most important factor in improved student learning is with an effective
teacher. Written ten times a year, Harry and Rosemary Wong
feature effective teachers and administrators and what they do to
enhance student learning. The columns provide specific strategies
and activities that you can download and use. An archive of
past articles can be found at the end of every column.
strategies and activities are all based on the teachings and works
of Harry and Rosemary Wong and they are happy to share with the
profession the work of effective teachers. If you have an
effective strategy or technique that works, please share this by
sending it to [email protected].
The Wongs will consider it for sharing in future Effective Teaching
About Harry and Rosemary
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.
Wong has been awarded the Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the
Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology
Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal. He was
recently selected as one of the most admired people in the world
of education by 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
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
a million teachers worldwide have heard his message. Because
he is fully booked for two years, he has agreed to and has invited
his wife to join him in doing a monthly column for teachers.net
so that more people can hear their message.
About Their Work...
Harry and Rosemary
Wong are committed to bringing quality and dignity to the materials
they produce. For this, they have formed their own publishing company,
of which Rosemary is the CEO. They have dedicated their lives
to leaving a legacy in education and making a difference in the
lives of teachers and students.
Their latest contribution
to helping teachers succeed is an 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 successful
teachers. Details for the classroom management course can
be seen at www.ClassroomManagement.com.
The Wongs have written
The First Days of School, the best-selling
book ever in education. Over 3 million copies have been sold.
The third edition
of The First Days of School includes an
added bonus, an Enhanced CD featuring Harry Wong. The Enhanced CD,
Never Cease to Learn, is dedicated to
those teachers who know that the more they learn, the more effective
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 have released
a new set of CDs with Harry Wong LIVE, called How
to Improve Student Achievement, recorded at one of
his many presentations. He is the most sought after speaker
in education and his presentations are legendary.
When the book, video
series, CD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the
most effective staff training tool for developing 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
The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never
Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$23.96 from Amazon.com More
The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong
Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators,
Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education
by Peter M. Senge (Editor), Nelda H. Cambron McCabe, Timothy Lucas,
Art Kleiner, Janis Dutton, Bryan Smith
a Teaching Job in a Tight Market, Part 1
You're graduating from college and you want a teaching job. Yet, you've heard all this talk about tight budgets and teachers being given pink slips.
But, thanks to the Internet, you can actually find jobs, complete applications online, and even find out about the district that will be interviewing you.
It is essential that you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.
The marketplace has become stiff again and you need to put your best foot forward. You can do this by impressing the interviewer that you are knowledgeable about the district. Write ahead or call personally and obtain literature about the school district. Go on the Internet as many school districts have their own web site. Go to a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo, and you may find hundreds of articles about the district. In fact, if you go in with some information that the interviewer may not know, that will enhance your chance for employment. People like to be noticed, just as you like to be noticed.
Researching a school district is essential. It's best not to walk into an interview not knowing a thing about the prospective school district. For one, how will you even know if you want to teach in a particular district if you are not knowledgeable about the district? It's like taking a trip and not knowing a thing about where you are going. Always walk into your interview having done your research, because the next person who has done so will have an advantage over you, if you are unprepared.
Before stepping into an interview, you should be able to answer the following questions:
What are the demographics of the school population?
What is the district's mission?
How many employees does the district have?
How do the district's test scores compare with the state average?
Does the district have a new teacher induction program?
Does the district have a curriculum guide?
When you go in for an interview, the obvious item to have with you is your portfolio. Perhaps you've seen people with these rather large, thin folders that have a handle at the top. Artists, architects, designers, and graphic artists carry them to show samples of their work when they go to see a prospective client. This is their portfolio. The district where you are going for your interview is your prospective client and they will want to see samples of your work and even read letters from your past administrators, parents, and students. Bring your portfolio---organize it, tab it, and be prepared to turn to a few salient items.
Now for the insider tip! This is something we've learned from new teachers. Several have told us that they walk in for an interview with a copy of The First Days of School. These teachers told us that they didn't wave the book around; it just sat on top of their portfolio. Since over two million copies have been sold, most all administrators know this book. If they find out you are knowledgeable of its contents, you will have enhanced your employment opportunity.
Because they affect your success as a teacher, there are two questions you must ask during the interview.
Does the district have a new teacher induction program?
Does the district have a curriculum guide that is aligned to state standards?
Induction Program: It is imperative that you ask if
the district has an induction program. First, a district with
an induction program demonstrates that they care enough about
you that they will train and support you with the intention of
retaining you. That concept is inherent in the title of the book,
New Teacher Induction: How To Train, Support, and Retain
New Teachers. (http://teachers.net/wong/FEB03/spotlight.html)
A district that simply gives you a teaching assignment and sends you forth to teach is a district with the attitude that you are expendable and another teacher can be found to replace you. Many of you have invested tens of thousands of dollars, if not over one hundred thousand dollars, in your education and you want to use that investment to make a difference in the lives of your students. You can be as successful as the many teachers we have described in our monthly Teachers.Net Gazette columns. However, do not be so naïve as to think that you can go it alone without an induction program.
Second, here are some eye-opening statistics. The following districts devote three or more years to an induction program. In the 2000-2001 school year
Lafourche Parish Schools, Louisiana
Lost 1 teacher out of 46 hired
Islip Public Schools, New York
Lost 3 teachers out of 68 hired
Leyden High School District, Illinois
Lost 4 teachers out of 90 hired
Geneva Community Schools, New York
Lost 5 teachers out of 67 hired
Newport-Mesa School District, California
Lost 5 teachers out of 148 hired
The truth is, up to 17 percent of the new teachers in urban schools will leave the profession in their first year and 50 percent of all other teachers will leave the profession within five years. There is absolutely no reason why any of you should be one of these statistics, because there are districts with organized, sustained professional development programs in place to train and support you as you develop into an effective teacher. Teaching is a developmental process and it takes five to seven years to grow into an effective teacher.
Since it takes years to develop into a successful teacher, the successful
teachers are the ones who can't sop up enough information at induction
meetings. Tragically, many districts do not provide organized opportunities for
teachers to learn and grow. So, these teachers leave the profession after a few
years believing that they do not need to learn. If you dare to teach, you
must never cease to learn.
Mentoring Is Not Induction
Beware if a district tells you they will only give you a mentor. A mentor is important, but to succeed you need more than a mentor. You need a comprehensive induction program.
At a recent convention of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Susan Moore Johnson, director of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education said,
"Mentoring is all the rage. But the truth is that mentoring pairs seldom are anything but haphazard. They are driven by the schedule. They are often not pairs of people who really know the subjects that the individual is teaching. All the teachers in Massachusetts were supposed to have mentors, and we would say, 'Do you have a mentor?' 'Oh, yes I have a mentor.' 'Well, tell me about the mentor.' 'Well, I have not seen the mentor since the first week of school. My mentor teaches across town,' or 'My mentor teaches on the other side of the building. I am science. She is special ed.' It is just story after story of people who, within the context of a school and the schedule and the constraints of space, never saw their mentors or got very little assistance, or felt like their mentors taught in ways that were totally alien to them."
Jon Saphier, in his book Beyond Mentoring(note the word "beyond") says this about mentoring:
For too many teachers, the mentoring pairing process results in a "blind date." The teachers do not know each other and neither partner has input into the pairing.
Mentors alone cannot hope to provide the range of input, feedback, and support beginning teachers need.
The ad hoc, informal nature of traditional mentoring scenarios relies heavily on the initiative, instincts, and good will of the veteran teacher and the protégé.
A comprehensive induction program involves more than just mentors. We need to go beyond mentoring.
A well-designed induction program is essentially excellent staff development.
Effective induction programs inherently work to transform the culture of a school.
Leslie Huling, who has written extensively on induction and mentoring says,
Simply assigning a mentor teacher does little to remedy the situation of teachers becoming discouraged and leaving the profession. Induction and mentoring must go hand-in-hand. You cannot do one without the other.
But some educators continue talking about using mentors to retain teachers as if this method has received the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval," yet no one has ever been able to produce "scientifically accurate" data to substantiate its success.
Educators never talk about what happens to the new teacher after a year when the mentor has outlived his or her usefulness; what happens if a school loses 50 percent of their teachers annually; and who is in charge of orchestrating the entire mentoring process. In many schools the principal acts like a taxi company dispatcher, dispatching a veteran teacher to buddy up with a neophyte teacher. Since teacher development is a continuous process, what is needed is a formalized, sustained process known as induction. Mentoring is not induction; it is a component of induction.
Those of us who are knowledgeable about the induction process know that teachers learn best not from mentors, but from watching others teach. Thus, many induction programs have model classrooms. We also know new teachers learn much better in networks and collegial sessions, where the viewpoints of veteran and neophyte teachers are respected.
What Everyone Else Knows and Does
We are not going to attempt to understand why it has taken education so long to recognize what other industries recognize almost from the start---training matters. Formalized, sustained training matters. For instance, in the private and non-profit sector, training is a part of every company's plan.
For instance, when Kyle Taylor graduated from California State University at Northridge with a degree in finance and accounting, he considered and entertained offers from such renowned companies as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche, and Sobul, Primes & Schenkel. His final decision was not based on pay, location, or position. He selected the company he felt had the best training program. He knew that the training plan would prepare him for his next job.
In education we do not provide nearly enough, if any, training, for our teachers. And many new teachers do not realize---until it's too late---just how lacking they are in basic teaching skills. As they begin their life's career, college graduates in the business world look to the companies that offer them the best training, for they know their future successes and rewards are contingent on their initial training. Company executives also know they can retain well-trained employees who will reward them. New teachers should expect no less!
Nicole Tripi will graduate from the University of New Orleans next year. She has already asked us, her godparents, where she should go to teach. We know where there are job openings. We know where the good salaries are---starting at over $40,000 a year. We know where she can find supportive administrators. We know where she can find affordable housing. We know where she can raise her child in a good community.
Nonetheless, we know of a school district where the salary will be average. Some students will be challenging. The heat and humidity along the bayous can be unforgiving. But we can't think of a better way for her to receive her initial training and get started correctly than to be trained by the four people who run the Lafourche Parish induction program in Louisiana. Her future is dependent on starting successfully, under the tutelage of caring and supportive people. And because their attrition rate is less than 8 percent, she will succeed in the Lafourche Parish Public Schools. In the 2000--2001 school year, they only lost one teacher and all of their teachers passed the Louisiana State Teachers Assessment test. What a wonderful way to begin a career!
Therefore, in your interview, ask if the district has a formalized induction program. Ask how long the program runs. Most importantly, ask what is the attrition rate of their new teachers.
Second Question to Ask
It's a tragedy. When a teacher leaves a school, that teacher takes everything with him or her and leaves nothing behind. So, when the new teacher comes aboard, that teacher has nothing to reference and has to start all over again at square one. There is no file, no box, no notes, nothing. You would think that all of the past teachers would have left copies of their lesson plans, activities, and tests. That seldom happens.
Worse yet, the school district often times has a mismatched set of concepts that are labeled curriculum guides. Beginning teachers usually have to ask for these items as they have been boxed up and carted away with the departing teacher's belongings.
It is not your position to develop the curriculum. That is the district's responsibility. It is your charge to deliver the curriculum. Can you imagine American Airlines telling their pilots that they can make up their own flight plans?
The second question you need to ask is: Does your district have a curriculum guide and
is the curriculum guide aligned to state standards, and
are there suggested activities and lesson plans for you to follow?
In next month's column, we'll talk about the importance of teaching in a school with a well-defined curriculum guide.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Employment times are tight. If you truly want to be a teacher, you must make your potential employer realize your desire. The fact that you are reading this Teachers.Net article puts you far ahead of many of today's candidates. You are eager to learn, informed, and dedicated to self-improvement.
During your interview be a namedropper---mention Teachers.Net, The First Days of School, even Harry Wong! Show what you're capable of producing with your portfolio. Dress professionally. Project confidence. Sparkle with passion. Speak positively of children and their potential.
Your thoroughness in the interview process will reward you with the noblest of all careers. The teaching profession wants you and needs you. Welcome!
For a printable version of this article click