Classroom success is built on structure. Dr. Harry K. Wong, author of "How to be an Effective Teacher: The first days of school," told the teachers, staff and administrators of the Winslow Unified School district that 50 years of research conclusively proves that the successful teacher is one who has procedures and structure in the classroom. This also applies to other jobs in the school system, from the cafeteria to the administrative offices. "Kids want security and consistency," Wong said.
To new teachers Wong said, "You will give more than you ever expected and you will get back more than you ever expected." He said his ideas were not new, but his audience heard him put them together in a new way.
The effective teacher moves beyond being a good classroom manager to providing lessons designed to allow all the children to reach mastery of the subjects, and leading them with positive expectations. Wong emphasized the need for a culture in the classroom and the school. This is a group phenomenon that is expressed as "we" rather than "I."
The place of the school in transmitting culture becomes more important because few families gather on a daily basis now. Wong said that traditions of family, school and church are being replaced by the influence of media, fast-food restaurants and shopping malls.
To create a culture in the school means procedures need to be clear from the first day, from the playground in the early morning to dismissal in the afternoon. This gives students security in knowing what is expected and what to do. In fact, Wong said, students who are confident of their classroom procedures will tell a substitute what is expected. It also builds a sense of trust and family relationship.
Dr. David Black, District Superintendent, introduced Dr. Wong's presentation by saying "We're all a family and are working hard on behalf of the student body." At the end of the three-hour session Black presented Wong with a certificate of appreciation as staff members prepared to implement some of his ideas.
Wong was able to keep an audience that filled most of the wooden seats in the WInslow High School auditorium interested and alert through a long presentation. He used slides, a video, humor and earnest beliefs clearly presented to make his points. Laughter and applause were both present. It was a half-day off from regular school but a valuable series of universal ideas for the district. The afternoon was another step in the Winslow schools' path to excellence.
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