FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success


[semester equivalent = 3.33 credits]



Mary Ann Johnson



Based on one of the best-selling books on classroom management and student achievement, this course will help you make the first day of school, and every day, more successful!
Our text is The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher by Harry & Rosemary Wong. Regardless of your level of experience, you will enjoy the text and will want to savor it instead of rushing through. In addition to inspirational stories, you will find it packed with practical examples that you can take right to your classroom.
We’ll go step-by-step in the text through skills that will lead you to success. As you complete assignments, you will be inspired to be a teacher-leader instead of a stressed-out worker. With the economy down and class sizes up, it is more crucial than ever to use effective classroom procedures. You will learn practical, time-tested techniques for teaching and managing students. Decreasing your stress level, you will learn new skills to help decrease the achievement gap. You will master specific strategies to enhance student learning, as well as engaging techniques that inspire and motivate.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Studied management practices that result in high levels of student achievement.
  2. Reviewed their own personal classroom management style and created new procedures for use in the classroom. 
  3. Explored mastery learning and other effective ways of increasing student engagement.
  4. Designed their own professional teacher-leader plan to meet their needs and interests.
  5. Reviewed and researched strategies to stay inspired as a teacher-leader.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



The First Days of School:  How to Be an Effective Teacher (Book with an enrichment DVD included. 5th Edition, ISBN# 09764233-8-6, by Harry K.Wong, Rosemary T. Wong Harry K. Wong Publications.  Approximately $20, used, from Amazon.

  • THE First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 5th Edition (Book & DVD)
    ISBN# 0976423383
    by Wong, Harry K, Wong, Rosemary T
    Harry K. Wong Publications

    Buy from Amazon


Text cost approximately $20 from Amazon.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Introduction.

Introduce yourself with a background statement that includes the following:
A description of your current professional situation. 
A list of the outcomes you anticipate from completing this course.

Assignment #2: Watch DVD.

Watch the DVD located at the back of the book.  Why do you think Harry and Rosemary Wong chose this video to accompany this course edition?

Assignment #3: COURSE FORUM.

Read Unit Section A. Choose one (1) of the following prompts to focus on: What is the difference between classroom management and discipline? OR What teaching methods do you remember as a student? Which of these methods were research-based methods? OR Compare your school district to Western Heights? What similarities and differences are there? OR Which of the research-based teaching methods do you currently use? Which would be the easiest to implement in your classroom?
Write a short 1-2 page response on your learnings.
What are your thoughts about the relative importance of management and discipline?  Please enter those in the forum for the course.  If others have already entered ideas, please respond to the one(s) that catch your interest.

Assignment #4: Read Section B.

Read Section B. Choose one (1) of the following prompts to focus on: What expectations do you have of your students and how do you demonstrate them? OR What could you or your school do differently to welcome students back on the first day of school, either in September or after a break? OR What would you need to have in place to make sure the rest of the class is well managed and on task so you can get to know individual students? How do you currently do this?
Write a 2-3 page response on what you learned.

Assignment #5: Read Unit Section C.

Read Unit  Section C.
Describe 5-7 routines in the book you could apply in your classroom.
Explain why you chose these routines and how they could help your students.

Assignment #6: Pick 2.

Read Unit D.
Pick two (2) of the following 3 options and respond, given what you found in the text:
  1. Why do some students not complete assignments? What could you do to improve the completion rate for your students?
  2. How do you currently use scoring guides to increase student learning? What new ideas do you have on using scoring guides?
  3. Why is it important to begin with the end in mind?

Assignment #7: Read Unit E.

Read Unit E. The section says that teachers, not programs produce student achievement.
Create your own professional development plan for the next 3 years in a 1-2 page document. Write down your plan. Include classes that you are going to take, and when you plan on taking them. Include other ways you plan on improving as a teacher that were discussed in these chapters.  For each action on your plan, state when you plan on doing that action.

Assignment #8: Read 5 Articles.

Read five (5) articles from a unit from the book The First Days of School  and report on them. Chose the units of the book that you would like to concentrate on.  Some of the extras are within the borders of the text.  You may also read any of the online articles from that unit at, then click "Books," and then click "First Days of School."  You'll get a link below  the description of the book that says "Learn more." Click on that, and then click on "Going Beyond." That's where there are articles for each unit of the book.  
Write a summary of what you learned for these 5 extras in 1-2 pages.



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #9: Lesson Development or Blog Article

Complete one of the following options:

Option A)
Describe a change in practice reflecting what you’ve learned in this course.  Write a 250-500 word commentary, (blog article),  on what you did previously and what is a new practice you tried.  If you can, include any student feedback on your lesson, including either results of their responses or any comments. Submit your assignment via the online response box or file upload.
Option B)

 If using Edition #4, review chapters 20 & 21. If using Edition #5, review Chapters 15 & 18.  Determine the 5 best ideas in these chapters you would like to implement.  Why did you select these choices? Write a 500 word article to describe these ideas and your choices. Submit your assignment via the online response box or file upload.

NOTE:  If you would like to upload your work to the Heritage Institute Lesson Library, or our Blog, please do that, or email a copy of your article by email to Renee Leon,, THI blog curator and media specialist.

Assignment #10: Scoring Guide.

Review Chapter 19 and the online resources for Chapter 19 at or go to Going Beyond folder. 
At www.effective, on the dashboard, click “Books,” click “First Days…,” click "Going Beyond"   and Chapter “19”.  Examples of scoring guides by Karen Rogers, Norm Dannen, Baseball Fever Scoring and Multimedia are given.  
Create a scoring guide rubric for an activity in your classroom.
Option A: Use the rubric for an activity and reflect on results in a 1-page paper. Option B: Incorporate your rubric into a lesson. Use whatever format you prefer.

Assignment #11: Learning Team.

If using Edition 4, Refer to  Chapter 24. With 1 or more colleague(s), create your own learning team meeting. to determine how to teach a particularly important learning objective with team collaboration. based on practices of PacificElementary Schools successful use of a format called the Schmoker Model.  If using Edition 5 see Chapter 21, pages 283-284., where this information is just called Schmoker's Lesson Plan Protocol.
Then complete steps 1 through 6 during your learning team meeting, and then continue with the directions for Option A or B below.  Here is a summary of the steps to follow for this assignment. 
1.  Focus (3-5 minutes):  Identify the specific learning objective to be focused on and agreeming on what assessment will be used to determine the success of the lesson.
2.  Assessment:  Create the assessment
3.  Quiet Write (1 minute):  Quietly and privately brainstorm on paper the elements, steps, or strategies that might go into an effective lesson in which the greatest number of students succeed.
4.  Brainstorm (4-7  minutes):  Gather the widest range of possible strategies from the team.
5.  Selection (3-6 minutes): As a tem, select the ideas to be used    
6.  Outline Lesson (4-10 minutes):  Collect related ideas, sequence them, add or rearrange them
Complete steps 1 through 6 during your learning team meeting and continue with one(1) of the following options, either Option A or B to complete this lesson.
OPTION A: Complete steps 7 and 8 and write a 1-page paper outlining the results.
                    Step 7:  Implementation Next Meeting:  Compare results and discuss adjustments you might make.
Option B: Develop the lesson you started in step 6 with your colleague(s.)  Summarize your assessment of the process and how you feel about using the process for future problem-solving in professional team meetings.

Assignment #12: (500 Level ONLY)

In addition to the 400 level assignments complete one (1) of the following assignment options:
Option A)
Review five (5) of the GoBe resources that could be used at your school.
Create a 2-3 page handout that could be given to other teachers at your school.
Option B)
Read GoBe for Chapter 22 for 4th Edition and Chapter 20 for 5th Edition on how students can achieve 98% mastery.
Create a PowerPoint presentation of 8-10 slides that you could use in a professional development setting on this topic. What do teachers need to keep in mind for 98% mastery when they plan a unit?
Option C)
Another assignment of your own design, with the instructor’s prior approval.


Assignment #13: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Mary Ann Johnson, M.Ed Adm. has worked with students of all levels, from alternative high school to gifted classes. She has also been a junior high vice principal and is now working with teachers for continuing education in classes, distance learning and building leadership groups. She is a teacher emeritus who has led seminars for educators which focus on developing a quality learner environment for students and for teachers. Her courses are research-based and resonate with user-friendly and energizing content.


FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success

Anderson, Jeff. Everyday Editing. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, 2007.  Move your students beyond the fear of the red pen. You will learn how to use mentor sentences and best practices to tackle “grammarphobia.” (Yours and/or your students) You will learn to teach writing and editing in a way that your students will not only understand, but also enjoy. The book is friendly to read and does not make you feel stupid about grammar. There are no “correct-alls,” just writing, revising and editing lessons and techniques that work. My class Editing Made Easy is based on this book.
Boushey, G., Moser, J., The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, 2006.
Written by real classroom teachers, this book presents practical strategies that actually work in the classroom. You will learn how to keep students engaged in reading while you work with small groups and individual students. The book uses best practices from research, but doesn't have any jargon. The book is consistently in the top 10 education books sold. You can read the book in 2 hours, and start implementing it in your classroom the next day. My Class Kids Will Love to Read and Write is based on this book.
Dodd, P., Sundheim, D., The 25 Best Time Management Tools and Techniques: How to Get More Done Without Driving Yourself Crazy. Chelsea: Peak Performance Press, 2005.  This is a very easy, to read book full of ideas and tips. It does not go into depth on the strategies, but gives summaries of the tips.
The First Six Weeks of School, Center for Responsible Schools, 2016, 304 pages. ISBN 987-1-892989-81-9.                                                                                                                                                                This comprehensive guide for K-6 teachers shows how to set up students for a year of engaging and productive learning.  The focus is positive teacher language to set high academic and behavioral expectations, getting students excited about schoolwork, and teaching classroom and academic routines that foster collaborative learning communities.
Jones, F., Fred Jones Tools for Teaching: Discipline, Instruction, Motivation. Santa Cruz: Fredric H. Jones Associates, 2007.  While this book has a lot of information on motivation and discipline, it also includes some invaluable information on how to decrease the amount of grading that you do, and how to do more of your grading while students are working, instead of after they finish. 
Morgenstern, Julie., Time Management from the Inside Out: The foolproof system for taking control of your schedule and your life. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004.  You will discover what time management techniques work for you. This book is not a set of skills that you impose on your life. You learn what time management techniques are effective for you and your personality. You will learn how to balance your time so you can get more done. Teaching should not be all work and no pleasure.  My class Saving Time is based on this book.
Powell, A., The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable. Due Season Press, 2009.  Mostly for elementary teachers, this book is full of timesaving tips. The book also talks about how to actually work a 35-40 hour workweek as a teacher and do a good job while working those hours. It has tips on managing your planning, grading and other time-management tips.