Two Programs, One Goal:
Academic Achievement

The GOTAGS Program

Getting Off to a Good Start Sample Video

This video provides an overview of the "Getting Off to a Good Start" program by creator Alene Harris. After watching contact us with any questions or visit the GOTAGS order page for more information.

What GOTAGS Offers

Both the GOTAGS book and book-plus-screencast provide teachers with research-based and teacher-tested strategies for proactively beginning the school year in ways that…

  • ... engage students,
  • ... minimize problem behavior, and
  • ... build community for the rest of the year.

Will Rogers was right: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” GOTAGS guides teachers in making the most of that first chance as they work through the following topics:

  • Setting the Physical Environment of the Classroom
  • Introducing Yourself to Students
  • Developing and Teaching Rules and Procedures
  • Enhancing Student Academic Accountability
  • Ensuring Physical and Emotional Safety
  • Building Positive Classroom Community
  • Developing Home-School Communication

For more information on each of these topics, see the Teacher Education and Practice article “Starting at the Beginning: An Intuitive Choice for Classroom Management”. The article reports the results of survey data from over 300 teachers implementing GOTAGS at the beginning of the school year. Findings show that teachers made changes in their approach to starting the school year that resulted in increased teacher efficacy and fewer off-task and disruptive student behaviors.

GOTAGS for a teacher is more than just a survival guide; GOTAGS for a school or school system is an economical way to provide research-based guidance and to develop a common vocabulary for professional sharing.

The follow-up Maintaining Momentum book provides research-based and teacher-tested strategies in four areas helpful throughout the remainder of the school year:

  • promoting appropriate student behavior,
  • managing small groups,
  • assessing student work,
  • enhancing student motivation.

Written at the request of teachers who completed GOTAGS, and wanted “something more to help me build on what I started,” this text offers over 30 activities that apply directly to the classroom.

As every educator knows all too well, the demands of being a teacher today are never ending and ever increasing. And, as a result of this, many teachers’ first inclination is to jump right into core material, hoping to get a head start on what must be covered by the last day of school. The assumption is that if the bottom line of students’ going to school is academic growth, then it makes little sense to spend time attending to “non-academics” – things like planning and teaching class rules, procedures, and the various “going to school skills” that are the WD40 to lubricate learning. NOT SO!

Multiple educational researchers (see Evertson et al., 1983; Emmer; 1983; Sanford, 1984; Evertson 1985, 1989; Bonne et al., 2004) have documented that what teachers do in the first days of school – no matter the grade level – has a definite correlation with students’ lesson engagement and desirable behavior throughout the year, as well as academic achievement by the end of the year.



This means that dedicating time at the beginning of the school year to develop, teach, and consistently reinforce classroom rules and procedures and other “going-to-school skills” results in MORE TIME TO TEACH throughout the remainder of the year. And with more time for instruction, students in those classes had HIGHER ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT at the end of the year.

Why GOTAGS Works

A teacher’s goal is to prepare both self and students for success. The groundwork for this success begins in the first days of school. GOTAGS identifies and teaches how to teach those beginning-of-the-year “nonacademics” that so greatly influence the academics for the remainder of the year. GOTAGS materials contain numerous ideas and techniques for the first days of school – things that can immediately be used as is or adapted to a teacher’s own classroom.

GOTAGS incorporates educational research findings, teacher-tested proven practices, and a bit what the author learned in teaching over 2,000 mostly-middle school students, preparing over 1,000 future teachers, and conducting classroom management workshops with over 2,000 teachers in over 40 states. All of the ideas in GOTAGS are research-based and teacher tested.

Learn More

Find out more details about the GOTAGS program, look through the FAQ's,, and/or read customer reviews. You may also review resources cited. You’ll find a brief video introduction to GOTAGS and another to the screencast. If you would like to see a sample of the screencast, view the entire Segment Three video of this eight-segment resource.

Take advantage of the program that has helped teachers improve learning environments while rejuvenating their passion for teaching. Purchase GOTAGS book