Two Programs, One Goal:
Academic Achievement

Getting Off to a Good Start for Schools: An Effective and Financially Feasible Staff Development Program

The Challenge – The Resource

If you are an administrator, then you have accepted the mission of guiding and encouraging an entire school or district to give their all – day after day – to ensure our nation’s future by teaching today’s K-12 students. Tasked with this responsibility, if there were a single program that could help you help your teachers perform their jobs better than ever before, would you do it? Fortunately, there is such a research-based and evidence-based program that has been proven to work time and time again: GOTAGS –Getting Off to a Good Start.

Teachers, Students, and Schools Achieve More with GOTAGS

Getting Off to a Good Start (or GOTAGS, for short) is a proven, research-based, and time-tested program that will help your teachers discover, define, and refine their classroom management philosophies, as well as outline and implement their classroom behavior management plans beginning on day one. And the WIIFM (‘What’s In It for Me?”) for you as an administrator is a more effective educational system with fewer disciplinary concerns and more class time for academics.

The GOTAGS Screencast emulates a staff development workshop experience as it leads your teachers step by step through the easily accessible GOTAGS workbook and guides them seamlessly through 20-plus classroom-focused on-line activities. When finished, they’ll have in hand a completely developed, proactive, personalized management plan for beginning the school year, ready to be implemented on the very first days of school.

“Last year my principal kept asking if I were sure that this was my first year to teach, and I kept assuring him it was. He said he'd never seen a first year teacher teach like she had been teaching for several years. GOTAGS prepared me to teach beginning day one.”
– Jessica Chapman, music teacher, Liberty Elementary School

As an administrator responsible for managing an entire school or school district, GOTAGS can help you achieve your larger goals in the four ways.

Get Everyone on the Same Page –

When your whole school completes the GOTAGS program…
  • ... all faculty members recognize the elements involved in proactively beginning the school year, and each teacher has a fully prepared lesson plan outline for doing just that.
  • ... veteran mentor teachers, and the novice teachers whom they’re mentoring, share a common language for their discussions about their classrooms, and they’ll be better able to share issues and ideas with each other.
  • ... administrators have proof that all teachers have worked through the materials, as exhibited by each teacher’s completed electronic Activities Template built into the program.

Better Prepare, Train, and Retain Your Best Teachers –

When your school system uses the GOTAGS program for teacher professional development, …
  • ... every one of your teachers experiences training and/or review (no matter their backgrounds) in the essential and proven skill of proactive classroom management.
  • ... all of your first-year teachers share a common language in the area of class management for discussing issues with their veteran mentor teachers who've already completed the program.
  • ... your new hires (no matter their previous years of teaching) are more likely to have a positive experience during that school year (and the following ones), making them more likely to stay with your school system for longer.

Save on Staff Development Financial Costs –

When you take advantage of the GOTAGS free two-year screencast subscription for individual teachers with the order or 20 or more GOTAGS books, …
  • ... you avoid the cost of an in-person consultant’s fee.
  • ... you are able to include and train an unlimited number of teachers within your school or school district.
  • ... your teachers have screencast access for two years – they can review and revise for the following year.

Save on Staff Development Time Costs

– When you allow teachers to complete the GOTAGS program independently over the summer, …
  • ... you have no need to set aside a school-calendar day for this staff development program.
  • ... teachers have the opportunity to complete the program on their own time and at their own pace.

The First Days of School Are Crucial

Every new school year is a chance for a new start in education. Studies repeatedly show that establishing a class management framework in the first days of school results in a decrease in behavior problems and an increase in student learning. Yet many teachers rush immediately into the academics of learning rather than take time that first week to establish communications, guidelines, and a class climate that optimizes that learning. Teachers in schools across the country repeat this same mistake year after year. With GOTAGS, you can guide your teachers through a proven planning process for beginning the school year. You can reduce and even eliminate some of the problems that have been plaguing your teachers and schools longer than you care to remember – simply by changing what teachers do in the first few days of the new school year (see Garwood et al., 2017).

Multiple educational researchers (see Sanford, 1984; Evertson, 1985; Evertson, 1989; Bonne et al., 2004) have found that what teachers do in the first days of school – no matter the grade level – has a definite correlation with student academic engagement throughout the year.

Studies show that teachers who developed and taught class rules and procedures in that first week of school experienced HALF the student off-task rate compared to teachers in those same schools who did not do so. And with more time for instruction, students in those classes had higher academic achievement at the end of the year (see Evertson et al., 1983: Emmer et al., 1983; Evertson 1985: Evertson. 1989).

Like a balanced seesaw, when student engagement goes up, behavior problems go down. And like tethered balloons, when student engagement increases, so does student learning.

What your teachers do in the first days of school impacts student academic achievement, which in turn impacts the performance metrics of the school and the district. GOTAGS can guide them in planning the first days of school to optimize their teaching and students’ learning throughout the year.

I work primarily in administration now…and I wish every individual going into some form of education or working with children would have the opportunity to be taught this material! I find myself educating the teachers I hire with this material because applicable strategies for classroom management is the one consistent hole I find in their education.
– Lindsay McCarthy, Director of Early Learning, Renaissance Kids Early Learning Centre


The Author Brings a Wealth of Knowledge and Experience

The author, Alene H. Harris, Ph.D., writes from the perspective of a teacher, researcher, and staff developer. Her 40-plus years in education include 16 years as both an elementary and secondary classroom teacher of over 2,000 students in rural, urban, suburban, inner city, and independent schools; and 26 years as a professor and educational researcher at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education. In those 26 years she also provided classroom management workshops for over 2,000 K-12 teachers and administrators in 46 states and one American Territory. And in each of those workshops, she kept notes on management ideas that had been successful for those workshop participants.

In GOTAGS, Dr. Harris incorporates educational research findings, teacher-tested proven practices, and a bit of what she learned in her own classroom. (And some of the stories she tells on herself and her own learning trajectory are more than humorous.) All of the ideas in GOTAGS are research-based and teacher tested.

Learn More

To 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. Read about a system-wide GOTAGS implementation in the journal article, “Starting at the Beginning: An Intuitive Choice for Classroom Management”.

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