work immediately.  Do not destroy prime time with non-prime time activities such as taking the attendance, making announcements, answering questions, or collecting papers.

Have an assignment ready on the board written in the same place every day.  Some teachers call this “bellwork,” because at the sound of the bell, work must begin.  Teach your students to enter the classroom quietly and start immediately on the bellwork.  Or choose some other activity to start each day.  The important thing is to get the students working immediately.

Classroom Management Plan in a Binder

Have you ever seen the reality show, "Super Nanny?"  A "Super Nanny" goes into a disrupted home with misbehaving children and she sets up a consistent routine that solves the problems.  Her major message is CONSISTENCY!

Sarah Jondahl, a teacher in California, was ready the first day of her teaching career with a specific, consistent classroom management action plan in a binder.  Although the binder took months of work to compile, her plan resulted in her success from her very first minute of her teaching career.

Sarah’s plan includes a letter she sends to her students prior to the first day.  It tells a little about her background and sets her students’ expectations for lots of work and learning.  It also has the class’s first homework assignment.

She scripted or planned each activity the first day of school as follows:

Greet each student at the door

  • Direct them toward their assigned seats (alphabetical)
  • Tell child to read and follow the instructions written on the board – the bellwork
  • Introduce myself
  • Teach classroom procedures
  • Teach classroom rules, consequences, and rewards
  • Communicate the expectations of the classroom

The key words in real estate are location, location, location. In education the three key words for maximizing learning time are PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE.

The two major problems in a classroom are movement and noise.  Sarah had these solved on her first day of school.  She planned out exactly how her students were to enter the classroom in the morning, come in from recess, line up to leave the classroom, get ready for lunch, walk in the halls, and get ready for dismissal.

Maximizing Learning Time

Today Sarah Jondahl is an accomplished fifth-year teacher.  She says, “My classroom management plan is based on establishing procedures I learned from the book, The First Days of School.  Having procedures in place from day one and teaching my students about these procedures made the educational experience in my classroom extremely effective.”

Teachers like Sarah Jondahl will succeed in any kind of a school, because it truly makes no difference whether you teach in a public, private, or charter school, whether your school is traditional or year-round, or whether your students are urban or rural.  All effective teachers have procedures to assist in managing a classroom and maximize learning time.

Sarah Jondahl had procedures and routines ready for her to teach on the first day and first week of school, such as:

Entering the Classroom

Students enter the classroom quietly and calmly, put their belongings away quickly according to the morning routine, and do the bellwork.

Bell work

Each morning there is a bell work assignment on the board or overhead projector.  Students enter the classroom and get started on the assignment.

Quieting the Class

I raise my hand to quiet the class.

Taking Class Roll

A student is taught the procedure of how to be the “Attendance Keeper.”  This student places an “Absent” folder on that desk of the student who is absent. I can then glance around the room quickly and know who is absent.

Class Motto

Every morning the class says the classroom motto, which is posted on the wall in the front of the room.  Everyone stands and says the motto together to start off our day.

Collecting Seat Work

Work is collected according to the configuration of the desks.  If the desks are arranged in rows, students collect their seatwork by passing the papers across their rows.  Students seated at tables collect their work by placing their finished papers in the middle of their table.  The student whose job is to collect papers walks around the room and picks up each table’s stack of papers and puts them in the finished work basket at the front of the room.

Turning in Work

There are two baskets placed in the front of the room.  One basket is labeled “class work” and the other is labeled “homework.”  Children place their work in the appropriate basket.

Notes From Home

Students place any notes from home in the basket labeled “Notes from Home.”

Restroom Breaks

Individual students are allowed to go to the bathroom four times a month without having a tally pulled.  They use their daily agendas as their pass and have the teacher sign and date when they are going.  Only one student may use the restroom at a time.  Students are excused as a class to go to the restroom during lunch and recess.

Going to Lunch

Students make two lines by the outside door, one for “home lunches” and one for “school lunches.”  The students buying their lunches line up in alphabetical order.  Students are picked up after lunch on the blacktop as they wait in the area of their classroom number.  (Numbers are painted on the blacktop.)


Students follow the cafeteria procedures as well as the classroom rules.  Students clean up their sitting area after they are done.  Students should be on their best behavior by using “Please” and "Thank You.”

Working in Cooperative Groups
Students are placed in teacher chosen groups at all times.  They are reminded of the procedure for Support Groups.
    1. You are responsible for your own work.
    2. You are to ask a “support buddy” for help if you have a question.
    3. You must help if you are asked for help.
    4. You may ask for help from the teacher when the group agrees on the same question.
Picking Monitors

Students are chosen to do things in class by picking a Popsicle stick from the can labeled “Pick a Stick.”  Each student’s name is written on the bottom end of a Popsicle stick and the sticks are all placed in a can.  The teacher draws a stick in order to pick students for a variety of things.

Pinning Up Class Work

Students pin up their work on the clothesline in the front of the classroom.  Whenever an activity that requires glue or paint is completed, the clothesline is used to hang the paper to dry.  At the end of the day the students remove their dried papers and stack them in the “Class Work” basket.

Keeping the Noise Level Down

A traffic signal is used to remind the students of the noise level for the classroom.  A large cutout stoplight is hung in the front of the room with three black circles and a hook on each circle.  Green, yellow, and red circles have been cut to fit over the black circle.  The red circle is hung from its hook to indicate silent time, the yellow circle for whisper time, and the green circle for talk freely time.

Classical music is played during class time. Children keep their noise levels lower than the sound of the music.

Sending Notes Home

Notes to go home to parents at the end of the day are placed in the cubbies.  This is the cubby keeper’s job to do.  Students are responsible for sharing all of the notes with parents each evening.

When a Student Is Absent

When a student is absent, an absent folder with a yellow sticker is placed on that student’s desk.  Copies of all papers passed out during class or any notes that need to go home are placed inside the folder.  When the student comes back to school he/she knows to complete the missed work in the yellow folder.  The absent work is placed on the shelf in the front office of the school for parents to pick up after 3:00 p.m.

Changing Groups/Transitions

The teacher gives a verbal announcement of five minutes left before changing centers, lessons, activities, etc.  When it is time to change, a variety of methods are used.

    1. Play music
    2. Snap/clap rhythm pattern led by teacher
    3. A bell is rung

Students know what these different signals mean and make the change quickly and quietly.

If the Teacher Is Out of the Classroom

Students remain on task while the teacher is out of the room. Classroom rules and procedures are followed as they continue their work. The classroom aide or a teacher next door is available for help if needed.

Daily Closing Message

At the end of the day the class reads the daily closing message, a short summary of the day’s events.  One child is chosen to read this message to the class as everyone else follows along.  The daily closing message is prepared during the day by the teacher and then photocopied for each student to share with their parents that evening.  This communication tool is a great way for teachers to keep parents aware of upcoming events, important information, and the children’s day in school.

Saying “Thank You.”

At all times remember to say thank you to one another.  Along with thank you, “please” should also be used at all times.

End of Class Dismissal

The bell does not dismiss the class; I dismiss the class.  Students are dismissed when called upon, either individually or by groups.


Students follow the school’s rules and classroom’s procedures even when riding in vehicles on school outings.  When walking to or from the bus or car, the procedures for the halls are followed.  Students stay seated while on the bus or in the car and respect the property.  Seat belts are worn at all times.  Low voices are always used in the vehicle.  There is no eating in the car or bus unless the driver says it’s okay.

eLearning Classroom Management

Sarah’s classroom management action plan is the heart of the eLearning course featured on the web site

The purpose of the course is to teach teachers how to structure and organize a classroom for maximum engaged learning time.

The eLearning course, designed to help you produce a Classroom Management Action Plan

  1. can be taken on demand, at school or at home;
  2. is an interactive course. It is not a talking head lecture course so common with many online classes—boring and a giant step backwards in modeling how teaching should be done; and
  3. the end result is a two-inch binder with a teacher’s personal
    Classroom Management Action Plan.

This eLearning course is the most advanced and exciting one produced for educators.  It is unlike and far beyond any eLearning or distance learning course you have seen or experienced.  The graphics, style, and quality of the production will amaze you.

More importantly, it will help a teacher to produce his or her own personal classroom management action plan for student and teacher success.

For a printable version of this article click here.

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