by Harry and Rosemary Wong
Impossible, No Job Openings?
San Jose, California, lost one of its best and most dedicated teachers when Susan Fortino relocated to Medford, Oregon. Her husband was to be employed by Harry and David, home of our favorites Moose Mix and chocolate covered cherries! She brought with her an impeccable pedigree:
- She is on page 178 of The First Days of School and only effective teachers are featured.
- She is a product of Holly Oak Elementary School, a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
- She is a protégé of Mercedes Boles, National Principal of the Year. In 2000, she was one of only five selected nationwide.
- She is a colleague of Cindy Wong, of "Give Me Five" fame, as featured in the video series, The Effective Teacher.
These experiences developed in her a true sense for professionalism, thus she would be a great asset as a role model and mentor to all future teachers. So, one would think that getting a job in the Medford School District would be slam-dunk. Not so. To Susan's shock, the Medford School District had no openings!
Is it possible that a school district would have no openings at a time of worldwide teacher shortages? But more importantly, why were there no openings in the Medford School District?
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that 15 million more teachers around the world must be hired over the next decade. While the shortage is most severe in south Asia and Africa, wealthy countries like the United States also face significant shortfalls in key areas.
- On October 15, 2000, the Toronto Star reported that Canada's school boards no longer can find enough qualified teachers for the country's 5 million schoolchildren and are bracing themselves for the shortage to get worse. More than two-thirds of the 272 school boards surveyed said they fear they will have trouble hiring the teachers they need next year.
- On January 31, 2002, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that at least 30,000 of the students in the Philadelphia public schools have teachers who are not fully certified. More than 900 apprentice teachers are in the city's classrooms and nearly 400 more have yet to pass all or part of the state certification exam. More than two-thirds of 26 new math teachers in the Philadelphia schools failed their certification tests last year.
Increasing Effective Teaching
Medford is a community of 13,000 students served by 14 elementary schools and 4 secondary schools. The reason why Medford may have few, if any, openings is a universal fact of life. All people want to succeed.
The companies and institutions, such as schools, that succeed are the ones who are able to keep happy and successful employees. To do so, they invest time and money into a training program, or in schools, a staff development program to ensure that both teachers and students succeed.
Early every year Fortune magazine lists its "100 Best Companies to Work For." Heading this list is the Container Store of Dallas, Texas, which sells water pails and laundry hampers for homes. They train their employees 162 hours per year! Even the last rated business on the Fortune list trains its employees over 60 hours a year.
Whereas, it is not uncommon for a school district to have one or two days devoted to what is erroneously called a staff development day, which is nothing more than a speaker who may not talk about anything that is relevant to a district's mission. It's understandable why teachers grade papers and read newspapers at these pointless, missionless meetings.
Medford has a mission. Their unmistakable mission is to ensure professional growth by maintaining and improving the
of each individual within the organization, which will result in increasing effective and efficient teaching and student learning. This may sound like a platitude, as so many mission statements do, until you consider and see their 100-page staff development handbook, listing over 75 different course offerings available each year.
- skills, and
The superintendent, Steven R. Wisely, says,
"The standards we hold for ourselves are even greater than those we hold for our students. In the educational and activity arenas, being second is just not acceptable in the Medford School District. To do that, we must believe that our only limits are those we place on ourselves. Through learning we become masters of our tasks. With that in mind, the School Board has made a strong commitment to providing a district-wide Staff Development Program."
Kathy McCollum is Medford's Director of Staff Development. At Medford, a major role of the administrators and staff developers is to immerse their new teachers in the district's culture and unite the new teachers with everyone in the district in order to form a cohesive, supportive instructional team. New teachers are quickly made a part of the district "family." When you feel like you are part of a family, you don't leave a job.
You, also, don't wait until after school begins and the beginning teachers are in trouble to start a professional development program; you create a culture of professional development before beginning teachers even see their first class. The new teachers who will advance in the profession will be the ones who continue to invest in their lives by continuously learning and growing.
The best way to cultivate an attitude of lifelong learning in beginning teachers is through a new teacher induction program. The Medford schools had a three-year new teacher induction program. Each year had a specific focus.
- Year 1: Classroom management
- Year 2: Instructional strategies (Instruction can't begin until the class is managed.)
- Year 3: Peer group coaching (By the third year, the new teachers are able to help the brand new teachers.)
Now Medford has a two-year new teacher induction program. They may claim that cost prevented the program from going three years, but we maintain that a culture and a family had been developed so that peer coaching was no longer needed. Newer teachers could go anywhere, ask, and receive help. This is the culture that has been established in the district as a result of all of the new teachers going through the induction program. Remember how in our January 2002 column http://teachers.net/gazette/JAN02/wong.html we talked about Goldfarb Elementary School in Las Vegas and how ALL the teachers helped to "mentor" the new teachers.
New teachers stay where there is a learning community and a family culture of helping new teachers to succeed.
Skills of Independence
Kathy McCollum says that teacher induction programs go a long way toward filling the gaps needed by new teachers to succeed. She noticed that the new teachers were teaching these beautiful lessons, but in many cases, the students were not on task. The behavior, the interaction wasn't there. So, the administrative team decided to pursue the area of classroom management. "Once classroom management was tightened up," Kathy McCollum said, "then we could transfer over and begin concentrating on instructional strategies."
Medford teaches classroom management based on procedures: how to sharpen your pencil without poking people, how to line up productively, how to hand in your papers, how to come into class and get ready to learn. Kathy McCollum explains, "All these things are procedures, or 'skills of independence.'"
A skill of independence is a skill that students need to develop in order to be independent as well as interdependent learners.
The technique of procedures learned by the new teachers helps to prevent approximately 90 percent of the problems teachers encounter in the classroom. Intervention techniques are also taught to teachers to use after a problem has occurred in the classroom. Kathy McCollum says, "The principals are telling us they are so impressed. They think the classroom management is better than it's ever been. They feel the prevention is there and teachers aren't just intervening all the time."
Kathy McCollum says, "The most important thing is that, when a district is considering making a change, that it makes the change systematically. It must become an integral part of the culture of the organization. We really expect teachers to use effective classroom management and instructional skills. We train them, and we have the expectation that they will use the training in the classroom."
Classroom Management Procedures
Each year Kathy McCollum shares with us the procedures developed by the new teachers during their workshops held before the first day of school. This year we received a collection of 33 of what they call "Procedure Lesson Plans."
The workshop where the following procedures are generated are taught by Kathy McCollum and Dr. Carolyn Ruck, Education Professor at Southern Oregon University. Like all good new teacher induction programs, the Medford program is a structured, organized program. They don't just give a new teacher a mentor with a directive to go and reflect on what you are doing.
Included in this collection were such procedures as
- Lining Up and Walking in Line
- Active Participation/Listening
- Being Called Upon
- How to Enter the Classroom When Tardy
- Transition From One Group to Another
- Proper Audience Etiquette
- Turning Monitors Off to Start Class
- I'm Done, Now What?
You will be impressed with what you are about to read. Remember, these are beginning teachers or teachers new to the district, who have had the benefit of a structured, induction program. These procedures do not necessarily work perfectly as they were developed before the first day of school. But it's a start and the effective teacher constantly makes changes and adjustments to any procedure or lesson that is not working.
Each teacher must develop procedures for his or her own classroom. To illustrate, we share two different versions of the same procedure from two different teachers. To learn more about how to develop and teach procedures, read our past columns and Unit C in The First Days of School.
Lining Up and Walking in Line
Oak Grove Elementary School
- How would you feel if you were late to recess because the class didn't line up quietly?
- Today we are going to learn the correct way to get in a class line and walk in that line.
- We can get to where we need to be on time if we line up and walk in our line in an appropriate manner.
Walk quietly to place in line
Hands to self
Feet to self
Stand quietly facing forward
Small space between students
Walk quietly at slow, even place
Chairs being pushed in
- Teacher models and verbally explains.
- The teacher calls my table and I walk quietly to my place in line.
- I'm going to keep my hands and feet to myself and not talk.
- If someone talks to me, I will ignore it or give him or her the "shhh" signal.
- I will stand quietly until the teacher starts the line moving. I will stay in my place and continue walking quietly to our destination.
- Teacher will call one table at a time and students will line up correctly.
- Have the rest of the class tell what they did correctly.
"Make Way for Ducklings"
- We will use this procedure every time we need to leave the classroom together as a class, or when we leave another common area and return to class.
- After each table has lined up correctly, walk class out to recess.
Wilson Elementary School
Students in a line
- Have you ever seen a mother duck leading her ducklings? How did they look? Why is it important for the ducklings to follow their mother?
- You need to learn how to line up quickly and quietly. Students line up for recess, lunch, field trips, fire drills, going home.
- Learning to line up is important because you don't want to be late and miss the fun.
Hands at sides
Quiet movement -- walking feet
Chairs being pushed in
- Teacher sits in seat. Think aloud.
- Stand up, push chair in and move by going the shortage distance to the door.
- Stand facing front, hands at sides, not speaking.
- Use small groups/table, one at a time. Other groups critique.
- Each group has a chance to critique and practice.
- Then use the whole class and practice lining up 3 times.
- Use timer to see how long it takes.
- When will we be lining up?
- We will have many opportunities to use this skill every day.
What to Do When You Finish Your Work
North Medford High School
- I don't teach a class the last block of the day on Red Days. What do you think I do during that time? Students answer.
- Teacher responds, "I'm reviewing the classes I taught and preparing for future classes. No employer would allow me to just goof off because I had finished teaching for the day."
- I have the same expectations for you and it will help you develop habits that contribute towards your current and future success.
When finished with work:
Reading is not free time. It is part of the school's plan to improve your language arts skills.
- Review your work.
- Work on incomplete past assignments
- Silently read from a book of your choice.
- If you didn't bring a book, find an interesting topic in the text.
- The teacher must approve any other activity.
- Teacher conducts a think aloud, mini-skit modeling of the procedure.
- Have each student follow the above steps in relation to the seatwork they have just finished.
- Have various students share which step they are doing.
- Ask questions to check for understanding.
- We will be using this procedure each time you have completed your work and there is still time in the classroom.
- Teacher gives students 10 minutes of time during which they are to pretend that they are finished with classwork. They demonstrate that they are able to find something productive to do in this 10 minutes
Heading Your Paper
Jefferson Elementary School
- Teacher tells personal story about the best paper he/she wrote that was thrown away because it didn't have a name on it.
- Today we are going to learn how to properly head our paper so that you will be able to earn the grade you deserve.
- Ask, "What should we do first after we have our paper?"
- Make a list of their responses.
- Name (first and last) in upper right hand corner
- Student number
- Date in numbers (3/15/02)
- Title centered on top line
- Teacher puts on overhead a wide-ruled, lined piece of paper.
- Teacher names each step of the procedure as she performs it.
- Teacher checks for understanding by:
- Putting up another overhead of lined paper.
- Teacher purposefully places steps incorrectly.
- Teacher asks students for a thumbs up or down for correctness.
- Teacher gives each student a piece of wide-ruled, lined paper and asks them to head their paper for the certain title at hand.
- Teacher may remind them as she watches them perform the task.
- Teacher checks for understanding by choosing a volunteer's paper and asking yes or no questions as to whether the steps of the procedure were done correctly.
- Teacher tells students that they will be doing this on their assigned papers the rest of the year.
- Ask them "why" again.
She's Hired and Successful
Yes, Susan Fortino got a job at the last minute in the Medford School District and is very happy and successful. She says,
My success has largely been made possible by the tremendous guidance, knowledge, and support I have received from my principal and colleagues at Jefferson Elementary School and the several outstanding Staff Development Workshops the district has offered this year.
Medford School District takes great measures to ensure the success of its employees. Through their incredible support I am able to truly focus on the joy of teaching and ultimately the success of my students. Success as a teacher is when the most challenging student in your class, both academically and behaviorally, tells you that you are the best teacher they ever had! That is the joy of teaching.
For most school districts, March is the usual time for the renewal of teacher contracts and declarations of intent. If you are not succeeding because your district does not have an induction program to help you become an effective teacher, consider moving on to another school district as we said in our March 2001 column http://teachers.net/gazette/MAR01/wong.html.
We sincerely hope that you are succeeding and your contract is renewed because the district recognizes your value. And that your intent is to stay with the district because they are helping you become the teacher you were meant to be.
As the district goes through its ritual rite of Spring, take some time for your own personal renewal and declaration of purpose.
- Take a long walk or hike and reflect on the past year. What are the triumphs and the battles still to conquer? Let the freshness of the season fill your mind with new ways of doing things.
- Look at a budding blossom and visualize the beauty that is yearning to spring forth. Find the faces of your students in every bursting bloom.
- Commit to finding the right nutrients to make every child flourish and be the best they can be. Even the weakest of seedlings has the potential to develop into a form of lasting wonder and beauty.
Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Everyone needs poking and prodding and staking until the roots are firmly in place. Stand back and marvel at the creation. Then and only then will you experience the true joy of teaching -- when you make a difference.
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 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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Email Harry Wong: email@example.com