July 2024
Vol 21 No 7

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About Effective Teaching

The 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.

These 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 The Wongs will consider it for sharing in future Effective Teaching columns.

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.  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 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.

Nearly 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 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

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 they become.

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 at or

Best Sellers

The First Days of School with Enhanced CD, Never Cease to Learn
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
$23.96 from
More information


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)
More information


Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong
eLearning course for individual use, CEUs available Preview the course and order at $124.95 (Group discounts available.)


How to Improve Student Achievement
Hear Harry Wong Live! in this 2 CD set
More information


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

$24.05 from
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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

February 2001

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."

      Gina Goble
      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."

      Name Withheld

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.' "

      Judith Liu
      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."

      Dr. Judith Liu

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. . . .

For a printable version of this article click here.

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