April 2024
Vol 21 No 4

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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

June 2005

Improving Student Achievement Is Very Simple (Part 2)

The Importance of Teachers

This we know!  Teacher quality is the most critical factor by which to improve student achievement or close the achievement gap.

  1. Teacher.  It is the teacher, what the teacher knows and can do, that is the most important factor in improving student achievement.
  2. Instruction.  It is how the teacher instructs, not the program, the size of the school or classroom, or the demographics of the students that determines student learning.

The success of your students depends on the success of your teachers.

  • Differences in teacher effectiveness are the single largest factor affecting academic growth of populations of students.
  • A study of the Denver Public Schools found that teachers accounted for more than twice the total variation in student test score change than did the schools.
  • Students who have several effective teachers in a row make dramatic achievement gains, while those who have even two ineffective teachers in a row lose significant ground.
  • A student who is taught by an ineffective teacher for two years in a row can never recover the learning lost during those years.
  • Based on research in Texas, the importance of having an effective teacher instead of an average teacher for four or five years in a row could essentially close the gap in math performance between students from low-income and high-income households.
  • The differences in impact for the most effective teachers, the top one-sixth of teachers, can be nine months or more, essentially a full year of learning.
  • The ineffective teachers, the bottom one-sixth of teachers, produce a negative impact on students over the year in their relative achievement.
  • As a teacher’s effectiveness increases, the first group to benefit from this improvement is the lower achieving students.

    Therefore, quality teaching is the most critical means by which to improve student learning and to close achievement gaps.  You achieve student success through teacher success.

Attention Administrators

Administrators.  Prepare your next group of new teachers to be effective teachers with a comprehensive induction program.

Teach the teachers well and they will teach the students well.

Everyone trains their new employees.  Starbucks trains their new coffee makers, called baristas, for one week.  An airline trains its pilots for the entire time they are with the company.

Can you imagine an airline that does not train its pilots?  Instead, they give each new pilot a mentor and they are told to contact their mentor for help if they are in trouble at 35,000 feet.

Mentors are important, just as the frosting on a cake is important.  But, there is more to a cake than the frosting, just as new teachers need more than a mentor.

Mentoring teaches teachers how to survive.
Induction teaches teachers how to thrive.

Studies have shown that mentoring does not teach for teacher effectiveness; rather, it is designed to answer questions of survival.  For a teacher to be effective, the teacher needs to go beyond the stage of survival and into a stage of being a master teacher.

Ted Britton at WestEd reports that mentoring, in and of itself, has no purpose, goal, or agenda for student learning.  There is no evidence that mentoring leads to improved student learning.

For student learning to take place, all beginning teachers must

  • learn to teach to established standards,
  • evaluate the effects of their instruction on student performance,
  • use student achievement data for planning and curriculum,
  • tailor instruction to address specific learning needs, and
  • learn how to thrive in the culture of the school.

This kind of learning can only happen in a comprehensive induction program.

Charlotte Neill, superintendent of the Carlsbad Municipal Schools in New Mexico, says that in their New Teacher Induction Program, “We teach our teachers how to teach the required benchmarks and standards, manage the classroom environment, set appropriate procedures, and maximize instructional time.  We are a very cohesive district and we want new staff to feel wanted, valued, and respected by the way we support them through the induction process.”

In the school year 2001-2002, Carlsbad hired 30 new teachers and lost only one.  The teachers are not only learning in the induction program, they are staying in Carlsbad.

How Does McDonalds Do It?

It is imperative to keep teachers who have been effectively trained.  Remember, it takes four to six years to train an effective teacher.  When you have a school with a turnover rate of 20 percent or more each year, which is common in urban schools, you never have a staff of effective teachers.

Effective administrators are eager to collaborate with their teachers and even teach them.  They are active learners themselves, cultivating their own professional growth throughout their careers.  Finally, they are role models, instilling a passion for learning in their teachers.  Read “Even Superintendents Do It” (

For the good people who keep preaching about mentors, reflect on this: When you have a staff that turns over every three years, who’s the mentor?

Now, reflect on this. The average employee stays at McDonald’s for 2.5 months.  Yet, every new employee knows what to do.  It doesn’t take much to reflect on how McDonald’s does it.

Good administrators do not usurp their leadership role by simply giving each new teacher a mentor without rigorous training and monitoring.

For students to achieve academically, administrators must have a clear idea of what kind of instructional practice they want to produce, and then design a structure to go with it.

That structure is a comprehensive induction program.  Administrators, staff developers, and teacher-leaders must have the knowledge and skills to direct an induction process that creates and supports a results-driven, team-focused, professional learning, and collaborative culture that is part of every teacher’s work day with student achievement as the focus.

What New Teachers Really Want

If what teachers know about teaching is learned on the job, then why not systematically teach new teachers on the job with a sustained induction program?

Effective induction programs not only retain highly qualified new teachers, they also ensure that these teachers are teaching effectively from the very first day of school.

The most compelling and successful way to keep good teachers is with a structured and sustained induction program that typically lasts three years.  The purpose of induction is to prepare and acculturate new teachers to teaching, insuring their success from their very first day of teaching and introducing them to the responsibilities, missions, and philosophies of their schools and districts.

There are many components in an induction program.  Two of the most important and requested components are demonstration classrooms and networking.

New teachers want more than a mentor.  New teachers tell us that after a month or two with a mentor, what they want more than anything else is to

  • watch other teacher’s teach and
  • work with other teachers, new and veteran, in a network as a team.

People crave connection.  New teachers want more than a job.  They want hope.  They want to contribute to a group.  They want to make a difference.

Induction programs provide that connection, because they are structured around a Learning Community where new and veteran teachers treat each other with respect and all contributions are valued.

Induction is a group activity.  As such, it fosters and continues an integrated professional culture.  New teachers want to learn; they are eager to contribute; they are anxious to help make a difference.  Most importantly, they want to belong to a community of learners.

New teachers want to observe others, to be observed by others, and to be part of networks or study groups where all teachers share together, grow together, learn to respect each other's work, and collaboratively become leaders together.

American education typically views teachers as independent operators, encouraged to be creative, and expected to do a good job behind closed doors.  Collaboration is rare.  Loneliness and lack of support further exacerbate the problems of beginning teachers.

Susan Moore Johnson says, “Our work suggests that schools would do better to rely less on one-on-one mentoring and, instead, develop schoolwide structures that promote the frequent exchange of information and ideas among novice and veteran teachers.”

New teacher induction programs build a community of teachers, bringing together beginning teachers, experienced teachers, and school leaders in a collaborative setting where they can observe each other teach and engage in a culture of cooperation and continuous learning.

Only with a structured, sustained, multiyear induction program will we create a professional culture in which teachers thrive and grow throughout their careers – a critical element in reducing the exceedingly high rate of teacher attrition, resulting in quality teaching in all classrooms.

Attention New Teachers

Attention New Teachers: If you are a new teacher looking for a teaching job, you need to ask if the district has an induction program.  Districts with an induction program care that you succeed.

Please do not be so naïve to think that you can succeed on your own without help.

When you interview for a job, there are ten questions you need to ask.  To see what these questions are, go to “How to Recognize Where You Want to Be” ( and “$50,000 to Replace Each Teacher” (

Three Successful Induction Programs

Student learning improves when students are rigorously taught by HIGHLY TRAINED teachers who are effective.

The following three school districts have highly successful new teacher induction programs.

Islip Public Schools.  Linda Lippman is the director of human resources and the director of the new teacher induction program for this New York school district.  She has the responsibility of training the teachers she hires and her efforts have paid off.

In the 1998-1999 school year before a formal induction program was installed, Islip retained 29 of the 46 new teachers hired.  In the subsequent three school years from 1999 to 2002 when the formal, three-year new teacher induction program was in place, they retained 65 teachers out of 68 hired.

New teachers constantly work on team building and problem solving techniques with model lessons and sharing sessions where they “steal” from each other, networking and building respect with each other, the veteran teachers, and the administration.

The skill-building activities are aligned to the standards required by the district.  The benefits to the teachers are evident, because the Islip schools have seen a resulting improvement in student achievement, which the central office views as resulting from improved teacher performance.  The difference in student achievement is shown.

The New York Regents exams represent the gold standard in academic achievement. To graduate with a prestigious Regents diploma, students must pass five state exams with a score of 65 or better.

School Year
Induction Year
Regents Diplomas Earned



34 percent


Year 2

65 percent


Year 6

73 percent


Year 7

82 percent


Year 8

GOAL – 93 percent

The major focus of the Islip induction program is to immerse new teachers in the district’s culture and to unite them with everyone in the district as a cohesive, supportive instructional team.

New teachers quickly become a part of the district’s “family.” Induction fosters a sense of belonging among teachers, which in turn fosters a sense of belonging among students.

Homewood-Flossmoor High School District

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District in Flossmoor, Illinois, has a lifelong professional development program called Homewood-Flossmoor University.

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District uses the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) model, “Professional Development: Learning from the Best” (Hassel, 2002), to structure their induction and professional development program.  The model answers the question, “What do we need to do to improve student learning?”  To formulate a clear plan of what kind of instructional practice they want to promote, they design an induction and professional development structure with the following plan for improving student learning:

What are our student educational goals?
What are our actual student performance?
What are our student learning gaps?


What staff skills are needed to close student gaps?
What are our actual staff skills?
Our Professional Development Needs

As stated before, effective induction programs have an organized plan.  In the case of the Homewood-Flossmoor district, a formula is used to determine what professional development plan is to be used to produce effective teachers for student learning.

When schools and school districts have an organized, coherent, and sustained induction and professional development process, they will most likely demonstrate improved teaching and student learning.

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School District is a three-time distinguished school award winner.

Flowing Wells Schools.  The Flowing Wells Schools are located in Tucson, Arizona, and they have what is often called the “mother-of-all” induction programs.

They have had an induction program for 20 years and the program is so comprehensive, coherent, and sustained that people flock to their annual induction workshop every spring to learn about how to structure an effective induction program.

The director of the induction program for all 20 years has been Susie Heintz.  Every teacher and administrator has been though “Susie School.”  The result is that the Flowing Wells Schools have produced more teacher-of-the-year nominees and winners than any other school district in Arizona.

In their eight-year (that’s correct) induction process, teachers are taken through stages of development, from novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, to expert teacher.

Information on their induction workshop can be obtained by contacting Susie Heintz at or by fax at 520-690-2400.

Full details on their induction process can be read in New Teacher Induction: How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers, by Breaux and Wong.  A sample can be seen on, Online Books.

The True Benefit of Induction

It’s so simple, yet so profound.  Teachers teach and students learn.  Improve the teacher and you improve the student.

Since it is the teacher who holds the key to student achievement, a district must have an induction program that immediately focuses the new teacher on a district’s mandate and goal of student learning.

The induction program then is to flow seamlessly into a lifelong professional development program.  The process of lifelong professional development must become a priority—for the sake our students.  The students deserve no less than the very best.

For more information on new teacher induction, please go to

In particular, access

April 8, 2005
“New Teacher Induction: The Foundation for Comprehensive, Coherent, and Sustained Professional Development”

February 1, 2005
"Significant Research and Readings on Comprehensive Induction"

January 21, 2005
"What the World Can Teach Us About New Teacher Induction"

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