Harry Wong & Classroom Management: Theory & Plan

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  • 0:01 What Is Classroom Management?
  • 0:47 Harry Wong & Classroom…
  • 2:17 Routines & Procedures
  • 3:25 Tenets of Harry Wong
  • 4:15 Autonomous Behavior Management
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teachers need a clear classroom management system in order to succeed as educators. This lesson explains the main tenets of Harry Wong's theory of classroom management and outlines what they look like in a classroom.

What Is Classroom Management?

Jessica is a pre-service teacher preparing for a job as a classroom educator. She spends a lot of time worrying about how she'll manage her classroom when she gets a job. She's heard about teachers who leave after a year or two because they couldn't get control of their students. She's put so much work into becoming a teacher and doesn't want to end up like those teachers who quit.

Jessica is worried about her classroom management skills. Classroom management is a teacher's method of operating the classroom to help students succeed. This involves keeping them on task, focused, organized, and able to make good choices. To help Jessica ease her fears, her professor recommends she check out work by educator Harry Wong. Let's take a look as Jessica learns about classroom management.

Harry Wong Theory and Classroom Management

Harry Wong is a former high school teacher who went on to write several books related to education and classroom management. Many educators are familiar with his work and rely on his strategy for classroom management. Wong's central idea is that teachers need to establish procedures and routines early in the school year in order to be effective and successful.

In other words, Wong's theory is that the problem Jessica fears, her ability to discipline her students, isn't really the main problem in teaching. In fact, the main problem is a lack of classroom management in the form of procedures, routines, and a planned system for student behavior.

Wong's theory focuses heavily on establishing routines, those things that happen repeatedly in a classroom that students can come to expect, and procedures, the way students carry out routines. For example, teachers like Jessica need to teach students where to hang up backpacks, how and when to sharpen pencils, or how to signal a teacher. Every routine that happens in a classroom needs a procedure to go with it.

Teachers should spend the first few weeks of school teaching students these routines and procedures. In doing this, they will then be able to spend the rest of the year focusing their energy on teaching instead of disciplining. Routines and procedures should be taught until they are automatic, and be customized for each classroom. Teachers need to be consistent with routines and procedures, and they should be posted so students are able to see them.

Routines and Procedures

Let's imagine it is Jessica's first day of teaching a 3rd grade classroom. Using Wong's theory of classroom management, she needs to establish routines and procedures for students beginning today. What kinds of things will she need to consider?

  • How to enter and exit the classroom and coatroom
  • When and how to move around the room
  • Ways to signal the teacher, like raising hand
  • Where to put supplies, and how and when to retrieve them
  • How to answer roll call
  • What to do for emergency procedures, like fire drills
  • How to line up
  • Proper hall behavior
  • How to use classroom materials, like the library
  • Ways to come to attention when called

As you can see, teachers have dozens of routines and procedures to teach and reinforce in the first two weeks. Every time a student makes a move, there should be a procedure in place they are confident in carrying out. When Jessica's students enter her classroom, they should know how to walk, talk, put away homework, gather supplies, begin work, and wait for further instruction. Teaching these and other procedures early means Jessica won't have to review them every day.

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