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

$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

July 2000

Applying for Your First Job

When You Are Hired, whether you are a novice or veteran teacher, one of three things can happen to you.

1. You Are Assigned
You are simply given an assignment and told to go and teach. There is no person or plan to help you if you need help. Only the naïve think that they know it all and that you do not need help and support. Research overwhelmingly says that over 50 percent of you reading this column right now will not be teaching after 3 to 5 years. Seventeen percent of you, if you are a novice teacher, will not even last one year. Your talent and energy are much too valuable to see one to five years of your life wasted, the education you pursued become inconsequential, and the hope of your dreams and aspirations be snuffed out.

2. You Are Given a Mentor
You are simply given a mentor to contact if you need help. With luck, this person perhaps is trained, compensated, accessible, knowledgeable, and willing to help. Just giving a teacher a mentor is not sufficient. The beginning teacher is at the mercy of the mentor's philosophy, schedule, competence, and training, if any. There is no uniform mission with individual mentors. Twenty new teachers plus 20 different mentors equals 20 people teaching in 20 different ways.

3. You Are Part of a District's Induction Program
You are part of a systematic, integrated plan formulated by the district's core of administrators, teachers, and perhaps the union, designed to welcome you and make you feel a part of the school or the district. The purpose of this multi-year process is to help you become an effective and professional educator who will stay with the school or district.

The Major Question to Ask

When you go for an interview, the major question to ask is, "Does the school district have a new teacher induction program?" An induction program is designed to train, support, and retain you. An induction program is a way the district sends a message to you that they value you and want you to succeed and stay.

Some districts with induction programs have reduced their attrition rate to five percent with their new teachers. Districts without an induction program typically have attrition rates of 50 percent. Districts with induction programs care that you succeed. Let them help you to succeed. Then after a few years you can join the district's induction team and you can help other new teachers succeed, too.

A First Year Teacher Succeeds

Melissa Pantoja, who we discussed in our June column, succeeded in her first year as a teacher. Not perfect, but happy with her success and looking forward to her second year as a teacher.

There is a reason why she succeeded, just as so many other first year teachers have succeeded. Melissa Pantoja of Oklahoma was the product of the El Reno Public School's New Teacher Induction Program. Simply put, an induction program is used to help teachers new to the profession and/or the district succeed. Good school districts are the result of having trained effective teachers.

Although induction programs differ from district to district, they all have certain components in common. They all have a series of preschool sessions, bi-weekly or monthly meetings, demonstration classrooms, mentors, and administrative help.

Mentoring Is Not Induction

Do not confuse the term "induction" with "mentoring." A mentor is simply an experienced teacher who is provided to help you. That person perhaps is trained and usually receives compensation or released time. You could be at the mercy of the mentor's qualifications and availability. Whereas, an induction program is an organized, structured process designed by the district or school to provide immediate and sustained help for you. Good mentors are very important, but they must be part of the entire induction process.

For instance, in El Reno newly hired teachers, whether novice or veteran teachers, get a full week of orientation to the school district and training in classroom management and instructional strategies. Both administrators and teachers provide the week's training, with some of the sessions conducted by the district's mentor teachers who continue to provide year-long support for the inductees.

The El Reno Public School District believes that a "team" approach is more likely to ensure the success of new teachers than a single one-on-one type of support system. Therefore, their new teacher induction program enlists the ongoing support of staff development members, principals, coordinators, mentor teachers, school board members, and supervisory staff members in order to ensure that their new teachers are highly trained and adequately supported, increasing the likelihood that these new teachers will remain in the profession.

There are excellent New Teacher Induction Programs in many districts and schools. We will talk about them in subsequent columns. In the June Gazette, Jan Fisher has an excellent article on the California induction process. These programs believe, as we do, that the teaching profession is the noblest profession in the world.

Getting back to Melissa Pantoja, at the end of her first year she wrote, "I'm so excited about what I've learned in my first year of teaching. I have used so many procedures and techniques that have made this year a success. Next year will be a great opportunity for me to make adjustments in my classroom management and use procedures that I have found to be successful. I have so many ideas and I am eager to use them." Even as a teacher, she is still learning.

You Are Hired to Make a Difference

We are most grateful for the questions we received from our last column. Some asked for first day scripts for their classrooms, claiming that their classroom was not like Melissa Pantoja's. However, we prefer not to give you such pat answers. We believe that every teacher has dignity, intelligence, and creativity and that you can develop your own style. Read what Melissa Pantoja did and use that as a model to prepare your own first days of school.

Instead of asking, "What am I supposed to do?" and expect someone to hand you a script that you can parrot your way through, learn to ask yourself, "What is it that I need to know so that my classroom will do the things that I need it to do?"

Mark Pollock, in Sacramento, California is a good example of this kind of professionalism exhibited by a teacher. He can be accessed at Go to the listing for our book The First Days of School and note that there are over 50 comments. Mark Pollack says, "This book is about refining your own style, how to steal ideas from other teachers, and how to be the best possible teacher ever! No book can tell you what to do, and this one does not. It instead gives the reasons for you to teach well, and how to go about doing that. You must act on your own to create your materials and make your classroom function."

We remember so distinctly this novice teacher at an induction meeting who was taught the procedure of collecting papers in a classroom. It was explained that passing papers forward is not a good technique because students may hit another student on the back to get their attention as the papers come forward up the aisle, thus creating problems. A technique was explained and practiced on how to have students pass papers across the aisles, which is described in The First Days of School. On the evaluation of the induction program, this teacher said that the technique did not work and implied that the induction program was not of any value.

The teacher never reflected on what happened in the classroom and made no attempt to try another variation to the procedure. Instead, the technique or the program was at fault.

There is a saying that good habits are easy to obtain, whereas bad habits are impossible to break. Begin your career as a professional educator by acquiring the best of all the good habits-being a continual learner. The worst habit you can acquire is to blame-whether it's the students, administration, schools of education, in-service meetings, parents, or whatever.

You Make a Statement of Dignity

If you do not take responsibility for yourself, no one else will. It's that simple. You make a statement of dignity to yourself and to the teaching profession when you acknowledge and accept that you make a difference.

YOU are the promise of your students' world. You are their hope and dream for a brighter future. Prepare yourself to be an effective teacher so that you can light their candles.


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