- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harry K. Wong Publications; 4th edition (2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0976423316
- ISBN-13: 978-0976423317
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 9.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,172 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher (Book & DVD) 4th Edition
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About the Author
Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong are award-winning teachers and new teacher advocates. Harry is a native of San Francisco and is arguably the most sought-after motivational speaker in education today having given some 3000 presentations to over a million people. He has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense, user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success. The March 2006 issue of Instructor magazine named him one of the 20 most admired people in education along with Maya Angelou, Howard Gardner, and Oprah Winfrey. He has received numerous other teaching honors.
Rosemary is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her classroom success led to her selection as one of the first Mentor teachers in California. She has received many Silicon Valley business honors and the Southeastern Louisiana University Distinguished Alumni Award.
A portion of the profit from the sale of their book funds "The First Days of School Foundation." That foundation has built and funds the 425 student "Wong Mean Reth Learning Academy" in the jungles of Cambodia.
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Top customer reviews
Wong starts off strong, highlighting some not-so-obvious facts and tips to help any teacher.
Quickly the book devolves into a sales pitch not unlike the one you'd see a hotel seminar. Wong heavily implies that but simply doing what he says behavior will change, students will respond to your efforts well, and you'll have a reputation.
As the book continues however, it becomes more and more clear that many of the tips are either painfully obvious or surface level. To be frank, most effective teachers are effective through their natural personality. If you buy this book to build up your skill, you might already in trouble.
Wong touts these obvious facts as unseen previously unseen virtues such as: organization, preparedness, structure, and kindness.
Students are not stupid. They can sense a false personality instantly. This book might work for small farm towns where people’s life experiences are less varied. But in a diverse and rough-around-the-edges class (aka the real world), most of these facts don’t work past a grade level.
The book makes claims that are clearly false. Such as a student’s success is primarily based on their attitude and not factors like economic and racial background. The greatest indicator of success is how much opportunity a student has available to them. (Simply put: money = opportunity. There are countless studies that show this.) The idea is simply, "if you work hard you'll make it" which is not true to reality. The book has little to no discussion of equity and resources, leaving teachers in poor district (where most student populations are centered, out of the loop.
The book advises that a teacher have manners and say “please” often, and be incredibly polite. Though manners are a recommendation for any interaction, in reality, a teacher should avoid saying please unless they are asking a favor. You should not say please to get a student to do their work.
In reality, avoid this book. Be strict, but not unreasonable. Be firm, but willing to help. ABOVE ALL BE RESPECTFUL: your students are people too.
Here are the virtues to hold onto as a teacher:
1. Respect (for you, your students, and your subject)
2. Accountability (for actions or misconduct)
3. Empathy (for your students life and struggles)
4. Patience (change comes with time and persistence)