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Why Teachers Should Listen To Harry Wong

Adam Waxler

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Along with my full-time job as a middle school social studies teacher I also teach a college level course on classroom management. In that course I use my own books ("eteach: A Teacher Resource" and “52 Teaching Tips") as well as Harry Wong's book “The First Days of School" and Harry Wong's videos “The Effective Teacher".

While I do not agree with everything that Harry Wong teaches, by and large our teaching philosophies are very similar.

More than anything though, what I agree with most is what comes at the end of the Harry Wong videos…Wong asks everyone in the audience to say “Own It!" if they plan to go back to school and actually implement the teaching strategies taught in his presentation.

Now, while it is not exactly my style to shout out “own it!" in front of a bunch of people, I absolutely agree with the point he is trying to make…

The fact of the matter is, you can study all the teaching tips and teaching strategies in the world, but they will do you no good if you do not actually implement these teaching strategies in your own classroom.

I tell my college students one of three things will happen if you try the teaching tips discussed in my class and taught in my ebooks… 1. The teaching tip will not work and you will never use it again. 2. The teaching tip works, but needs some modification to fit your teaching style and your student's learning style. 3. The teaching tip works like a charm and you can not imagine how you ever taught a day without it.

However, the only way any of this can happen is if you actually give the teaching tips a chance…you must try them out and test them yourself to know for sure whether or not they work.

As the old saying goes, “You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink".

I have been trying to stress this point to my college students and I believe it is finally starting to sink in…

During my last few college classes more and more students have been telling me what new teaching strategy they have tried. Nothing makes me happier than this

One student flat out told me that she thought my “giving-students-a-break-during-class" tip was nuts. However, she followed my advice and gave it try and was shocked at the positive impact this simple teaching tip had on her class.

Another student told me that she took my advice about using movie clips, labs, and other hands-on activities at the beginning of the lesson rather than the end of lesson and was thrilled at how excited her kids were to want to learn more about the topic.

I even had a student approach me about how much she loved using the interaction sequence (by far the most effective teaching strategy I have ever used – explained in great detail in “eTeach: A Teacher Resource"). She described how this simple teaching tip has literally transformed one of her worst students and she can't believe she ever taught a day without it.

What separates these effective teachers from other non-effective teachers?

Not much more than a simple willingness to take risks.

All these teachers did was apply what they have learned.

Remember…to be a truly effective teacher one must not just continue to learn new teaching strategies…to be a truly effective teacher one must actually implement those teaching strategies in the classroom.

To gain an arsenal of effective teaching strategies that you can start applying to your very next class read “eTeach: A Teacher Resource for Learning the Strategies of Master Teachers" @


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