Two Programs, One Goal:
Academic Achievement

Getting Off to a Good Start for Teachers More Than a Teacher’s Survival Guide

Classroom Management Challenge

We’ve all walked by that classroom before – the one where students are off task, noise echoing from the walls, while the teacher slumps defeatedly behind the teacher’s desk. (Perhaps you’ve even experienced this defeated feeling – your author can testify to it from first-year, first-hand experience.) But there is hope – a classroom need not be like that. Instead, when you as a classroom teacher implement several proven classroom management strategies in those very first days of school, both you and your students “get off to a good start,” and many potential problems are prevented before they ever have a chance to begin.

Advantages of GOTAGS

The sad reality of the majority of teacher education programs is this: They often leave future teachers ill-prepared to manage a classroom full of young people. And no wonder! Only about half of teacher licensing agencies require pre-service teachers to have any evidence-based classroom management courses (see Freeman et al., 2014). This number is gradually increasing. But the fact is that many teachers – both beginning and veteran – must look elsewhere for help.

But where do you begin? The answer is at the beginning – in the first days of school. And this is what GOTAGS addresses. Educational researchers have observed in hundreds of classrooms to identify things that more effective teachers (that is, teachers whose students have higher academic achievement and better behavior) do in those first days of school. When your author began teaching (several decade ago) there was no such knowledge base. Now there is! These more effective teachers prioritized time at the beginning of the school year to literally teach their students lessons on the “non-academics” of the classroom before moving on to the academics.

“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

In the GOTAGS book, you’ll find numerous ideas and techniques to address those beginning-of-the-year “non-academics,” with activities that allow you to apply them directly to your classroom. When you teach lessons on these non-academics at the beginning of school, you sets the stage for more academic teaching time for you and more academic learning time for your students for the remainder of the school year. Planning ahead on arranging the room and materials, developing and teaching rules and procedures, clarifying academic expectations and teaching students how to achieve them, developing a positive class climate, and implementing initial positive parent/guardian contacts helps you optimize your teaching potential.

A Workshop on Your Own Time – with Professional Development Options

In addition to the book, adding a screencast allows you the experience of a GOTAGS workshop – but over the summer on your own time schedule and at your own pace. An eight-segment video guides you through the text and activities, and several of the activities include lists of ideas from other teachers who have worked through GOTAGS. Teachers report that completing the book and activities with the screencast requires about seven to nine hours, depending on how much time they choose to spend on the various activities. You are welcome to view Introducing Yourself to Students as a screencast sample.

Also, with the screencast there are professional development options available.

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.

P.S. There’s More…

At the request of teachers who completed GOTAGS and kept asking the author for “something more,” the book Maintaining Momentum: Building on a Good Start is now available. The top four categories of teacher requests for “something more” after GOTAGS became the four chapters:

  • Managing Behavior and Choosing Consequences
  • Managing Group Work to Enhance Learning
  • Using Formative Assessment
  • Enhancing Student Motivation

You may find this resource a useful addition to your professional library.

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