One of John W. Bate Middle School’s very own longtime teachers, Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher Jeff Gulle, is one of several teachers who contributed writing in a recently-published book called “THE Classroom Instruction Book.”
The book can be purchased on effectiveteaching.com, in select bookstores and through other outlets.
It was written by Harry and Rosemary Wong, who together have released several books on education, including “THE First Days of School,” with over 4 million copies sold, and “THE Classroom Management Book.”
Gulle first was introduced to Harry Wong’s ideas on education when he heard him speak years ago when he was a teacher in Florida. Impacted by his words, Gulle bought a copy of “THE First Days of School.”
A few years later, once he had moved to Danville, he heard Harry Wong speak again in Lexington and approached him during the event. Gulle let him know his work made an impact on him and that he had adopted many of his ideas, and Wong asked Gulle to write to him with his own story about his educational background and learning experience.
Surely enough, that turned into an invitation to contribute writing pieces to later editions of “THE First Days of School,” “THE Classroom Management Book” and most recently, “THE Classroom Instruction Book.”
This is Gulle’s 26th year as a teacher and his 23rd year as a teacher with Danville Independent Schools. He’s been a seventh grade social studies teacher at Bate for 21 of those years.
Speaking on how he’s adopted the Wongs’ ideas when it comes to teaching, he said, “What I’ve learned is that there are two main components to successful teaching, and they are effective classroom management and effective instruction. And you have to do both because if you don’t manage your classroom successfully, then it doesn’t matter how well-designed your instruction is. It’s never going to be effective because you’re not managing your classroom properly. On the other hand, you can have a well-managed classroom, but if your instruction is poorly-designed or not engaging, that’s not going to be successful either.”
There was a learning curve when it came to making this realization. Like many new teachers, he said, when he first started he had a fantastical idea of what teaching would be — that lessons would go exactly as planned, with no disruptions or disengaged students, but that wasn’t reality.
“Just like all new teachers, a quarter of a century ago, I was in that situation and things didn’t go how I thought they were going to go,” he said.
For him, he had a lot of learning to do when it came to classroom management. So he did his research and learned how to improve his classroom management skills. Harry Wong has since allowed Gulle to share with his readers what he learned and how he transformed himself into someone who struggled with classroom management into someone who did it well.
Wong has made an impact on Gulle because his methods are simple and practical and aren’t a program that needs to be “bought.”
“It enables you to be yourself while understanding fundamental principles that are essential to understand if one is going to manage a classroom successfully,” Gulle said.
His relationships with students have also shaped his experience as a teacher, of course. He’s learned the majority of kids crave structure, so it’s important to outline classroom procedures early on and establish expectations.
And, as a teacher, it’s important to never cross the line between being a professional authority figure and being a friend, he said, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, kind and understanding.
“I think if the students see the teacher is an actual human being who cares about them, that does a great deal to make them be more willing, even if they hadn’t been, to do what you’ve asked of them,” he said of classroom expectations.
In his own class, he has three “Mr. Gulle’s Golden Rules,” which are to show respect to all members of the class, follow classroom procedures and learn required content and skills. But he also has a “platinum rule” that “sometimes the kind thing to do is the right thing to do.”
Though it’s important to uphold classroom procedures, sometimes the need for kindness is more important than rigidly following rules, he said.
“If the kids see that there is some flexibility motivated by concern for them on the teacher’s part, that does more wonders than I can put into words to get them to be willing to do what is asked of them.”
- Danville Independent Schools
- harry wong
- jeff gulle
- rosemary wong
- the classroom instruction book