by Harry and Rosemary Wong
A Journey of the Heart
"Several years ago when I was a new teacher, I was given your book and I can't begin to tell you the impact it had on my life and the lives of the children I teach.
"Today, I am a seasoned teacher of 10 years, working on my Ed.D. at Rutgers and going through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards process. I am so glad your book was there to get me started on this journey of the heart."
North Brunswick, New Jersey
Perhaps when you entered the profession, you never realized the dramatic impact you could make in the life of a child. Your love for children, the faith and expectation you have that your students are capable of anything, all manage to touch the very heart of a child.
However, your deep commitment to the profession often tears at the heart.
"I have taught children with drug-related problems for the last three years. I am totally frustrated. It takes a minimum of 20 minutes to teach the children to line up correctly. So much instructional time is lost each day just going over the basics of behavior. A lesson that would take five to ten minutes with a regular class, would take me at least two days of hour-long lessons and I am lucky if one-third of the class has learned the lesson. And if the lessons are interesting, they become so excited they cannot control themselves."
This letter goes on with an urgent appeal for help and a sense of hopelessness because the circumstances are so overwhelming. (We hope to address this topic in a future column.)
Teaching is a journey of the heart. Some days your heart is full of spirit and is uplifted and other times your heart feels trampled upon and crushed. So how do you overcome being overwhelmed and get on the road to recovery?
Our advice is "Try Your Very Best." If you reach just one student, your entire teaching career will have been rewarding. You will never know which one student it will be and the one who you think you never reached will be the one who comes back some day to thank you. So don't give up.
Your legacy as a teacher is to make one difference, one student at a time.
Try Your Very Best
We found this in a Farmer's Insurance magazine in 1984 and kept it.
I write this in tribute to Mildred Grote, who, in 1962, was the sixth-grade teacher and librarian at Public School 94 in the Bronx, New York. We used to claim her heavy makeup kept her perpetual smile in place. And smile she did-even in our class. This was no ordinary sixth-grade class; this was the Educable Mentally Retarded (EMR ) class, the last way station for the trouble-makers, problem children, and lost souls of P.S. 94. I was the only girl from my fifth grade class to be placed in that class. I lost all of my school friends from previous grades because no one wanted to associate with a 'dummy'; consequently I was sullen and withdrawn.
"After the usual barrage of Iowa Skills Tests, Miss Grote informed me she was going to seek my transfer out of her class. 'You don't belong here, my dear,' she said, and began a year-long losing battle to get me out. In the interim, I was sent to the library daily on special assignments. While my classmates played games, I read, wrote book reports, did extra work assignments, and research projects.
"My resentment-already considerable -was increased tenfold when she would smile and say, 'This isn't good enough, dear. You are not working to your potential. Rewrite this, and do another one as well.'
"I was never transferred, and perhaps that was the best thing that could have happened to me. 'You can be anything you want, my dear,' she said, 'if you try your very best.'
"I will be completing my Ph.D. soon, and I can see her smile and hear her saying, 'I told you so, my dear.' "
La Jolla, California
Mildred Grote was quite a teacher. She saw potential and kept trying her very best to influence and inspire Judith to achieve her potential. But the story does not stop here.
We've shared this story while delivering lectures with thousands of teachers. We began to wonder (as you sometimes do with your former students!) whatever happened to Judith Liu. We managed to track her down and following is the rest of the story.
"I thought you might be interested in a postscript to that article that was written in 1984.
"I graduated from the Ph.D. program in Sociology at the University of California (USD), San Diego in 1985. I was fortunate enough to obtain a teaching position at the University of San Diego where I have been for the past sixteen years.
"In 1991, I was awarded the California Professor of the Year award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
"In USD's publication about the award, I mentioned how Miss Grote was such an inspiration to me. Miss Grote was a turning point in my life; without her dedication and hard work, I would never have succeeded."
The Significance of a Teacher
Research consistently shows that educational fads and innovations are not the major factors for improving student achievement. The only factor that is able to consistently impact student achievement is the significance of a teacher.
If you have taught for over 20 years, then you will understand that teary-eyed, emotional experience that you call the greatest day of your life-when a former student comes back to see you.
You're working away and this strange face appears in the doorway. You think it's a salesperson. So, you say, "Yes?"
"Mrs. Riley?" says the person at the door.
You're still apprehensive, but you again say, "Yes."
"Keith. Keith Marlowe. I was in your 3rd grade class 27 years ago and sat in that chair." He points. "Remember?"
You don't but you fake it. "Oh, yes. How are you?" you reply.
Keith walks toward you and says, "I'm fine. I don't live here any more. I live 2000 miles away, but my parents are still here and I came back this weekend to visit them. As I was driving to the airport, I noticed I had some time, so I drove over here and I'm happy that I found you."
"For you see. I am who I am today; I am where I am today; and I am what I am today because of what you represented to me 27 years ago.
"And I've come to simply say, 'Thank you, Mrs. Riley.'"
Then he turns around and walks out of your life forever. And you are standing there, choking, tears streaming down you face. For you see, there are two kinds of people who go into education.
- Some people go into teaching because it's a job and in exchange they get a paycheck and medical benefits.
- Others people go into education to make a difference in the lives of children and in exchange they leave a legacy.
Who Are the Loving Teachers?
We have been talking since June, 2000, about managing a classroom with procedures and routines. When you have procedures, you have a classroom that has structure. A classroom that has structure is a consistent classroom. The students know how the room functions and there is no yelling or screaming. As a sixth grader told us, "I like coming to this school (we'll tell you about this fabulous school in a future column), because everyone knows what to do, so there is no yelling and we can get on with learning."
The best part about having an organized structure in the classroom is that the teacher can innovate, experiment, be creative, have fun, and most importantly, be funny, caring, and loving. This type of classroom environment shows to the students, parents, principal, school board, and the community the passion you have for education and your desire and expectation for student achievement.
So, who are the most loving teachers? They are the ones who know how to set up a relationship with the students; they are the ones who have classrooms that are organized, structured, and well managed. Thus, they have time to be loving.
How Do You Spell Love
How do you spell love to a child? "T-I-M-E."
A loving teacher is not necessarily someone who even uses the word love in the classroom. Love is conveyed. One of the best ways to convey love for your job and love for your students is by inviting your students to come and learn. This concept called, "Invitational Education" is described in chapter 9, "How to Invite Students to Learn," in The First Days of School.
When you send an invitational message to your students you are saying, "You are important to me as a person." If the concept of Invitational Education appeals to you and you would like more information, please write to Dr. William Purkey, Alliance for Invitational Education, UNC Greensboro, Curry Building, Greensboro, NC 27412.
To William Purkey and Betty Siegel, who are the movers behind the concept of invitational education, we thank them and credit them for such invitational thoughts as:
- Every new school year is an invitation to success.
- At heart, every student wants to be invited.
- Opportunities are everywhere, but nothing happens until invitations are sent.
- Invitations are like gifts; to exist they must be given.
- An invitation is a choice someone made and a chance that someone took.
- People want to be affirmed in their present value and invited to realize their potential.
- Inviting actions speak louder than inviting words.
- To invite is to include; to be included is everything.
- Life loves the person who accepts the invitation to live it.
- Many invitations are not accepted because they were never received.
- To love is to act lovingly; to care is to act caringly.
- The door to a student's heart opens quietly; listen carefully.
All of these thoughts take time to implement, but oh the love behind the action.
From Your Valentine
From our first June column titled "Your First Day" through to January's "The Miracle of Teaching" each month we searched our hearts and minds for kernels of hope, opportunity, and love to share with you. (To access all of our past columns, go the bottom of the left margin and click on "Gazette Back Issues.")
Learning is fundamentally social.
The relationship between children and their teachers
isn't incidental, but rather is
the central component of their learning.
Human development occurs within the context of real relationships.
We learn from whom we love.
- Lev S. Vygotsky
It's difficult to establish relationships with only words. But it is our hope that you've sensed our love for the profession. We devote our full energies to helping teachers.
When St. Valentine was imprisoned, he fell in love with the blind daughter of the jailer. His love for her and his enduring faith managed to heal her blindness before he was put to death. He left behind a message of hope and love for this girl to read. And he signed the message "From your Valentine," a phrase we have been using through the centuries to celebrate his day.
We invite you to leave messages for your students this year and tell them of your faith in them and the desire for achievement. Sign it "From your Valentine" and touch their hearts on your journey of the heart.
From your Valentines. . . .
Past Gazette Articles by Harry & Rosemary Wong:
If you spot a link that appears to be out-of-date, please alert us at email@example.com!
- A Grateful Goodbye After 15 Years (Jun 2015)
- Love, Marriage, and Babies, Oh My! (May 2015)
- Retention Rate Is 100 Percent (Apr 2015)
- Teacher Effectiveness and Human Capital (Mar 2015)
- Training Teachers to Be Effective (Feb 2015)
- Making Deals Is Ineffective (Dec 2014 / Jan 2015)
- Retrieving and Carrying Electronic Devices (Nov 2014)
- Sharing to Succeed (Oct 2014)
- How a University Prepares Its Students (Sep 2014)
- Effective Teaching (Aug 2014)
- Your Future Is in Your Hands (June/July 2014)
- The Classroom Management Book (May 2014)
- When Students Succeed; Teachers Succeed (April 2014)
- Teaching New Teachers How to Succeed (March 2014)
- Execute and Praise (February 2014)
- Shaping a Solid Foundation (Dec 2013 / Jan 2014)
- The Most Misunderstood Word (November 2013)
- How to Start Class Every Day (October 2013)
- Prevention: The Key to Solving Discipline Problems (September 2013)
- Planning, Planning, Planning (August 2013)
- Are You THE One? (June / July 2013)
- Practical Examples That Work (May 2013)
- A Disability Is Not a Handicap (Apr 2013)
- Totally Inexcusable (Mar 2013)
- Be Proud of Public Education (Feb 2013)
- Structure Will Motivate Students (Dec 2012 / Jan2013)
- Orchestrating the Classroom (Nov 2012)
- The Lasting Impact of Instructional Coaching (Oct 2012)
- Learning, Laughing, and Leaving a Legacy (Sep 2012)
- Twenty-two, First Year, and Legit (Aug 2012)
- A Master Teacher of Teachers (June/July 2012)
- Where Going to School Means Success (May 2012)
- A Nationally Celebrated High School (Apr 2012)
- The Highest Rated School in New York City, Part 2 (Mar 2012)
- The Highest Rated School in New York City, Part 1 (Feb 2012)
- The Importance of Culture (Dec 2011 / Jan 2012)
- You Can Teach Classroom Management (Nov 2011)
- Seamless, Transparent, and Consistent (Oct 2011)
- Coaching Teachers to Be Effective Instructors (Sep 2011)
- How a Principal Creates a Culture of Consistency (Aug 2011)
- Graduation Begins in Your Classroom (June/July 2011)
- The Inspiration of a Mother (May 2011)
- How to Be an Effective Leader (Apr 2011)
- Learning Objectives: The Heart of Every Lesson (Mar 2011)
- Even Shakespeare Had Structure (Feb 2011)
- Effectiveness Defined: It's Not a Mystery (Dec 2010 / Jan 2011)
- Surviving Without a Principal (Nov 2010)
- Achieving Greatness: Locke Elementary School, Part 2 (Oct 2010)
- Teaching Greatness: Locke Elementary School, Part 1 (Sep 2010)
- Effective from the Start (Aug 2010)
- Ten Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2010 (June/July 2010)
- The Success of a Culture of Consistency (May 2010)
- Training Teachers to Be Effective (Apr 2010)
- Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn (Mar 2010)
- Turning Teaching Dreams into Reality (Feb 2010)
- Dreams and Wishes Can Come True (Dec 2009 / Jan 2010)
- Success in a State Controlled School (Nov 2009)
- Inner City Is Not An Excuse (Oct 2009)
- Exceeding All Expectations (Sep 2009)
- Teachers Are the Difference (Aug 2009)
- Nine Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2009 (Jun/Jul 2009)
- Teachers Are the Greatest Assets (May 2009)
- The Tools for Success (Apr 2009)
- Assessing for Student Learning (Mar 2009)
- To Be an Effective Teacher Simply Copy and Paste (Feb 2009)
- The Sounds of Students Learning and Performing (Dec 2008)
- A School That Achieves Greatness (Nov 2008)
- Boaz City Schools: Professional Learning Teams (Oct 2008)
- It Was Something Close to a Miracle (Sep 2008)
- A Computer Teacher Shows the Way (Aug 2008)
- Eight Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2008 (Jun/Jul 2008)
- An Amazing Kindergarten Teacher (May 2008)
- Schools That Beat the Academic Odds (Apr 2008)
- Academic Coaching Produces More Effective Teachers (Mar 2008)
- Coaches Are More Effective than Mentors (Feb 2008)
- Wrapping the Year with Rap! (Dec 2007/Jan 2008)
- The Floating Teacher (Nov 2007)
- Taking the Bite Out of Assessment—Using Scoring Guides (Oct 2007)
- Ten Timely Tools for Success on the First Days of School (Sep 2007)
- First Day of School Script - in Spanish, Too! (Aug 2007)
- Seven Year Summary of Articles, 2000 to 2007 (Jun 2007)
- Effective Teachers End the Year Successfully (May 2007)
- Training Gen Y Teachers for Maximum Effectiveness (Apr 2007)
- Classroom Management Applies to All Teachers (Mar 2007)
- Students Want a Sense of Direction (Feb 2007)
- Rubrics in Two College Classes (Dec 2006/Jan 2007)
- How to Write a Rubric (Nov 2006)
- Assessing Student Progress with a Rubric (Oct 2006)
- A 92 Percent Homework Turn-in Rate (Sep 2006)
- Effective Teachers Are Proactive (Aug 2006)
- Five Year Summary of Articles (Jun 2006)
- Hitting the Bulls Eye as a Beginning Teacher (May 2006)
- They're Eager to Do the Assignments (Apr 2006)
- The Success of Special Ed Teachers (Mar 2006)
- What Teachers Have Accomplished (Feb 2006)
- Fifty Years Ago, The Legacy (Dec 2005/Jan 2006)
- The Emergency Teacher (Nov 2005)
- Classroom Management Is Not Discipline (Oct 2005)
- A Successful First Day Is No Secret (Sep 2005)
- The Most Important Factor (Aug 2005)
- Four Year Summary of Articles (Jul 2005)
- Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 2) (Jun 2005)
- Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 1) (May 2005)
- Never Cease to Learn (Apr 2005)
- His Classroom Is a Real Life Office (Mar 2005)
- The Power of Procedures (Feb 2005)
- The First Ten Days of School (Jan 2005)
- PowerPoint Procedures (Nov/Dec 2004)
- The Saints of Education (Oct 2004)
- How Procedures Saved a Teacher's Life (Sep 2004)
- How to Help Students with Their Assignments (Aug 2004)
- Three Year Summary of Articles (Jun/Jul 2004)
- His Students are All Certified (May 2004)
- What to Do When They Complain (Apr 2004)
- A Well-Oiled Learning Machine (Mar 2004)
- The Effective Teacher Adapts (Feb 2004)
- How to Start a Lesson Plan (Aug 2003)
- Applying for a Teaching Job in a Tight Market - Part 2 (Jun/Jul 2003)
- Applying for a Teaching Job in a Tight Market (May 2003)
- The Effective Substitute Teacher (Apr 2003)
- A First Day of School Script (Mar 2003)
- How to Retain New Teachers (Feb 2003)
- No Problem With Hurricane Lili (Dec 2002)
- A Class Size of 500 (Nov 2002)
- Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers (Oct 2002)
- Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds (Sept 2002)
- How To Start School Successfully (Aug 2002)
- Teaching Procedures Is Teaching Expectations (June - July 2002)
- $50,000 to Replace Each Teacher (May 2002)
- Even Superintendents Do It (Apr 2002)
- Impossible, No Job Openings? (Mar 2002)
- A Stress Free Teacher (Feb 2002)
- A Most Effective School (Jan 2002)
- Van Gogh in Nine Hours (Dec 2001)
- The Effective Teacher Thinks (Nov 2001)
- How a Good University Can Help You (Sep 2001)
- How to Motivate Your Students (May 2001)
- How to Recognize Where You Want to Be (Apr 2001)
- What Successful New Teachers Are Taught (Mar 2001)
- A Journey of the Heart (Feb 2001)
- The Miracle of Teachers (Jan 2001)
- It's Not the Students. It's the Teacher. (Dec 2000)
- The First Five Minutes Are Critical (Nov 2000)
- How to Start a Class Effectively (Oct 2000)
- The Problem Is Not Discipline (Sep 2000)
- There Is Only One First Day of School (Aug 2000)
- Applying for Your First Job (Jul 2000)
- Your First Day (Jun 2000)
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