May 2024
Vol 21 No 5

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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

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

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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

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Effective Teaching...
by Harry and Rosemary Wong

January 2002

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 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.
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

Goldfarb Success Trail

Daniel Goldfarb Elementary School
A Community of Learners Growing Together


FREEZE BELL: Freeze or walk to the blue line when appropriate.
SECOND BELL: 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.


  • 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.


  • 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:

  1. to train, support, and retain effective teachers and
  2. 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 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 naïve 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 school's quality,
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!

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