Getting to Know: Dr. Harry K. Wong: Managing the Effective Classroom 101

By Asquith, Christina | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, April 5, 2007 | Go to article overview

Getting to Know: Dr. Harry K. Wong: Managing the Effective Classroom 101


Asquith, Christina, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Teachers call him the "rock star of education," and judging by the crowds who flock to see him speak--then rush the stage for photos--one might expect long hair, leather pants and a guitar. Instead, Dr. Harry Wong is all about Powerpoint presentations and useful advice on a topic that shakes teachers to their core: how to manage a class full of students. The book he wrote with his wife, Rosemary, The First Days of School, has sold three million copies. He shares with Diverse why improving teachers colleges is essential to improving minority student achievement.

DI: High teacher turnover wreaks havoc on schools, and yet some low-income school districts lose as many as 30 percent of their staff every three years. Why do teachers leave?

HW: A Miami teacher once told me that when he started teaching he was given a "classroom management plan" that was really a behavior plan. So he spent three years fighting student behavior, until he heard me talk and learned that it is all about how you run and structure a classroom. For instance, you manage a store, you don't discipline a store. If you learn how to manage a classroom, you can be proactive and prevent 80 percent to 90 percent of the behavior problems before they occur. A lot of problems in urban schools are caused by teachers who have not been taught how to structure a classroom and deliver the instruction.

DI: Only 6 percent of teachers in the United States are Black males, according to the National Education Association. How important is diversity among teaching staff?

HW: There's much research that says that the race of a teacher has nothing to do with student achievement; it is the effectiveness of the teacher. Nothing says you must have an African-American teacher teaching African-American students. …

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