by Harry and Rosemary Wong
A Most Effective School
Imagine being part of a faculty where every teacher has succeeded in the classroom for the past six years. The only reason for leaving this school is either spousal relocation or to further your educational growth.
A school such as this does exist. It is not in Never Never Land! It is Goldfarb Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes, the attrition rate is zero! Zip! If a teacher has left it is not because they did not or could not succeed in the classroom.
When new teachers come to teach at Goldfarb, a culture of success already exists and the new teachers receive an induction program that helps them to get up to speed as fast as possible. The teachers help each other and that's why the teachers make Goldfarb Elementary a most effective school.
The Culture of Goldfarb Is Success
Last month we featured the classroom management style of the art teacher at Goldfarb Elementary School, Jeanne Bayless http://teachers.net/gazette/DEC01/wong.html. She says, "There is a consistent, school wide procedure for walking through the halls and the students, themselves, teach this procedure to the new teachers and the substitutes."
Yes, that's correct. The students teach the procedures to the new teachers and substitutes!
Students like being in a consistent environment where everyone knows what to do and where they can get on with learning. All effective schools have a culture and it is the information one gets from a culture that sends a message to the students that they will be productive and successful.
Goldfarb Success Trail
This message appeared when school began at Goldfarb this past September. The students were greeted with a 17 x 22-inch color poster in each classroom. The poster listed the school-wide procedures that had been agreed on by all the staff members and had been practiced by many of the returning students. The poster is called the
Daniel Goldfarb Elementary School
A Community of Learners Growing Together
||Freeze or walk to the blue line when appropriate.
||Walk to line up dot quietly.
Enter building quietly.
- Walk in single file.
- Walk on the right side.
- Walk quietly.
- Walk with hands at side.
- Use hall pass when not with an adult.
LUNCH ROOM PROCEDURES
- Walk in quietly.
- Have lunch card ready.
- Talk in quiet voices.
- Raise hand to be helped.
- Respond to paycheck/high five.
- Stay seated until excused.
- Clean up your area.
- Walk carefully to the playground.
FIELD TRIP PROCEDURES
- Be prepared and on time.
- Enter/exit bus in single file and in orderly fashion.
- Remain seated.
- Use quiet voices.
- Walk on campus at all times.
- Walkers exit at the gate by the bike rack.
- Cross street and parking lot at designated areas only.
- Wait for rides at the gate by the 60s Greatroom.
- After 3:30 pm, come to the office to wait or call home.
- Use the restroom quickly and quietly.
- Remember to flush.
- Use towels and soap sparingly.
- Clean up after yourself.
- Use hall pass when not with an adult.
How This Culture Was Developed
The principal of the school is Bridget Phillips and when the National Elementary Schools Principal Association published its latest book, Leading Learning Communities: Standards for What Principals Should Know and Be Able to Do, they must have been thinking of Bridget Phillips. The book says that, first and foremost, a principal is to be an instructional leader, which means having the competency to build a family or culture that is a learning community. Bridget Phillips acknowledges that her staff is an A+ staff. Effective schools are a learning community, a place where teachers and administrators study, work, and learn together with the mission of improving student achievement.
Effective schools are distinguishable from ineffective ones by the frequency and extent to which teachers learn together, plan together, test ideas together, discuss practices together, reflect together, grapple together -- with the fundamental vision and focus of developing students to their fullest capacity.
Thus, the function of a principal is not to count how many buses are needed, who has lunch duty in the cafeteria, and when an assembly is to be held. These must be done, but the principal is to rise above managerial duties and become an instructional leader.
"Too often, administrative education programs prepare managers, not the educational leaders schools so badly need today."
Arthur Levine, President,
Teachers College, Columbia University.
Ineffective principals hire teachers because they have a slot to fill. Then the teacher is given an assignment and told to go and teach, or in the case of many new teachers to go and survive. The message is figure it out yourself, do it yourself, and keep it to yourself.
Not at Goldfarb. Building on the two-year induction program of the Clark County School District, Bridget Phillips takes all of her first year teachers through an in-house induction, training program for one semester. A cadre of administrators and teachers teaches the induction program. The purpose of this training is two-fold:
- to train, support, and retain effective teachers and
- to acculturate the new teachers to how things are done at Goldfarb and continue to ensure a vision of student achievement.
The other semester, all student teachers from the local university are taken through a very similar training program. Thus, the student teacher gets more than one master teacher. The student teacher gets many master teachers. If a vacancy is expected at the school, Bridget Philips can pluck off one of these teachers for the staff before the teacher applies for a job elsewhere. It's like a coach who can pluck off a first round draft choice before the player is even allowed to enter the draft.
Even more impressive, the student teacher, when he or she begins as a regular teacher, goes through the first-year induction program given to all beginning teachers at Goldfarb. Can you understand now, why, in our April 2001 http://teachers.net/gazette/APR01/wong.html column, we strongly recommended that when you go for a job interview to ask if the district has a new teacher induction program? And if not, to move on to another interview. An induction program is how a district says to you that they care about you and want you to succeed and stay, so they will give you training and support.
Do not be so naÔve as to believe that you can succeed on your own. Find a school district and a school that will support you and help you to realize your full potential in affecting the lives of young people. Then, have a mindset that you want to work together and learn together with the other teachers and administrators at your school. This is the only way to improve student achievement, in a culture of student success.
Mentors are no longer really used at Goldfarb Elementary School in Las Vegas. Instead, student teachers and new teachers are surveyed as to their needs. The list is publicized and "tons" of teachers respond with willingness to answer, help, or present sessions at in-house training sessions. This is a true learning community of educators sharing with and helping fellow educators.
Developing the Goldfarb Success Trail
The Success Trail is a series of school-wide procedures agreed upon by the teachers. To develop and refine these procedures a staff planning committee organized a retreat for one day. The retreat was put on by the staff using funds designated for the retreat from the lounge soda pop machine. It was held on a day in August with the staff agreeing to give up planning to time to attend.
Many of the procedures were already in place as they had been started four years ago when several other schools were doing the same process based on materials from the book, The First Days of School. By the second year, there were two pages of procedures and routines. Each year the staff revisited many of the procedures, tweaking them, until they were now firmly in place.
During the retreat the procedures were placed on several large charts for discussion. The finalized procedures were presented to the staff, including all new teachers, in August for discussion and implementation. These procedures form the basis for the poster, which the district's graphic arts department designed and produced.
Because of the existing induction training many of the new teachers have been trained in what to do and how to teach the school's procedures. It's comforting to have everyone "on the same page." It makes it easier for the veteran teacher to help the new teachers fine-tune their classroom techniques. If necessary, sometimes a sub is hired for a new teacher so that that teacher can shadow a veteran teacher during a day. Watching and being part of a common culture helps to quickly bring everyone up to speed with the rest of the staff.
Working Together As a Family
Mike Schmoker's book, Results: The Key to Continuous School Improvement, says that schools that show positive results in student achievement have a staff that exhibits "meaningful teamwork."
Roland Barth says the same thing in his book, Improving Schools From Within:
The nature of the relationship among the adults at the school has more to do with the
its character, and
the achievement of its students
than any other factor.
Mike Schmoker and Roland Barth say what has always been known:
People who work together always achieve greater results
than people who work alone.
Resolutions for 2002
The tragic events of the past year have put the word FAMILY back into our vocabulary and our priorities in life. As a learning community you are a family of educators working to provide your students with the best opportunity to learn as there can possibly be. You want each of your students to grow up learned and successful. And what parent doesn't want this for his or her child?
Resolve in the coming year to work together as a staff to provide a climate where success is the norm for students and teachers. Reach out to colleagues with tips, pats, or just lend an ear. Do the same for your students, too. But most of all realize that you have the capacity to influence the world by what you do and who you are in the classroom. Teachers are the hope for a brighter tomorrow.
We wish you a most Effective and Happy New Year!
Past Gazette Articles by Harry & Rosemary Wong:
If you spot a link that appears to be out-of-date, please alert us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- 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 AssessmentóUsing 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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