The First Days Of School

by Harry K. Wong, Rosemary T. Wong

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: March 12, 2024
The First Days Of School
The First Days Of School

What are the big ideas? 1. The Raise Responsibility System: This book introduces a unique discipline plan that emphasizes problem-solving, self-discipline, and resp

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What are the big ideas?

  1. The Raise Responsibility System: This book introduces a unique discipline plan that emphasizes problem-solving, self-discipline, and responsibility among students. Instead of relying solely on punishment or rewards, this system encourages students to reflect on their behavior and take initiative to correct issues.
  2. The importance of clear classroom procedures: The book highlights the significance of having consistent rules, routines, and rituals in place, which helps create a structured learning environment that allows teachers to focus on instruction. Clear procedures also help students understand what is expected of them and reduce misbehavior.
  3. Preparing for the first days of school: This book offers specific strategies for effectively introducing yourself to your class, arranging and assigning seating, starting a class, taking roll, and maintaining an effective grade record system on the first day of school. These strategies help establish a positive learning environment and set clear expectations from the start.
  4. The role of technology in effective teaching: The book emphasizes the importance of using technology to diagnose student weaknesses, tailor instruction to their needs, and communicate with parents. It also suggests using electronic grade record programs for instant feedback and accessibility from anywhere.
  5. Collaborative learning teams: The book advocates for collaboration among teachers through learning teams, which work together to analyze instruction and student work, create and use curriculum maps, and implement assessments. This approach helps improve productivity and quality of work, align lessons with district or state standards, and focus on student learning.


Chapter 1: Why You Need to Succeed on the First Days of School


  • Effective teachers prepare for the first day of school with a script or plan.
  • Consistency is important in the first week of school to create a safe and predictable environment.
  • Establishing good control of classroom procedures in the first week is crucial for student achievement.
  • The effective teacher produces results and impacts lives.
  • There are four stages of teaching: Fantasy, Survival, Mastery, and Impact. The goal is to progress beyond Survival and achieve Mastery and Impact.
  • Effective teachers create trusting relationships with students through an effectively run classroom.
  • What you do on the first days of school sets the stage for a successful school year.


“The effective teachers spent time organizing and structuring their classrooms so the students knew what to do to succeed.”

“Students want a safe, predictable, and nurturing environment—one that is consistent. Students like well-managed classes because no one yells at them, and learning takes place. Effective teachers spend the first two weeks teaching students to be in control of their own actions in a consistent classroom environment.”

“It is very reassuring to your students that you know what you are doing.”

Chapter 2: What Is an Effective Teacher?


  • Effective teachers possess three essential characteristics: positive expectations, good classroom management, and design lessons for student mastery.
  • Positive expectations mean believing in students' ability to learn and influencing their performance accordingly.
  • Classroom management involves creating an environment where instruction and learning can occur through well-ordered practices and procedures.
  • Designing lessons for student mastery requires effective instruction and assessment to ensure students have comprehended concepts or acquired skills.
  • An effective teacher's positive expectations, good classroom management, and lesson design lead to a successful classroom.

Chapter 3: How You Can Be a Happy First-Year Teacher


  • Ask and learn from effective teachers in your community.
  • Continually improve yourself through education, professional organizations, and staff development.
  • Student teaching may not have prepared you for the first day of school.
  • Some districts have induction programs to prepare new teachers.
  • Effective districts offer comprehensive training and support for new teachers.
  • Recognize that becoming an effective teacher is a never-ending learning process.
  • Work in a collegial manner with colleagues, seek out positive mentors, and join professional organizations.

Chapter 4: How to Close the Student Achievement Gap


  • Effective teachers determine student achievement levels, producing more learning than ineffective teachers. (Rowan et al., 2002; National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 1997)
  • The teacher's effectiveness accounts for the greatest difference in student performance. (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 1997)
  • Students with several effective teachers in a row make significant achievement gains, while those with even two ineffective teachers in a row lose ground. (Sack, 1999)
  • Effective teaching produces improved student learning and increased student achievement, regardless of school environment. (Marzano's research)
  • Schools closing the achievement gap focus on learning for all students, use data to improve practices, involve everyone in improvement processes, persist through difficulties, and celebrate accomplishments. (National Education Association, 2006)
  • Teachers are the most critical component for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps. (GoBe folder information: The Miracle of Teachers)

Chapter 5: Why You Should Use Proven, Research-Based Practices


  • Effective teachers use proven, research-based practices.
  • Research is a critical thinking process used by various professions, including education.
  • Ineffective teachers may teach based on outdated methods or the latest fad without research evidence.
  • Teachers who work in learning communities are valuable research assets for improving student achievement.
  • Schools use data to improve student achievement and inform lesson planning.
  • Understand the research process, use proven research-based practices, and use research data to improve teaching and learning.

Chapter 6: Why Positive Expectations Are Important


  • Human success is influenced by attitude, not background or financial status.
  • Humans have a "success instinct" and strive for achievement.
  • Positive expectations lead to optimistic beliefs in success and alertness to opportunities.
  • Examples of positive expectations include believing in collaboration and student potential.
  • Positive expectations increase the odds of achieving desired outcomes.
  • Negative expectations lead to pessimistic beliefs and justification for failure.
  • Examples of negative expectations include doubting students' abilities or the value of professional development.
  • It takes equal energy to achieve positive or negative results, so why not aim for success?
  • Expectations should not be confused with standards; high expectations help reach high levels of achievement.
  • The classic Rosenthal-Jacobson study showed that teachers' expectations significantly influenced students' performance.


“You can accomplish anything with students if you set high expectations for behavior and performance by which you yourself abide.”

Chapter 7: How to Help All Students Succeed


  • Celebrate the First Day of School as a tradition in educational systems.
  • Extend warm welcomes to students upon their arrival at school.
  • Organize a First Day of School celebration.
  • Have greeters and welcome signs at school entrances.
  • Ensure a clean and orderly learning environment.
  • Teach students that school is a place to gain knowledge, give and receive love, and become successful.
  • Help organize a classroom welcome for the first day.
  • Ensure the mental and physical well-being of all students.
  • Create an environment for all students to succeed.


“School is not a place where students come to listen to lectures, fill in worksheets, and endure boredom. Nor is it a place reserved for those who can tolerate the drab and dirty look of many schools.

School is a concept wherein students are welcome to learn and enhance the quality of their lives without fear of intimidation or harm, guided by hospitable and caring people in a clean and orderly environment.”

Chapter 8: How to Dress for Success


  • Dress appropriately as a professional educator to make a positive first impression and model success for students
  • People judge others by their appearance, and your dress affects how you are perceived and treated
  • Always dress better than your students to gain credibility and respect
  • Clothing influences students' respect for a teacher and impacts learning
  • Dressing professionally helps establish a positive classroom climate and influences student behavior and achievement
  • Teachers have a responsibility to encourage learning, which begins with gaining and keeping the respect of students through appropriate dress
  • Observing how people dress in various professional settings can help educators understand the importance of dressing appropriately for the teaching profession.

Chapter 9: How to Invite Students to Learn


  • Effective teachers have the power to invite students and colleagues to learn every day.
  • Building relationships is the basis of being inviting in the classroom.
  • Teachers can extend invitational messages to influence students positively.
  • Intentionally disinviting teachers deliberately discourage students.
  • Unintentionally disinviting teachers may be unaware of their negative impact on students.
  • Unintentionally inviting teachers are generally well-liked but may not optimize student learning.
  • Intentionally inviting teachers work diligently, have a sound philosophy, and are explicitly invitational to maximize student potential.

Chapter 10: How to Increase Positive Student Behavior


  • Effective teaching is about building relationships with students through addressing them by name, using "please" and "thank you," smiling, and showing care and warmth.
  • Addressing students by name treats them with dignity and respect.
  • Saying "please" and "thank you" conveys respect and kindness.
  • Smiling communicates hospitality, graciousness, and positivity.
  • Effective teachers are loving and caring, lovable and capable.

Unit C: Second Characteristic _Classroom Management


  • Effective teachers organize well-managed classrooms for student learning.
  • Teachers who are prepared maximize learning and minimize misbehavior.
  • Introduce yourself to set the tone for the class.
  • Arrange seating to accomplish classroom goals.
  • Start classes effectively with assignments ready.
  • Simplify roll-taking to save instructional time.
  • Maintain a clear grade record system.
  • Have a discipline plan and enforce it consistently.
  • Teach procedures to run a smooth classroom.
  • Following procedures improves learning opportunities.

Chapter 11: How to Have a Well-Managed Classroom


  • Classroom management is the most important factor influencing student learning.
  • Effective teachers manage their classrooms, while ineffective teachers focus on discipline.
  • Consistency and predictability in the classroom are crucial for student success.
  • Students want a well-managed classroom that provides a structure for learning.
  • A well-managed classroom has procedures and routines to organize students, space, time, and materials.
  • The characteristics of a well-managed classroom include student involvement, clear expectations, minimal wasted time, and a positive climate.

Chapter 12: How to Have Your Classroom Ready


  • Effective teachers have classrooms ready, preventing many behavioral problems from occurring.
  • Effective teachers implement a plan at the beginning of the school year to use time effectively, implement group strategies, select lesson formats, and communicate clear procedures.
  • A successful teacher is ready with the work, room, and themselves.
  • Prepare the floor space by arranging desks, asking for needed items, keeping high-traffic areas clear, and having a strategic location ready for students who need to be isolated.
  • Prepare the work area by arranging it so you can easily see and monitor all students and areas, making sure you have necessary materials, testing equipment, and using containers to store materials.
  • Prepare the student area by providing space for their belongings and hanging jackets.
  • Prepare the wall space by covering bulletin boards with colored paper, displaying classroom rules, procedures, calendars, clocks, emergency information, charts, decorations, and student work.
  • Prepare the bookcases by rotating materials on shelves, not obstructing lines of vision, and labeling containers.
  • Maximize proximity to students and frequently used materials and equipment.
  • Place teacher's desk so you can easily monitor classroom while at your desk or working with individual students, place it away from the door, and make clear what is personal property.
  • Have a letter ready for students to bring materials, match students to desks, and have basic materials ready for the first week of school.
  • Prepare yourself by having a safe location for valuables, emergency materials, obtaining teacher's manuals and forms, and organizing and filing your masters, lesson plans, and computer disks.

Chapter 13: How to Introduce Yourself to Your Class


  • Prepare a welcoming classroom environment
  • Greet students at the door
  • Assign seats and have seating chart ready
  • Have first assignment posted or at each seat
  • Introduce yourself and communicate positive expectations
  • Establish rules and procedures for entering the room
  • Use students' names, be polite and clear in communication
  • Be organized and demonstrate competence
  • Follow a script on the first day to project confidence and control
  • Communicate with parents before school starts.

Chapter 14: How to Arrange and Assign Seating


  • Greet students at the door or line them up for a welcome and seating assignment before entering the classroom
  • Be present when students arrive and assign seats promptly
  • Create a welcoming environment in the classroom through clear directions, an inviting demeanor, and having assignments ready
  • Effective communication between teacher and students is crucial for successful learning experiences
  • Seating arrangements should facilitate communication and be tailored to the specific task at hand
  • Assign seats on the first day of school for efficiency and control in the classroom environment.

Chapter 15: How to Start a Class Effectively


  • Effective teachers post assignments daily and in the same location every day.
  • Having an assignment ready and posted when students enter the classroom is the first priority.
  • Bellwork assignments are procedures, not rules or graded activities.
  • Consistent schoolwide opening procedures lead to improved student achievement and easier class management.
  • Effective teachers inform students where to find the assignment and encourage a consistent classroom routine.

Chapter 16: When and How to Take Roll


  • Effective teachers start classes immediately with an assignment, not roll taking.
  • Students should be responsible for entering the room quietly and getting to work on their assignments.
  • Roll taking should be done quickly and quietly without involving the class.
  • There are various efficient methods for taking roll, such as using a seating chart or having students indicate attendance with clothespins.
  • Effective teachers prioritize maximizing student learning time and minimize distractions or unnecessary interruptions during class.

Chapter 17: How to Maintain an Effective Grade Record System


  • Maintain an effective grade record system to assess student learning at all times.
  • Use a traditional grade book or software program for recording and organizing student records.
  • Decide beforehand what records you will keep, such as attendance, scores, and running totals.
  • Keep attendance records efficiently with "present," "absent," "unexcused," and "tardy" designations.
  • Record individual assignment results on a separate line for accurate cumulative progress reports.
  • Consider using an electronic grade record program for instant feedback, communication with parents, and accessibility from anywhere.
  • Look for user-friendly software that can accommodate various types of assignments and provide accurate presentations of grades.
  • Use technology to diagnose student weaknesses and tailor instruction to their needs.

Chapter 18: How to Have an Effective Discipline Plan


  • Establish clear rules, consequences, rewards, and a system for implementing and communicating your discipline plan.
  • Use positive language, problem-solving, self-discipline, and responsibility in your discipline approach.
  • Teach students to reflect on their behavior and take initiative to correct issues through the Raise Responsibility System.
  • Communicate your discipline plan effectively to your students on the first day of school in a firm but friendly manner.

Chapter 19: How to Teach Students to Follow Classroom Procedures


  • Classroom procedures help create a structured learning environment
  • Procedures include rules, routines, and rituals
  • Procedures can be taught through modeling, demonstration, and practice
  • Procedures should be consistent and predictable
  • Procedures help students understand what is expected of them in the classroom
  • Instructional procedures teach students how to work in groups, take notes, read textbooks, do homework, and summarize each day's learning
  • At-risk students benefit from a well-structured classroom with clear procedures and routines
  • Effective teachers establish and reinforce procedures early in the school year to create a foundation for successful teaching and learning.

Chapter 20: How Procedures Improve the Opportunity to Learn


  • Group activities require clear instructions on group name, size, purpose, materials, steps, procedures, individual accountability, and evaluation methods.
  • Specify the group name as a support group and each member as a support buddy.
  • Assign responsibilities for getting materials, following the activity steps, making observations, recording data, and writing reports.
  • Hold individuals accountable for their contributions to the group's success.
  • Teach students evaluation methods to assess teamwork skills.
  • Create a structured classroom environment with established procedures for movement, noise levels, and transitions.
  • Implement consistent routines for entering, exiting, collecting work, sending notes home, and changing groups.
  • Establish rules and consequences for disruptive behavior and maintain a positive attitude during classroom management.

Chapter 21: How to Create an Effective Assignment


  • Objectives tell students what they are responsible for learning and what they will be tested on.
  • Write clear, concise, explicit, student-friendly objectives using action verbs from Bloom's Taxonomy.
  • Give students a copy of the objectives and explain their importance as study guidelines.
  • Post or send the objectives home with students to keep them focused on the learning objectives.
  • Writing specific questions or procedures for each objective helps students who need additional directions.
  • Effective teachers write objectives that tell what is to be accomplished, align objectives with standards, and know how to write objectives at all six levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.


“getting the students to comprehend and achieve. There is no one right way to do this. Just like classroom management, there is no one right procedure for getting the students to do what you want them to do. There are many options, but they are based on core information.”

“not all students complete their assignments, often because they either cannot understand the assignment or they fail to see the reason for doing it. In both cases, the assignment may be poorly designed.”

“when the assignment does not spell out what the student is to learn. There are no standards, no objectives, and no activities done for a specified reason. It’s like shooting arrows blindfolded hoping that one will hit a non-existing target.”

“When the students have no idea what is to be learned, and the teacher has no idea what is to be taught, no student learning can take place.”

Chapter 22: How to Test for Student Learning


  • Write objectives before starting a lesson or assignment
  • Tests should assess student accomplishment of objectives
  • Assignments and tests should be written concurrently
  • Tests should not be used solely to verify teacher coverage
  • Do not write tests based on passage of time, material covered, curve grading, or class period length
  • Give tests after students finish an assignment
  • Every test question should correspond to an objective
  • Test purpose: determine student mastery of lesson objectives.

Chapter 23: How to Assess for Student Learning


  • Effective teachers use scoring guides to clearly communicate expectations and grading criteria to students.
  • Scoring guides help students control their grades, develop important skills like listening, and understand what is required for a 100%.
  • Teachers can create or adopt existing scoring guides to assess student progress and ensure learning goals are met.
  • Constructing and using scoring guides aligns lessons with district or state standards, focuses the goal of the lesson, and helps gauge and assess learning.
  • Sharing objectives, activities, and scoring guides with students creates a sense of comfort, security, and confidence that the teacher is prepared to teach effectively.

Chapter 24: How to Enhance Student Learning


  • Effective schools prioritize collaboration among teachers to improve student learning through learning teams.
  • Teachers in effective schools work together to analyze instruction and student work, create and use curriculum maps, and implement assessments.
  • Learning teams have a shared vision, focus on student learning, and meet regularly to assess progress toward improvement of achievement goals.
  • Effective schools establish procedures and routines to free up instructional time, creating a supportive learning environment for teachers and students.
  • Characteristics of effective schools include a sense of community, continuity, and coherence, as well as a high-performance culture with shared responsibility for learning among all students.
  • Effective teachers are part of learning teams, contribute to maintaining a shared vision, analyze student work and instruction, and never give up on their students.

Chapter 25: How to Be a Teacher-Leader


  • Teachers have a significant impact on student achievement.
  • Effective teachers choose to continuously learn and grow.
  • The first days of school set the tone for the rest of the year.
  • Establishing routines and setting expectations early can help create a positive classroom environment.
  • Building relationships with students is essential for effective teaching.
  • Creating a welcoming classroom atmosphere can help put students at ease and promote learning.
  • Effective teachers are reflective practitioners who seek feedback and use it to improve their practice.
  • Teachers should focus on student engagement and creating meaningful learning experiences.
  • Classroom management is crucial for maintaining an effective learning environment.
  • Effective teachers are dedicated, passionate, and committed to making a difference in the lives of their students.

Epilogue: How to Develop a Culture of Effective Teachers


  • Effective teaching is the most significant factor in student achievement.
  • Comprehensive professional development programs are essential for new teachers.
  • Collaboration among teachers improves productivity and quality of work.
  • Teachers working in isolation make it difficult to achieve student success.
  • Schools should invest in their human capital by providing sustained professional development opportunities.
  • High-performing schools prioritize teaching and learning, not programs or ideologies.
  • Effective school leaders create a culture where teachers focus on instruction and student learning.



  • Effective teachers create a culture of learning by establishing consistent schoolwide procedures.
  • Consistency in procedures reduces student misbehavior and allows teachers to focus on instruction.
  • Principals should involve faculty and staff in the process of creating and implementing new procedures.
  • A comprehensive induction program, including coaching and professional development, is crucial for producing proficient and effective teachers.
  • Comprehensive induction programs have been shown to lead to increased student achievement and teacher satisfaction.
  • Providing ongoing support and training to teachers throughout their careers is essential for maintaining a culture of learning and effective instruction.


“One of the most frequently used and useless phrases in education is, “I have so much to cover. How am I going to finish it by the end of the year?” Notice that the word I is used twice and the word student is never used.”


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