ST. LOUIS (November 2) -- Noted educator Harry K. Wong, author of The First Days of School, praised the efforts of middle level educators in attendance at a general session of the National Middle School Association conference being held through Saturday in St. Louis. Wong recalled his brief experiences as a middle school classroom teacher and expressed admiration for teachers who teach students he referred to as "hormones on feet."
Wong, an expert in classroom management -- his The First Days of School has sold more than 1.25 million copies -- made the case for establishing classroom routines and procedures that ensure that students know what is expected of them. Those routines and procedures need to be set in place from the very first day of the school year, Wong told the educators. "You botch up the first day, and you're dead meat the rest of the year," said Wong, adding that "students just want some consistency."
"Effective teachers can be defined with a single word," Wong told the convention crowd. "Effective teachers steal!" Teachers who beg, borrow, and steal good techniques are teachers whose students will achieve, he added, noting that he is "the biggest burglar in the education field"!
Wong proposed that school systems promote effective teaching and student achievement by providing new teachers -- teachers in their first and second years in the classroom -- with structured training programs that teach good classroom management skills. Mentoring programs can be good, he added, but they cannot replace comprehensive training programs. Would you rather travel in an airplane with a pilot who had undergone a consistent and rigorous training program or with one who might need to call on a mentor if a sticky situation presents itself? Wong asked.
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