Harry Wong, author and educator, spoke to a packed room of teachers and student teachers Sept. 7 at St. Louis Community College-Wildwood. The event was sponsored by UMSL.

What makes a good teacher? The question is asked by hundreds every year. A crowd of more than 260 students in Education from St. Louis Community College at Wildwood and University of Missouri-St. Louis, and teachers from the community were given the answer Sept. 7. “To be a good teacher, you must first be an effective teacher,” said Harry Wong, author of “The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher.”

Wong and his wife Rosemary, spoke to the full auditorium at St. Louis Community College at Wildwood. The students, who are seeking either their associate’s degree in education at St. Louis Community College or a bachelor’s degree in elementary education through a unique partnership between UMSL and STLCC, heard the two influential and admired educators discuss effective teaching.

“Teachers can’t just cover a chapter,” Harry Wong said. “If you do then McGraw-Hill is running your classroom. You have to teach, you have to give them (students) objectives and learning targets and then do it with them.”

Melissa Morris, a UMSL/Wildwood student teacher in the Hazelwood (Mo.) School District, said she’s a huge fan of Wong and has read his book.

“I even got him to sign my copy,” she said, giggling.  “I really like the ideas he has and the techniques he talks about. One of those ideas is to put together a binder with your classroom management plan, having all that information on hand, taking it with you on interviews with potential school districts and knowing how you’re classroom will be run.”

UMSL /Wildwood student teacher Margret Leonard said she learned a lot from the Wongs’ presentation.

“The idea of enforcing classroom management is wonderful,” Leonard said. “One of the ideas that stuck out to me was the “All About Me” board. Having a place where the students can tell things about themselves and what they like, it bolsters a sense of belonging for the students.”

Helene Sherman, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the College of Education at UMSL, said the presentation by the Wongs was beneficial for both new and seasoned teachers.

“His well respected leadership and writings  provide  a wealth of  successful  classroom practices ranging from enhancing student behavior to achieving academic success,” Sherman said. “His nationally known work empowers new and experienced teachers to improve their classroom instruction and therefore greatly enhance the students’ learning and success.”

Kelly Noonan, a second grade teacher from the Rockwood School District, has already taught for several years but still benefitted from the presentation.

“After reading his book during my first year of teaching, I was glad to have a refresher and learn some new best practices,” Noonan said. “I can’t wait to share new ideas with my colleagues and incorporate these into my classroom.”

Rosemary Wong said that to be an effective teacher, each person needs to develop what works for them.

“We are giving you the tools and techniques to take back to the classroom and become one effective teacher,” she said. “Every student deserves an effective teacher and you can do it, but not if you don’t believe.”

The Wongs presentation was sponsored by the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professorship of Tutorial Education at UMSL, College of Education at UMSL, St. Louis Community College at Wildwood and St. Louis Community College Foundation.

UMSL offers a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education in partnership with St. Louis Community College-Wildwood. The two year degree completion is designed primarily for students who have completed the associate of arts degree in teaching with an emphasis in elementary education at the community college. Many of the UMSL courses are delivered on the Wildwood campus providing students with the flexibility and convenience of taking courses in their own community.

More information:

Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton