Customer Review

165 of 181 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for elementary, too naive for middle school, June 13, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher (Paperback)
I have just finished my first year teaching and found "The First Days of School" useful for setting up a classroom but not for dealing with extreme problems.
Wong's book was an excellent resource for me when I was given a job description, a classroom, and little else. Wong will explain to you how to set up everything from your gradebook to your classroom management system. He stresses the importance of routines and procedures to classroom management, and he is indeed right. If you teach in a school where the students are used to structured classrooms and consistent discipline systems, this book will cover most of what you need to know. Buy it, implement it, call it heaven-sent.
HOWEVER: Wong fails to address the WHAT IFs of classroom management like: what if I'm doing all of these things and the kids are defiant? What if all 35 of them decide to act up? What if I totally lose it? These were the major questions at my school this year, and many of were dissatisfied by the way Wong assumed children would react.
Case in point:
In a discussion of logical consequences for a child not entering the room correctly, Wong suggests that you tell the child to do it over again until he does it correctly. I'm sure that a 2nd grader would repeat the procedure correctly and sit down. An older child at a school with a consistent discipline plan might do this as well.
At my school this year, our 7th graders (who had every 6th grade teacher walk out on them the year before and had gone through five Junior High teachers this year already) would do one of the following:
1. Scream obscenities at the teacher and leave the room (not to re-enter correctly but to ditch);
2. Re-enter incorrectly until the teacher went crazy and wrote the kid a referral*;
3. Some combination of the above choices, drawing the teacher into a time-consuming referral* while the rest of the class (35+ kids) got out of control.
*The referral would likely not be seen at the office anyway, so the kid's gotten off without a punishment and the rest of the class got away with missing 10 minutes of instruction.
Does this sound out-of-control to you? I certainly hope so. If you find yourself in a situation where students have become accustomed to these behaviors and you want to break them of these behaviors and actually - get this - teach something, BUY FRED JONES' "TOOLS FOR TEACHING" instead. Fred Jones will teach you practical solutions for these problems. He taught me how to deal with the preceding situation and many others, and I'm actually excited to go back next year.
Harry Wong seems nice, his tools are useful, but the second a kid is extremely defiant, his book flies out the window. Jones will teach you how to eliminate backtalk - and it works.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 20, 2008 9:26:58 AM PST
M.L. says:
I agree that Wong and Wong are more focused on elementary techniques, but many of the ideas are still beneficial if modified for the higher levels. You may also want to take a look at A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New and Old. It is aimed at helping new teachers with the practical, day to day events, such as the one you described. Good luck.

Posted on Jan 27, 2009 11:29:14 AM PST
E. Siemsen says:
I am glad I read this review. I was thinking of buying this book for my husband. I won't now, since my husband teaches high school and regularly comes across all those What Ifs you mentioned. Thanks for recommending the Jones book; I'll check that out.

Posted on Mar 14, 2009 11:01:38 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 14, 2009 11:01:53 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2009 6:58:50 PM PDT
W. Sager says:
Thank you for the review. Certainly gives me something to weigh, especially considering after a long career in the corporate world, I am about to begin a new career as a Middle School English teacher in an "at risk" inner city school that has a history of "unruly" students.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2010 1:39:43 PM PDT
You review is more an indictment of your school and its administration than the book. You sit and complain that your schools administration will not support you in discipline issue and then act like the book is somehow at fault? Seriously?
I've worked with some of the worst and some of the best kids and invariably the concepts in the book are valueable. To discount the book as your administration is a failure is a joke. Look inwards before you condemn outwards.

Posted on Aug 27, 2010 10:17:02 AM PDT
BobH says:
The fact that you were an overwhelmed, underprepared first-year teacher with little support from your administration doesn't invalidate the advice given in this book. And no, not every technique is going to work in every circumstance, particularly in extreme cases like yours.

I'd say your issues are bigger than any book could every hope to resolve. I hope people don't base their opinion of this book's value on your narrowly focused experience.

Posted on Sep 11, 2010 8:02:27 PM PDT
S. Jones says:
I agree that Jones is a more complete book on management, but Wong's book is a book for middle school and high school teachers. The section on mastery learning is excellent, and perfect for secondary teachers.

Posted on Sep 17, 2010 8:11:55 PM PDT
D. Chlouber says:
As a teacher of teenagers and a parent of two, I agree that Wong's book falls woefully short on the what-if side. He always presumes success. I think the principles are good, and if implemented in early grades and applied consistently, high school would be much better for everyone. But do you seriously think you can take a class of Junior/Senior and implement the "high five" technique? Even with age appropriate modifications, it's not enough. Many good ideas for organization though, and worth reading from the library, but Jones' book should be on your bookshelf.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2010 2:27:54 PM PST
One of the better books for older kids is Teaching with Love and Logic. It works

Posted on Mar 19, 2011 4:52:04 PM PDT
LindaT says:
I hear you loud and clear!

There are times when the little angels don't act like little angels! And without a good, solid backup by administration, even as well laid out plans as Mr. Wong's, a teacher is going to have a hard time.
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