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... The Wongs have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO. The Wongs are dedicated to bringing quality and dignity to the materials they produce for teachers and to leaving a legacy in education by 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 million copies have been sold. They have also produced the video series The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for being the best educational staff development video of the past twenty years and 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

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

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The Effective Teacher (Video Set)
Presented by Harry Wong

8 VHS video tapes, binder with Facilitator's Handbook, book The First Days of School, and storage case, $795.00 from (volume discounts available)
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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

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Results : The Key to Continuous School Improvement
by Mike Schmoker

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

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

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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

June/July 2004

Three Year Summary of Articles

In reading The First Days of School, you are familiar with our description of the four stages of teaching.  We recently encountered a student teacher who believed simplistically, “Teachers are professionals who have the power to use their attitudes to set the tone for the rest of the school year and to make a positive influence on their students and colleagues.”

She’s in stage number one: fantasy.  As a new teacher, you will be in for a shock as quickly as the first day of teaching if you think that platitude, as nice as it may sound, is all you have in your bag of skills.

Her statement is a truism, however, we asked her to provide us with her:

  • First day of school script
  • Classroom management plan with procedures
  • Discipline plan
  • Lesson plan for any unit with anticipatory set, lesson criteria, criterion reference test, and show how they are aligned with state standards
  • Lesson plan showing how she will differentiate a lesson
  • Evidence that she is competent in any phase of Charlotte Danielson’s domain of effective teaching.

We never heard from her.

No one ever said teaching is easy.  Teaching is a craft and it will take at least five years to become proficient and effective as a teacher.  For the past three years we have been happy to share real life teachers and their successes, such as Jeff Smith last month (

Late News Break

On May 11, all of Jeff Smith’s students passed their state test to be certified welders.  This means that in the past four years out of the four years he has been teaching, Jeff Smith has successfully taught 100% of his class to pass their State Code Section 9, which makes his grand total for four years 96 certified welders.  He leaves no one behind!

Three Year Summary of Articles

A summary of three years of articles for
can be found this month.

It has been most pleasurable to share the attitudes, strategies, and techniques of successful teachers and administrators these past three years.  In the process, we have probably learned more than anyone else.  We meet people, or people send us letters and tell us what they are doing, and with each letter we learn more and more and develop a greater respect for the creativity and competence of teachers.  So, if you are wondering how we can write these columns month after month, it’s very simple.  Just keep those letters and emails coming.

As we look over the three years of articles, there are two recurrent themes:

Effective teachers can implement.  Effective teachers have the ability to look at someone else’s work, regardless of the grade level or subject matter, or even if it’s from someone who may not even be in education, and are able to “steal it,” change it to fit, and use it in their classroom.  Effective teachers don’t need articles specific to their grade level or subject.

Effective teachers are versatile.  They are able to look at teaching through the eyes of other teachers and then think or reflect on how they can continually modify and implement ideas from others.  Our articles are replete with examples of teachers who are able to do this, such as Michelle Beck, a first grade teacher, from Sydney, Australia (February 2004) and Jeff Smith, a high school welding teacher (May 2004).

Effective teachers are proactive.  Effective teachers have learned how to prevent problems, rather than react to problems.  We often get letters from teachers who want to know what to do to a specific student.  They want specific punishments or consequences.  We answer, “you don’t ‘do something’ to someone.”  Rather, you proactively have a classroom management plan that prevents problems from occurring.

From Melissa Pantoja (June 2000), who had a first day of school script, Sarah Jones (August 2002), who had a First Day of School Action Plan, Bridget Phillips (January 2002), whose school has school-wide procedures, to Nathan Gibbs (March 2004), with his list of procedures, these teachers and administrators have plans.  Read the plan of Liz Breaux (February 2002) and you’ll understand why we call her a stress-free teacher.  For, if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.

WARNING: We get an infrequent letter from someone who tells us that they tried a technique from one of the articles and it did not work.  A prerequisite to using any of the techniques mentioned in any of our articles requires the reading of The First Days of School or the watching the video series, The Effective Teacher.  This is because people
       who know what to do,
       know how to do it, and
       can explain why they are doing it.

It is imperative that you know the research and the reason for what is being done so that you can help yourself and then be able to help another teacher.

We thank the many people who have told us how our books and video tapes have been of help to them.  For instance,

I’ve been in education, either teaching or in administration, for 24 years.  Never have I come across such a comprehensive, practical, research based book as The First Days of School.  This book has rekindled my passion for teaching.

Richard Knight,
Casorso Elementary School
Kelowna, B.C.

If anyone needs a blueprint on how to organize a school for success, look no farther.

Wayne Watts, Principal
Edwards Middle School
Conyers, Georgia

Your book is the only gift I give to anyone I know who is going into teaching.  They always come back and thank me over and over again.

Robin Zarzour, Special education teacher
Parma City (Ohio) Schools

The First Days of School is an absolute must. It is the only textbook I have considered because of its practical and honest approach to what works in the classroom.

Jim Wilhite, Professor of Education
Northeastern Oklahoma State University

Summary of Effective Teaching Articles

JUNE 2000--Your First Day
Key Idea: First Day of School Script.
 Start school with a first day of school script.  One teacher began his year with fun activities and spent the rest of the school year chasing after his classes.  His first day lacked structure, which led to his students structuring the class for him.  Elementary school teacher, Melissa Pantoja, began the first day of school with a script, which led to a successful beginning.  Her script is provided for you to use and adapt to your classroom.

JULY 2000—Applying for your First Job (
Key Idea: Mentoring is Not Induction.
 Know the difference between mentoring and new teacher induction.  Statistics say that teachers entering the profession right now will not be teaching in three to five years; in fact, many will not even last a year.  To combat the high turnover rate of teachers, many schools and districts are turning to new teacher induction (not mentoring) programs to prepare teachers for success in the classroom.  Examples of successful induction programs are provided.  Review them and learn what to look for in your next school.

AUGUST 2000—There is Only One First Day of School (
Key Idea: Seven Things Students Want to Know.
 What you do the first day of school will determine your success for the rest of the school year.  Discover the seven things all students want to know on their first day of school, and why a successful year starts on the first day of school.  You would not expect a truck driver to haul an expensive load without first making sure he knew how to drive the truck.  Neither can you expect students to succeed if they do not know the routines and procedures of your class.  The seven things all students want to know are provided so that you can use them to prepare for your first day of school.

SEPTEMBER 2000—The Problem is not Discipline (
Key Idea: Manage, not Discipline Your Classes.
 Learn how to manage, rather than disciplining your classroom.  The former will enhance student learning, and the latter will wear you down.  Rather than discipline your classes, manage them.  Learn which procedures every class needs to have down before students can start learning.  Create or hone your procedures so that this school year will be your best school year ever!  Suggested procedures are outlined in the article.  Copy and use them in your own classroom.

OCTOBER 2000—How to Start a Class Effectively (
Key Idea: Effective Start-up Techniques for Prime Time.
  Start your class with an organized routine that includes bellwork and other effective start-up techniques.  The first few minutes of every class are prime time, so what you do in those first few minutes determines how on task your students will be.  Read about teachers and schools who have experienced success because of effective prime-time practices.  Use the prime-time examples as a guide to create your own effective prime-time practices.

NOVEMBER 2000—The First Five Minutes are Critical (
Key Idea: The First Five Minutes Are the Most Important.
  Make the first five minutes of your class count.  Like the first chapter of a good novel, the beginning of class must capture students’ attention.  Have your students working the minute they walk into class and you will have their attention.  Once you have achieved this, it is easy to keep them on task.  Use the examples in this article to create your own bellwork and warm-up activities.

DECEMBER 2000—It’s Not the Students, It’s the Teacher (
Key Idea: Effective Teachers Show, not Tell.
 When teachers tell us their discipline problems, we refer them to this article.  Ineffective teachers want to “do things” to students, whereas effective teachers know how to teach procedures.  Rather than telling students what to do, show them how to do it.  Effective teachers, like effective parents, show students what to do instead of telling and yelling.  Even a student from a negative home environment will respond positively if teachers follow the steps shared for teaching procedures.

JANUARY 2001—The Miracle of Teachers (
Key Idea: Thanks, Praise, and Encouragement for the Miracle of Teachers.
 Learn what teachers have been doing right, and how they have improved the American condition exponentially in a few short years.  Teachers are the most amazing professionals in the world today, and you deserve to be thanked and to know that their accomplishments are shaping the nation for continued success.  Take heart and encouragement from the stories of hope in this article.  You, the teacher, are a miracle.

FEBRUARY 2001—A Journey of the Heart (
Key Idea: The Impact of Teachers on Students’ Lives.
 This column is about the journey teachers make into the hearts of their students.  What you do everyday, whether someone tells you or not, touches the lives of your students in immeasurable ways.  Teachers change lives, and the proof is in every student who has gone on to succeed.  If you just touch even one life as a teacher, you are a success.  Learn to invite students to learn by following the steps in this article.

MARCH 2001—What Successful New Teachers Are Taught (
Key Idea: Induction Prepares Teachers for Success.
 Learn how induction programs teach new teachers how to become successful teachers.  Start your new career right, in a district that values its teachers and provides a comprehensive and ongoing induction program for all teachers new to the district.  Know the difference between mentoring programs and induction programs, and choose to teach in a district that has a solid, comprehensive program to help you develop in your chosen career.

APRIL 2001—How to Recognize Where You Want to Be (
Key Idea: The Ten Questions to Ask at Your Interview.
 Know the ten questions you should ask at your interview to ensure you choose the school and district that are right for you.  After reading this article, you will be able to recognize the district you want to teach in and maximize your potential.  Your career depends on the decision you make.  Copy the ten questions you should ask and use them in your next interview.

MAY 2001—How to Motivate Your Students (
Key Idea: Motivational Activities to Capture Students’ Attention.
 Motivate and entice students with discrepant events.  Then, learn how and why to continue the lesson with group collaboration.  Students will remain motivated to do whatever they are instructed to do.  Ideas for discrepant events in different subjects are provided in this article.  Use them to capture the class’ attention and imagination.

SEPTEMBER 2001—How a Good University Can Help You (
Key Idea: The Value of a Good University.
 A good university will teach you how to be an effective teacher.  Sarah Jones’ experiences at Western Kentucky University enabled her to begin her teaching career with the proficiency of a veteran teacher.  Her success is due to diligent instruction in everything from lesson planning to effective classroom management practices.  Before she ever set foot in a classroom, she already had a comprehensive list of classroom procedures to develop responsible students.  Copy and adapt Sarah Jones’ action plan to meet the needs of your teaching environment.

NOVEMBER 2001—The Effective Teacher Thinks (
Key Idea: Effective Teachers Can Implement What Other Effective Teachers are Doing.
 Become an effective teacher by thinking about what you learn, or observe other teachers doing, and adapting it to meet your unique classroom management needs.  Steve Geiman, a Physical Education teacher in Virginia, thought about what Harry said at a conference and the wheels began to spin.  The result is an effective and efficient model of classroom management that has transformed his PE class.  Steve's procedures are outlined in this article.  Copy, adapt, and implement the procedures in your class.

DECEMBER 2001—Van Gogh in Nine Hours (
Key Idea: Effective Classroom Management Works in Every Situation.
 This column illustrates effective classroom management procedures in two very different environments, the library and an elementary art classroom.  Learn from the success of Betty Hamer and Jeanne Bayless, as they guide their students to success with routines and procedures that cut down on the confusion, mistakes, and messes and allow students to get down to the business of learning.  Both teachers’ classroom management procedures are featured in the article for your needs.

JANUARY 2002—A Most Effective School (
Key Idea: Safe and Productive School Culture Leads to An Effective School.
 Transform your school into an effective school, by creating a school culture that promotes a safe and productive learning environment starting on day one.  Goldfarb Elementary in Las Vegas, Nevada, has just such a culture.  They developed and maintained a consistent school-wide set of procedures that have become the foundation for the school’s culture.  Create school-wide procedures using Goldfarb’s procedures as a guide, and watch your school blossom into an effective learning environment.

FEBRUARY 2002—A Stress-Free Teacher (
Key Idea: Become a Stress-Free Teacher. 
Reduce your work-related stress by enforcing consistent procedures and routines for all classroom activity and interactions.  Liz Breaux’s structured approach to classroom management has guided students to success, and has made her classroom virtually problem-free.  Apply her secrets to stress-free teaching, and begin your own path to a teaching career free from anxiety.

MARCH 2002—Impossible, No Job Openings? (
Key Idea: Teacher Induction Means Teacher Retention.
  Learn how to retain your new teachers with a structured new teacher induction program that guides them through classroom management, instructional strategies, and more.  By teaching them the things they need to know before they step foot in a classroom, you will be setting them up for a successful career.  See the procedures that Medford’s new teachers have created, and get inspiration for your own list of procedures.

APRIL 2002—Even Superintendents Do It (
Key Idea: Good Leaders Are Models of Success.
 We have shared how teachers and principals create and maintain effective schools.  In this article we show you that superintendents do it, too.  Sunnybrook School District #171, under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Majchrowicz, has developed an effective district-wide culture based on core values agreed upon by all the member of the learning community.  The district-wide set of procedures established by Sunnybrook’s learning community, as well as their four core values, are showcased in this column.  Review this article to select elements of effective teaching to implement in your school or classroom.

MAY 2002--$50,000 to Replace Each Teacher (
Key Idea: New Teacher Induction Programs.
 This article highlights effective new teacher induction programs and shares evidence to support the implementation of induction.  The costs of having an effective new teacher induction program are small in comparison to the cost of losing newly hired teachers.  Use the information in this article to guide you as you build an effective induction program for your new teachers, or use the information within this article to guide your quest for the perfect school or district in which to begin, or continue, your teaching career.

JUNE - JULY 2002—Teaching Procedures is Teaching Expectations (
Key Idea: Procedures Start on Day One.
 Teach your students procedures starting on day one.  Establishing procedures beginning with the first day of school will set you up for a smooth school year.  Don’t believe us?  Read this month’s column, and learn how teaching procedures teaches your student what you expect.  Use the first day of school script contained within the article to develop or hone your own first day of school script.

AUGUST 2002—How to Start School Successfully (
Key Idea: First Day of School Action Plan.
 Start your first day of school with an action plan.  Sarah Jones began planning her action plan, procedures, and activities long before she ever set foot in a classroom, and it paid off.  Use the sample Action Plan to guide you in creating your own First Day of School Action Plan, and the Academic Expectations templates to guide you in creating your statement of academic expectations.

SEPTEMBER 2002—Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds (
Key Idea: Effective Procedures Make Activities Effortless. 
Using procedures will make any classroom activity go off without a hitch, and will guarantee that all your supplies are accounted for at the end of the activity.  Imagine a school year in which no supplies are lost and activities flow without a single discipline problem.  Use the time-tested methods for dispensing and collecting materials contained in this article and never again lose another ruler!

OCTOBER 2002—Effective Practices Apply to All Teachers (
Key Idea: Effective Practices Work in All Classes.
 Effective classroom practices apply to all teachers, even foreign language teachers.  Effective teachers can adapt the techniques in The First Days of School to any classroom environment, and any subject matter, even high school Spanish!  Review examples of foreign language teachers’ procedures, from what to do before class starts to procedures for traveling teachers.  Reflect on what you have learned and then adapt your favorite procedures to implement in your own classroom.

NOVEMBER 2002—A Class Size of 500 (
Key Idea: How to Manage Your Non-Traditional Classroom.
 Imagine standing in front of 500 teenagers, raising a hand, and having the entire class of 500 become quiet in a matter of seconds.  It is possible.  These results are just a matter of establishing procedures and practicing them with the students until they become routine.  This article examines the success of teachers in non-traditional classrooms, and illustrates how even the largest class can be a well-oiled learning machine.

DECEMBER 2002—No Problem With Hurricane Lili (
Key Idea: Students Remember Effective Procedures.
 School-wide procedures can make school flow smoothly even after a devastating act of nature has shaken the community.  Imagine a hurricane tearing through your community and school, and leaving in its wake devastation and despair.  Now imagine the students returning to school, shaken but finding a classroom ready for learning.  This is not a fluke; it is a result of consistent and practiced school-wide procedures.

FEBRUARY 2003—How to Retain New Teachers (
Key Idea: Teacher Induction is A Multi-Year Commitment. 
Retain new teachers by implementing a new teacher induction program.  Induction is a multi-year investment in your new teachers’ career, and in your school/district’s ability to retain top talent.  Induction is a process that includes a variety of career building activities, from courses in classroom management practices to how to integrate effective strategies within a lesson plan.  Learn the components of a successful induction program, and read examples of three commendable induction programs.  Model your approach after these fine examples and watch as your retention rates rise to unprecedented levels.

MARCH 2003—First Day of School Script (
Key Idea: First Day of School Scripts Work.
 This column provides further proof that first day scripts put teachers on the road to success.  This article shares Melissa Pantoja’s Daily Class Routine for the Substitute and John Schmidt’s First Day Script, Procedures, and Class policies.  Utilize these exceptional works to guide your creation of a First Day Script and lists of your own procedures that will guide your class to success from day one.

APRIL 2003—The Effective Substitute Teacher (
Key Idea: Effective Substitutes Employ Effective Practices.
  Prepare in advance for your next substitute teaching adventure.  Learn how to create a Sub Pack and what materials it should include.  Print a copy of the Professional Substitute Teachers’ Checklist and use it to organize your daily routine and prepare for your next subbing job.  Peruse the many helpful substitute teacher links and gather as many additional hints that you can glean from these valuable resources.

MAY 2003-Applying for A Teaching Job in A Tight Market, Part 1 (
Key Idea: Actions that Guarantee Interview Success.
 This article teaches the actions that guarantee a successful interview.  There are two critical questions you should ask at your interview.  In this article, we discuss the first question, “Does your district have a new teacher induction program?”  Review the hints contained in this article as you prepare for your teaching interview and get ready to ‘wow’ the interviewer.

JUNE - JULY 2003—Applying for A Teaching Job in A Tight Market, Part 2 (
Key Idea: The Value of Curriculum and Standards Guides.
  This article answers the second question all teachers should ask when they interview for a position, “Does the district have a curriculum guide that is aligned to state standards?”  Understanding the state standards and implementing them in a classroom is hard enough, but to do so without a curriculum guide is suicide.  Be sure that the school you choose has a set curriculum for each grade, and that it aligns with the state standards.  As a bonus, included are end-of-the-year procedures.  Use them to guide you toward a stress-free summer vacation and new school year.

AUGUST 2003—How to Start A Lesson Plan (
Key Idea: Creating Effective Lesson Plans.  
Discover how to begin lesson planning when there is no curriculum guide to steer you.  Many districts do not have curriculum guides, and most teachers do not leave behind collections of curriculum and activities to assist a beginning teacher.  Follow the Steps to Creating an Effective Assignment and begin your lesson planning with confidence.

FEBRUARY 2004—The Effective Teacher Adapts (
Key Idea: Getting Out of Survival Mode.
 This article explores the realities of survival mode, and explains how to move beyond survival to mastery.  If you are in survival mode, you must read this article.  It contains wisdom that will help you to become the teacher you always dreamed you would be.  The article also contains an innovative adaptation of the Tote Tray System.  We invite you to explore and adapt this method for use in your own classroom.

MARCH 2004—A Well-Oiled Learning Machine (
Key Idea: Classroom Management in the Diverse Classroom.
  This article features the classroom management plan of Nathan Gibbs, which has turned his class into a well-oiled machine.  Consistent classroom management will even make the most behaviorally challenged child take note and perform his best.  Adapt the procedures you find in this article to meet the needs of your learning community.

APRIL 2004—What to Do When They Complain (
Key Idea: Respond to Complaints the Right Way.
 This article highlights the proper response to complaints and presents further examples of Nathan Gibbs’ procedures that you can modify for use in your classroom.  In every group there will be at least one person who complains; this includes any given group of students.  This article gives insight into how to deal with those complaints without becoming upset, and how to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills at the same time!  Try the complaint procedure, and see how it changes the dynamics in your classroom.

MAY 2004—His Students are All Certified (
Key Idea: Effective Classroom Management is Universal.
  This article demonstrates that effective classroom management procedures are universal and can be used to create a successful learning environment from Pre-K to Technical College and beyond.  It reveals the career changing management and teaching strategies of Jeff Smith.  Jeff shared his Goals and Procedures with us, so that you could take from them ideas to build your own class goals and procedures.  Please use his examples and modify them to suit your particular classroom needs.

Please Share With Us

If you have stories of your success, please share them with us.  We are in the sharing business.  We thank the people who have the skill to take the ideas other teachers share, modify and use them, and then, in turn, share their own techniques with the profession.

As your go into the summer, please read our past columns and know that

There is something inherently special about our profession that allows us to close out a previous academic year and plan for a new beginning—a sort of annual renewal, if you will.

                                 Lee Gray

Best wishes for a pleasant summer!  We’ll see you in August.

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