I have just finished my first year teaching and found "The First Days of School" useful for setting up a classroom but not for dealing with extreme problems.
Wong's book was an excellent resource for me when I was given a job description, a classroom, and little else. Wong will explain to you how to set up everything from your gradebook to your classroom management system. He stresses the importance of routines and procedures to classroom management, and he is indeed right. If you teach in a school where the students are used to structured classrooms and consistent discipline systems, this book will cover most of what you need to know. Buy it, implement it, call it heaven-sent.
HOWEVER: Wong fails to address the WHAT IFs of classroom management like: what if I'm doing all of these things and the kids are defiant? What if all 35 of them decide to act up? What if I totally lose it? These were the major questions at my school this year, and many of were dissatisfied by the way Wong assumed children would react.
Case in point:
In a discussion of logical consequences for a child not entering the room correctly, Wong suggests that you tell the child to do it over again until he does it correctly. I'm sure that a 2nd grader would repeat the procedure correctly and sit down. An older child at a school with a consistent discipline plan might do this as well.
At my school this year, our 7th graders (who had every 6th grade teacher walk out on them the year before and had gone through five Junior High teachers this year already) would do one of the following:
1. Scream obscenities at the teacher and leave the room (not to re-enter correctly but to ditch);
2. Re-enter incorrectly until the teacher went crazy and wrote the kid a referral*;
3. Some combination of the above choices, drawing the teacher into a time-consuming referral* while the rest of the class (35+ kids) got out of control.
*The referral would likely not be seen at the office anyway, so the kid's gotten off without a punishment and the rest of the class got away with missing 10 minutes of instruction.
Does this sound out-of-control to you? I certainly hope so. If you find yourself in a situation where students have become accustomed to these behaviors and you want to break them of these behaviors and actually - get this - teach something, BUY FRED JONES' "TOOLS FOR TEACHING" instead. Fred Jones will teach you practical solutions for these problems. He taught me how to deal with the preceding situation and many others, and I'm actually excited to go back next year.
Harry Wong seems nice, his tools are useful, but the second a kid is extremely defiant, his book flies out the window. Jones will teach you how to eliminate backtalk - and it works.