by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Special to the Gazette
April 1, 2010
Training Teachers to Be Effective
The Best at What They Do
They produce more state teachers-of-the-year than any other school
district in Arizona.
They take novice teachers and turn them into expert teachers.
They have an eight-year new teacher induction and professional
They excel in building human capacity.
They're the Flowing Wells School District in Tucson, Arizona.
director of the Flowing Wells
professional development program
an effectively trained teacher
from this school district
Notice the words “effectively trained.” That’s what the Flowing Wells School District has been doing with its new teachers for over 25 years. And now the government’s education initiative, Race to the Top, suddenly realizes that it’s effective teachers that are the key to improving student learning and achievement.
Instead of teaching teachers how to be effective and how to improve student learning and achievement, the history of education has shown that we have spent at least 75 years jumping from one fad or ideology to another, while recycling the same programs year after year, decade after decade.
Tucson is the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team along with 14 other professional teams that bask in the sunshine to train and get ready for the season ahead.
Can you image if none of the teams had an organized, comprehensive Spring training program to bring out the best in each player and mold them into a team?
Instead, they give each player a mentor and tell the mentors to have a “reflective conversation” with the player assigned to them.
Yet, that’s exactly what many schools and school districts do to the new teachers that are hired and completely ignore the research that overwhelming states:
One-on-one mentoring does not improve student learning.
Over one million new teachers received mentoring between 1993 through 2003, but we know little about the magnitude of the benefits they have received or how the impact of mentoring varied across different types of programs. Mentoring has become an extremely popular policy for improving the retention and performance of new teachers, but we know little about its effects on teacher and student outcomes.
Despite the popularity of mentoring, little is known about its impact on employee turnover and skill acquisition. Nearly all published and unpublished evaluations of mentoring programs have used research methodologies that fall short of providing credible estimates of the causal impacts of mentoring.
Mentors who share similar educational backgrounds and subject matter experience as their mentees don't seem to have any impact, good or bad, on teacher retention or student performance—despite the fact that this type of matching is often stressed by state law and supporters of mentoring programs.
Jonah Rockoff, “Does Mentoring Reduce Turnover and Improve Skills of New Employees? Evidence from Teachers in New York City.” NBER Working Paper, February, 2008.
Click here for more research on the efficacy of mentoring.
Successful Induction Programs
Successful new teacher induction programs are organized the same as baseball training camps and all other new employee training programs found in successful businesses.
They are varied with different activities all tied to the organization’s
goals and vision.
There are instructors and coaches with defined responsibilities.
It should be self-evident that to simply give a new teacher a mentor will not produce an effective teacher. According to Richard Ingersoll, a good induction program has seven components.
Begin with an initial four or five days of training (in classroom management and effective teaching techniques) before school begins.
Offer a continuum of professional development through systematic training over a period of two or three years.
Provide study groups where new teachers can network and build support, commitment, and leadership in a learning community.
Incorporate a strong sense of administrative support.
Integrate a mentoring or coaching component into the induction process.
Present a structure for modeling effective teaching.
Provide opportunities for inductees to visit demonstration classrooms.
Unfortunately, districts continue to pour millions of dollars into one-on-one mentoring programs. The mentoring program at each school and even between each mentor varies and there is absolutely no consistency.
What works in producing effective teachers is an induction process designed to train and acculturate new teachers and teachers new to the district. The process emphasizes the academic standards, vision, and culture of the district.
The induction process is comprehensive, coherent, and sustained.
Comprehensive. There is an organized program consisting of many activities and components that involves many people, including the school-site principal.
Coherent. The various components, activities, and people are logically connected to each other—including the school-site principal.
Sustained. The comprehensive and coherent program continues for many years.
The goal of an induction program is to produce teachers who can
teach to established standards;
evaluate the effects of their instruction on student performance;
use student achievement data for planning and curriculum;
tailor instruction to address specific learning needs; and
thrive in the culture of the school.
Induction Focuses on the District’s Vision
Our introduction to the concept of induction began when we visited the Flowing Wells School District in Tucson, Arizona, in the early 80s. It was a phenomenally successful school district even though the students came from the challenging side of Tucson. Through the years, the Flowing Wells Schools have produced more award-winning teachers than any other school district in Arizona.
Flowing Wells does this with a well-organized, eight-year, new teacher induction process that takes a beginning teacher through incremental stages, from novice, competent, and proficient to expert, which then seamlessly flows into a life-long professional development program they call an Institute for Teacher Renewal and Growth.
Click here to read the details of their eight-year induction process.
The Flowing Wells Induction Program emphasizes five critical attributes that are the cornerstones of the district’s vision:
Effective instructional practices
Effective classroom management procedures and routines
A sensitivity to and understanding of the Flowing Wells community
Teaching as a reflection of lifelong learning and ongoing professional growth
Unity and teamwork among administration, teachers, support staff, and community members
Suffice to say, the Flowing Wells District induction program is able to achieve these outcomes:
100% of all new teachers to Flowing Wells attend the Induction Programduring their first year in the district.
Approximately 70% of all Flowing Wells teachers attend staff development training each year on a voluntary basis.
Based on feedback from school principals, the quality of teaching performance has improved significantly.
"Proficient" and "Expert" teachers design individual growth plans based on increased awareness of teaching research and methodology. These teachers are the Instructional Coordinators that provide the new teacher support.
An increased ability for teachers to reflect on their instructional practices has promoted professional dialogue among teachers, support staff, and community.
An attitude that "professional growth" is the norm for a Flowing Wells educator is evidenced by participation in after school and summer workshops.
The Impact of Induction
Yvonne Bernino is in her second year as a Culinary Arts teacher at Flowing Wells High School. Recently, the Arizona Family and Consumer Science Educators Association (FACS-Ed) presented her with its 2009 New Teacher of the Year Award.
Yvonne says she attributes her many successes and achievements to the dedicated educators at Flowing Wells who have supported, coached, and embraced her as a part of the school's family of teaching professionals. Yvonne may be complimentary, but this is the normal culture in the district—a culture created from their professional development program.
Yvonne also says that reading The First Days Of School and the new teacher induction program at Flowing Wells helped prepare her to be an effective teacher. She says that she loves to read the articles on teachers.net and “learn from the pros.”
She continues, “I beg, borrow, and steal! Of course, I share as well.” And share she does.
As an effective teacher, Yvonne presents her classroom management plan to her students on the first day of school. Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation Yvonne has shared with you.
Because she has learned to organize and have a well-managed classroom, she remarks, “I now get to sleep before midnight. By following the suggestions for using procedures, my life and my class have been nothing short of a miracle.”
Kevin Stoltzfus describes Yvonne as a member of the Flowing Wells professional community, “She entered the profession with passion for kids and excellent content background in culinary arts, but had little experience in how to teach and manage students.
“By January of her first year, she was completely transformed: poised, unflappable, always prepared, and, in her words, ‘in control.’ The transformation began with her commitment to teach her non-negotiable procedures and to hold students accountable for these. This accountability spread throughout all of her interactions with students, and soon the passion that she brought to the classroom was matched by her students' participation and engagement.”
Flowing Wells’s Own Top Chef
Yvonne seeks out opportunities for her students. The Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) works with schools to prepare students for the work world. The non-profit organization awards culinary scholarships to students at hosted competitions and donates supplies and equipment to classrooms in seven locations: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Arizona.
Recently, on March 13, Tanner Fleming created, cooked, and plated the $50,000 grand prize winning entry at this year’s competition—Hunter’s Chicken.
And Tanner’s teacher? You know the answer—second year teacher, Yvonne Bernino!
One of Yvonne’s former students, Heidi Jaenicke, says, "Ms. Bernino was one of the best teachers I had all throughout high school. She was always there for us early in the morning and late at night to help us prepare for competitions."
Yvonne knows the value of being an effective teacher for her students—it results in student success.
And in Race to the Top language, Flowing Wells identified and recruited an ideal teacher candidate. They have now trained her and will continue to train her every year she teaches in the district. Remember, Flowing Wells has been doing this for 25 years and Race to the Top has just discovered this is what needs to be done if we want effective teachers.
Because professional development never stops as part of the Flowing Wells culture, Yvonne says,
I made the right decision to become a teacher, an effective teacher that's changing lives daily.
And, of course, Flowing Wells will be able to retain her.
That’s how a district builds human capacity, because as the cadre of teachers become more and more effective, the students will learn more and more and achieve higher and higher.
Building Human Capacity
The greatest asset of a school district is its teachers. As a school district, Flowing Wells knows to train and teach its teachers to perform at their highest capacity. For a quarter of a century, Flowing Wells has been improving the instructional practices of its teachers and creating effective schools. It seems logical and simple, but the impact it produces is astounding.
The success of the Flowing Wells induction program speaks a clear message to any school district—to any country’s government—training, supporting, and retaining highly qualified teachers is a must. Induction is a must!
Programs do not produce student achievement; teachers produce student achievement. The “Race to the Top” initiative is misnamed. Being the best for students is not a race. A race implies someone will win and the rest will be forgotten. At Flowing Wells, all of its teachers are winners. They train and nurture their teachers to “Be at the Top.” Every moment, every day for teachers is an opportunity to grow and learn and be at the top of their profession—for children.
Effective teachers—children deserve nothing less.
a printable version of this article click
The techniques of effective teachers are replicable. Written ten times a year, Harry and Rosemary Wong's columns feature effective teachers and administrators and their techniques for enhancing student learning. An archive of past articles can be found at the end of every column, with a abstract of all articles at the end of the most recent June column.
For over 20 years, helping teachers become effective has been the passion of the Wongs. Writing for teachers.net is just one of the many ways they reach out to educators with their ideas on how effective teachers improve student learning.
About Harry & Rosemary Wong...
Harry and Rosemary Wong are teachers. Harry is a native of San Francisco and taught middle school and high school science. Rosemary is a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school media coordinator and student activity director.
Harry Wong has been awarded the Horace Mann Outstanding Educator Award, the National Teachers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal. He was selected as one of the most admired people in education by the readers of Instructor magazine. Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award. She was also honored as a Distinguished Alumnus from her alma maters, Southeastern Louisiana University and Louisiana State University.
Harry and Rosemary have been awarded the Upton Sinclair Award and were nominated for the Brock International Prize in Education.
Harry Wong is the most sought after speaker in education today. He has been called "Mr. Practicality" for his common sense, user-friendly, no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success. Over a million teachers worldwide have heard his message. Today, Rosemary speaks along with Harry. In spite of their heavily booked schedule, Harry and Rosemary have agreed to write this monthly column so that more people can hear their message.
How They Develop Effective Teachers...
Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to developing effective teachers, one teacher at a time.
To do this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO.
Their new audio CD set, How to Be an Effective and Successful Teacher, was recorded live before 800 teachers in St. Louis. Listen as they walk you through classrooms that hum with learning and share how you can replicate the same success in your classroom. In 2 hours and 40 minutes, Harry and Rosemary can transform you into a very effective and successful teacher at no cost!
This presentation has transformed the lives and teaching success of hundreds of thousands of teachers.Learn how to
Begin the school year with a plan
Start class immediately
Have a well-organized and structured classroom
Reduce discipline problems
Have students who are engaged and working
Teach procedures and responsibility
Maximize classroom instructional time
Use lesson objectives so students know what they are to learn
Use rubrics to assess for student learning
Deal with at-risk students
Improve student learning and achievement
The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 3.6 million copies have been sold. It is used in 116 countries, 2,027 colleges, and most every new teacher induction program. The new, fourth edition includes:
An additional chapter on procedures
A new chapter on assessment with rubrics.
A new chapter on Professional Learning Teams
A new chapter for administrators on implementation
Additional information in Going Beyond Folders
A new DVD, Using THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL, presented by Chelonnda Seroyer
The Wongs have also produced the DVD series, The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award in the International Film and Video Festival.
They also have a successful eLearning course, Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong. The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience. The outcome of the course is a 2 inch binder with a personalized Classroom Management Action Plan.
This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan used by all effective teachers. Details for the classroom management course can be seen at www.ClassroomManagement.com.
You can hear Harry Wong LIVE on a set of CDs, called
How to Improve Student Achievement, recorded at one
of his many presentations. He invites you to steal from him the secrets of effective teaching for all grade levels.
Never Cease to Learn has the power to transform your
attitude and your life. In this DVD, Harry shares his journey on the road to success and tells listeners how to become the educators they were meant to be.
When the book, video series, CD, DVD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective professional development training tool for producing effective teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers. Information about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website at www.EffectiveTeaching.com or www.HarryWong.com.
Helping you produce effective teachers is our passion.