July 2024
Vol 21 No 7

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About Harry and 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 Outstanding Secondary Teacher Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal. Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.

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.

More than a half-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.

The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 2.4 million copies have been sold.

A third edition of The First Days of School has been released and 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 they become.

The Wongs have also produced the video 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, How To Improve Student Achievement, featuring Harry Wong as he speaks 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, and CD 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 at or Best Sellers

The First Days of School
by Harry & Rosemary Wong

$23.96 from
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New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers
by Annette L. Breaux, Harry K. Wong

$23.07 from
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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 DVDs, with Facilitator's Handbook in PDF, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $695.00 from (volume discounts available)
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New Item

How to Improve Student Achievement
2 CD set
by Harry & Rosemary Wong

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Pathways: A Guide for Energizing & Enriching Band, Orchestra, & Choral Programs
by Joseph Alsobrook

$12.57 from
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Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

$20.95 from
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Improving Schools from Within : Teachers, Parents, and Principals Can Make the Difference
by Roland Sawyer Barth

$13.30 from
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A First-Year Teacher's Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
by Bonnie Williamson, Marilyn Pribus (Editor), Kathy Hoff, Sandy Thornton (Illustrator)

$17.95 from
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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

$24.50 from
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The Courage to Teach : Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life
by Parker J. Palmer

$16.76 from
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If You Don't Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students : Guide to Success for Administrators and Teachers
by Neila A. Connors

$13.96 from
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Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

April 2005

Never Cease to Learn

Peer pressure severely limits achievement in many schools.  Students who DO NOT do well scorn those who DO well, and these students join together, socially, to limit each other’s success.

You see them at school.  They drag themselves to school.  They sit in the back of the room.  They don’t bring paper or pencil.  Instead of listening or participating, they read a magazine or find something else to do.  They are not motivated and they don’t want to learn.  And the clothes they wear needs cleaning or pressing.

Students?  Oh no.  We’re talking about some teachers you’ll find on every staff.  We call them SURVIVORS.  Read pages 5 and 6 in The First Days of School about those teachers who simply survive from day to day.

These are good people.  They entered teaching full of fantasy, coupled with dreams to make a difference in the lives of their students.  Some of them now have 20 years invested in the teacher retirement system, yet they are only 43 years-old.  They can’t leave teaching, because they are too young to retire, but have too much in the retirement system.  Either way they feel trapped.

So, they sit in the teacher’s lounge

these teachers, who do not do well, scorn those
who do well, and these teachers join together,
socially, to limit each other’s success.

And the new teachers do not even know or recognize the peer pressure that is exerted to severely limit them from learning and achieving.

It is done so subtly.  The survivors sit together in the lunch room with their names “engraved” on their chairs, where they have been sitting for 20 years reinforcing each other’s beliefs.  If one is absent that day, don’t you dare sit in that empty chair.

If you do, they will say to you, “You know what’s wrong with this school?  The kids, they don’t want to learn!”

And because you are a young, new teacher and you want to be accepted and be a part of the staff, you politely agree with the statement and say, “Yeah.”

You have just been manipulated.

They say, “We don’t get any backing from the administration.”  Because you want to be accepted, you say, “Yeah.”  You have just been manipulated.

They say, “We get no parent involvement.”  “The inservice meetings are a waste of time.”  “I wouldn’t bother going to any conference on my own time.”  You say, “Yeah, Yeah, and Yeah.”

Very quickly, you believe that the kids, the parents, the administration, and staff development are all to blame.

And don’t forget to blame the class size, school size, press, national reforms, standards, publisher’s programs, schools of education and the student’s poverty level, national origin, and race, too.

The surest path to decline is to blame others for your problems.  You must become an advocate of what you believe, otherwise you will become a victim of what others want you to believe. (Pages 284-285, The First Days of School).

It’s Easier to Develop Good Habits

You came into teaching with the conviction to make a difference in children’s lives.  You had this passion and enthusiasm to succeed.  You were going to develop every child’s talents and potential so that they can realize their dreams.

Yet, within one grading period, your enthusiasm, passion and any dreams you may have had are gone.

Behavioral psychologist tell us that it takes 21 days to establish a pattern and about 100 days (about 14 weeks) to make it automatic.  People who get beyond an initial three-month threshold period (such as in an exercise program or diet change) stand a good chance of continuing the pattern thereafter.

Put another way,

It is much easier to start to develop good habits,
because it is almost impossible to break bad habits.

So, start to develop an annual habit–right now.  And add to your habits as you grow in your professional life.

Effective Teachers Go to Conventions to Learn

Never, never cease to learn.

We would like to suggest that you go to at least one conference a year.  There are conferences all year long.  Some are national and others are held locally.

Ask your colleagues in your learning community if they know of any conferences.  See chapter 3 in The First Days of School for a list of associations.  If no one will go with you, go by yourself.  Don’t be afraid to go by yourself.

Conferences are very easy to understand.  Register and read the program book beforehand.  All conferences have three major parts.

Exhibit Hall:  First, there is the exhibit hall with row after row of vendor booths.  At most every booth, the people representing the companies are handing things to you.  And you say, “How much?”  They say, “Free.”  You say, “Free?  Gimme, Gimme.”

You can tell who the new teachers are.  They walk around with 16 bags of free sample materials, plus fund raising candies, pizzas and chocolates.

Whereas, the veteran teachers are walking around with one little bag.  If we’ve seen it all, why are we in the exhibit hall?  Ah, to see our friends from Minnesota, North Carolina, and Oregon, whom we have not seen in a year.

And, when we see them, the conversations are always the same.  “What are you doing?  And they ask you “What are you doing?”  Everyone is doing, doing, not complaining.

Listen to the professional attitude of successful teachers.  They are all participating, contributing, developing and doing.

It is heart-warming and contagious.  You go back to school fully charged with a happy, positive attitude and proud that you are a fellow teacher.

But, that’s only one part of a conference.

Sessions:  Second, there are the sessions.  At any given hour, there can be as many as 30 or more sessions, all at the same time and you have to make a choice.

Read the program and plan ahead.  If you get to the session at the scheduled hour, many times the session is already full.

Conference-goers are not like some of the negative teachers back at school, who whine about why they have to go to in-service meetings to learn.

Veteran conference-goers know that sessions can fill early, especially if there is a well-known speaker or the session features a popular subject.

In fact, people are there before the session starts, waiting for the previous session to finish.  And when these people leave, they squeeze their way in to get a seat.

The next presenter also squeezes his or her way in.  Goes to the front to set up.  Reaches into his or her bag and pulls out a sheaf of handouts and says to the person sitting in front, “Please take one and pass the rest back.”  And does the presenter ever bring enough handouts?


And that’s why Rosa Parks said, “I will not sit in the back of a bus.”  Rosa Parks is an American hero.  She gave everyone the choice to sit where one chooses to sit, to eat where one chooses to eat, and to worship where one chooses to worship.

There was a time when we could discriminate against minorities, by segregating them into less appealing places. That way, they could not get anything, while others got to choose everything: jobs, schooling, and opportunities.

However, because of Rosa Parks, today, the only person who can discriminate against you is yourself.

At the end of the session, the presenter will often say, “These books and materials are just too heavy and costly to take back on an airplane, so if any wants…”.  Vroom.  You jump up there and you say, “Gimme, Gimme.”  The front row of the room is the land of opportunity.

And then there’s the third part of the conference that is not even in the printed program.

Receptions:  It’s all of the parties and receptions that are held after the scheduled sessions are over.

It’s easy to get invited.  Just read the program.  Look for the posted signs.  Act interested at the booths and the vendors will invite you to their receptions.

You go from one reception to the next: food and drinks galore.

The best part of the receptions and parties is you get to meet and network with other teachers–teachers who are all doing and contributing to education.  No whiners.

Oh, these people are easy to find.  Listen to them talk.  They believe in the potential of all children.  They believe in the dignity of the profession.

Most importantly, they believe in nourishing themselves by constantly learning.  That’s why they go to conferences.

And On Monday

And, when you get back to school on Monday, you have this big smile on your face.  You look at the bags of free goodies, reams and reams of handouts from the sessions with valuable information, strategies, and techniques to help you improve your competence, and, most importantly, pleasant memories of the professionals who make you proud that you are a teacher too.

So, learn to allow nourishing teachers to nourish you too.

Go to a convention at least once a year.  It’s an infectious habit you will enjoy.

Denise Campbell of the Cherry Creek School District in Colorado, says, “The language arts conference is the highlight of my professional year.  The best ideas are gathered there and I am such a thief.”

Go to conferences.  Go to “steal.”  Go to learn.  Choose to enhance the quality of your life and the competence of your profession.  What an awesome habit to develop.

Successful People Make Choices

Before another day goes by, we beseech you to read Unit E in The First Days of School.  On pages 277 to 284, read about teachers who

DECIDE to talk like other teachers, dress like other teachers, and act like other teachers, and those who

CHOOSE to think for themselves and continually seek information so that they can determine their own destiny.

We know that 60 percent of teachers have not been to a convention, conference, or workshop on their own time and money for an average of ten years.  They see other teachers with the same attitude of not wanting to learn, so they DECIDE to do the same thing.

Then, we also know that from March 30 to April 2, over 12,000 teachers CHOSE to attend the national conference of the National Science Teachers Association.  These teachers have chosen to expand their potential, increase their capacity, and enhance their own lives and dreams.  They enjoy learning.

From "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," Professor Albus Dumbledore speaking to Harry Potter, says, "It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Here are some habits you can choose to develop:

  1. Choose to invest in yourself so that you can increase your value to others.
  2. Choose to learn and grow as a professional.
  3. Choose to avoid thoughts and people who will limit you.
  4. Choose to stop surviving and existing and start taking small risks to create incremental growth.
  5. Choose to identify what you want to do with your life and choose to DO IT.

Effective Teachers Never Cease to Learn

What you have just read is an abstract of the message found in the CD Never Cease to Learn.  It can be found as a free addition in the new, third edition of The First Days of School.  You can listen to the 38-minute Enhanced CD on a CD player or view it on a personal computer.

We know that you can learn and grow professionally, which will move you from the level of survival to the level of mastery.  As a master teacher you will impact lives and help children realize their talents, potential, and dreams.

For a printable version of this article click here.

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