– Submitted by Mary Lindenstein, San Marcos High School English teacher
The very readable book The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry Wong caused me to rethink the way I introduce students to my class and my expectations during the very crucial first week of school each year. These are a few of the important steps Dr. Wong advocates taking during the first week of school:
- Always have a “Do Now” activity listed on your board for students to immediately begin upon entering the classroom. This should be a 5 to 10 minute activity and should be clearly described on your board. Dr. Wong states that “Your first priority when the class starts is to get the students to work” (Wong 123), not to take attendance.
- Have a PowerPoint presentation set up on the first day to lead students through your classroom procedures. A procedure is the way you do things in your classroom, from entering and exiting the classroom, to having a pencil sharpened, to passing in papers, to what to do about being tardy. Furthermore, procedures must be practiced until they become a routine. Dr. Wong says, “PROCEDURES are used to have an efficient and orderly classroom so that learning can take place.” Procedures do not include discipline plans, which are necessary but separate from classroom management procedures.
- Dr. Wong’s chapters on Lesson Mastery are also very useful, from “How to Create an Effective Assignment,” to “How to Enhance Student Learning.” Dr. Wong is clear about the importance of having lesson objectives posted on the board for both students and teacher.
This book is a must-read not only for first-time teachers, but also for veterans who need a shot of energy and new ideas for their teaching. This is a very “do-able” book written in a clear, understandable manner. Inspiring!