by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Special to the Gazette
February 1, 2009
To Be an Effective Teacher Simply Copy and Paste
Bev Wahl started her teaching career like so many of us did—taking over for a teacher in the middle of a school year. For many first year teachers, this is a doomsday scenario.
So what happened to Bev Wahl that she is now in her third year of teaching and thriving? It’s a two part answer.
She was fortunate to be hired by the Prairie Rose School Division in Alberta, Canada. She immediately became part of the division’s new teacher induction program.
She took our advice and read Unit C on Classroom Management from our book and various teachers.net columns. She put together her plan and sent it to us to review.
At the end of her partial year, she was rehired to start her first full year in the classroom. Bev shares, “I went to the interview prepared with a list of procedures and routines necessary for a Grade 2 class as well as a plan for the first day of school.
The interview committee was so impressed they even asked to keep a copy of my plan!”
Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation she shared with her class at the start of this school year.
From the beginning, Bev Wahl took what other effective teachers were doing and applied it to her teaching situation.
Positive Results for All
Let’s gets to the point. A teacher must produce results. A school must produce results. The students must learn and the overwhelming research says that there is only one way to produce student learning and student results.
It is with an effective teacher.
For the past eight years we have been featuring effective teachers, administrators, and schools. Their plans and procedures are all outlined in print. What they do is not unique; what they do is easily replicable.
All teachers can be just as effective as the teachers featured through the years in this column.
How? They are trained to be effective.
Prairie Rose, a Highly Effective School District
This is the story of Lowell Leffler, Deputy Superintendent of the Prairie Rose School Division in Alberta, Canada, and how the division teachers are developed into effective teachers.
What they did to Bev Wahl and continue to do with all their new hires is replicable.
Teach the teachers well and they will teach the students well.
It is a no-brainer that an effective school district or school has a professional development program to continually upgrade the effectiveness of their teachers. The first several years of such a professional development program is called an “induction program,” a process used to train new teachers to become effective teachers and to acculturate them into the goals, mission, and curriculum of the school district. Lowell further says, " I am hearing teachers say that because of our induction program, they feel the obligation to give back to the Division and the rest of the TEAM. Even relatively new teachers are looking at getting their Master's degrees with the hopes of one day getting into administration.
The Prairie Rose Induction Program has eight components.Click here to see these components.
To see other examples of induction programs, please click here and at the end of the linked article you can view these induction programs:
Noted researcher, Richard Ingersoll has reported that effective induction programs have seven or more components. While many school systems rely on one-on-one mentoring as their entire induction program; in reality, it is but one small component of a larger group of assets used to train and acculturate teachers. Click here to read the research.
Lowell shares with us, “The induction program, your book, the videos, and CDs have been tremendous for helping get our new teachers off to a great start. But the biggest factor, overall, that has affected Prairie Rose, is your online classroom management course.Click hereto learn about the course.
“I am so pleased our schools have responded so positively.”
A teacher in the Prairie Rose School Division writes,
“From the online course, I learned how to implement procedures in my classroom. It has made everything flow smoothly and has allowed for maximum learning to occur.”
Lowell says that the feedback he has received tells him the online course was most valuable when teachers had opportunities to discuss things together and share ideas within the entire staff.
He says, “I facilitated a session of all our first-year teachers, along with some administrators and veteran teachers and we completed the course together.
“The interaction and sharing was unbelievable. While the course is set up to be done individually, we have found it to be much more valuable when entire staffs take it together and end up all teaching and reinforcing the same procedures and routines.
“I am seeing entire staffs now adopting school-wide routines and the feedback I get from them is why they haven’t done this sooner. It is making all their lives easier.
“While there is value in taking this course individually, the benefits of doing it together are exponentially greater. I have seen firsthand the benefits obtained when staffs are on the same page implementing common procedures and routines. It is so much fun to see that we have reached that ‘critical mass’ where one or two ‘negative’ individuals cannot derail the process.
“It has been very interesting to see the impact that these new teachers have made on the rest of their schools. The veteran teachers have seen the successes that they have enjoyed with the implementation of their routines. So much so, that it has become a relatively easy sell to convince the whole staff to take the online course together.
“As good as the course is for individual teachers, the impact of it is magnified many times over when you have an entire staff sitting down and planning their school routines as a staff.”
A Collaborative School
Lowell tells of a school that has done a 180 degree turn. Because the teachers had taken the online course together, the whole staff spent much of the weekend before the beginning of a new school year planning some common routines. By the end of the weekend’s work, they had completed a common PowerPoint template that all could modify to start off their first class. They even went so far as to have the same seating plan in every classroom.
Some teachers at this school, Parkside Junior High School, shared, “We decided as a staff to have school-wide rules and procedures in place in order to keep consistency within our classrooms and school. We have found collaboration and a common direction vital to establishing structure within our school. This has been very beneficial for the first year teachers since we have new strategies to try, while the veteran teachers have the experience to implement them. Together, we have created an effective learning community of mutual respect, support and order.
“The first step we took to accomplish this task was to have a staff meeting to come to an agreement on general school-wide policies and procedures. This included common rules, expectations, and consequences. We all agreed to implement, enforce, and display these in our classrooms.”
The teachers created PowerPoint presentations using examples from various teachers.net. columns. They shared their presentations through email with the entire staff and each individual teacher then adapted these presentations to suit their personal requirements within their classroom.
Two of these are presented here. Danelle Wist is a first-year teacher and Lloyd Bray is a veteran teacher with 20+ years of experience. Their PowerPoint presentations are a little different, but overall very consistent. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Copy and paste ideas that work and adapt them to your classroom.
Lowell leads the induction process. He says, “I have worked with several of our staffs in the last couple of months to go through the Classroom Management course together with them. It is amazing how there is just as much positive feedback coming from the veteran teachers as there is from the rookies.
“Experienced teachers will come up to me after and tell me that while they really didn’t want to go through the course, they now realize how it is probably the best professional development they have ever been involved with.”
Lowell is so pleased with the induction process that it has affected veteran as well as new teachers.
He says, “When I talked to each staff member, it is like they have died and gone to heaven. When you walk down the halls now, you see teachers out in the hallways talking to students and smiling faces on the students. Between the online course and the new teacher induction program, the students don’t have a chance. But from what I hear, the students are, also, loving things the way they now are.
Dramatic Interest in Administration Lowell reports that since implementing their induction program and the online classroom management course he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of teachers expressing an interest in administration. He says that he does not know what the trend is in the States, but in Alberta they are finding less people willing to take on the added responsibilities of administration.
Lowell further says, “I am hearing teachers say that because of our induction program, they feel the obligation to give back to the Division and the rest of the TEAM. Even
relatively new teachers are looking at getting their Master’s degrees with the hopes of one day getting into administration.
“I don’t know if anyone else has noticed the same thing, but it is something that we are very grateful for as we are finding that we can rely less on leadership coming from outside the jurisdiction.”
Lowell recently retired but remains as a consultant to his school division. He is also available to consult with schools or school districts desiring to create an effective induction program. He can be contacted at Teachers in Training at [email protected].
The Outcome Is Clear
Students learn from effective teachers and effective school districts and schools train their teachers to be effective.
For the past three years we have had the pleasure of communicating with several administrators and teachers in the Prairie Rose School Division. Their enthusiasm is high and their results are equally as high. This past November the Minister of Education presented Prairie Rose with the Minister's Education Leadership Recognition Award. Overall, the Division was recognized for maintaining excellence or making significant improvement in the quality of education of its students.
When administrators and teachers see the success of others in their system, it is easy to get them on board. The collaborative process at Prairie Rose began teacher to teacher, grew to school to school, and now is a division-wide effort. All of the schools agreed to one common procedure. That ended being bellwork. Students can go grade to grade, school to school, and expect the class to start with bellwork. Lowell shares that they hope now to go beyond bellwork and establish more common procedures to implement across the division.
Copy and Paste
What Prairie Rose is doing is easy to replicate. In the new fourth edition of The First Days of School, the “Epilogue” has been written to help administrators and teacher-leaders with guidelines on how to implement the techniques presented in The First Days of School.
Many of the past teachers.net columns feature schools and the steps taken to create successful learning environments for the students.
It is clear in all of the research; it is the teacher that makes the difference in a classroom. For teachers just starting out or teachers that got lost along the way, find a teacher similar to you in our work and use them as your model for success. You’ll discover some common threads—call them the Three Cs to Effectiveness—Consistency, Clear procedures, and Communication of a caring, learning environment.
We invite you to do the Fourth C—Copy from the effective teacher and paste it into your teaching repertoire to become the Effective Teacher you were meant to be.
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.