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

$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 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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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

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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)

$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

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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

May 2004

His Students are All Certified

This month we focus on a successful welding teacher and the classes he inspires.

Wait; please don’t stop reading just yet.  We know you’re saying, but I teach reading and math.  How can I relate to a welding teacher’s experience?  Read on.  You’ll be glad you invested the time.

Jeff Smith teaches welding at a Career Tech Center in Pryor, Oklahoma, and in his four years of teaching, he has gone from almost being fired for his poor classroom management skills to being recognized as the best welding instructor in the state.  He writes to us and says, “You saved my job, and someday I want to help other beginning teachers just like you helped me.”  So, this is his chance to share what he did to turn his career around.

Jeff currently has 37 students enrolled in his welding class, which is a record number for any such class in the state.  His classes hold the record in the state of Oklahoma for the most career tech students certified under an industry standard welding certification (Section 9/State Steam Card Certification) in one day.  His record is an awe inspiring 33 students!

In his five years, all 85 students have passed the Section 9/State Steam Card Certification test.  In addition, many of his students gave up athletics to be in his class and to be able to save up the $75 to take the Section 9/Steam Card Certification test at the end of the school year.

The Department of Career Tech told Jeff in his fifth-year evaluation that his former students had the highest pay average for high school graduates in the state.  He says, “Not bad for someone who they wanted to can a few years ago!”

But, Jeff was like so many beginning teachers.  He knew his subject matter, but was clueless when it came to classroom management.  Each day was a struggle until he did something that changed his teaching career—he listened to one of our tapes and then made a choice to be successful.

Becoming a successful teacher is really just a matter of choice.

Ninety percent of being a successful teacher is attitude.  The right attitude breeds the right behaviors, and the right behaviors breed success.

Successful Teachers Come in All Subjects

Successful teachers are innovative planners, exceptional classroom managers, adept critical thinkers, and competent problem-solvers. (

You see them standing at the classroom door waiting eagerly for students to arrive on the first day of school. They set procedures and establish routines that ensure student success. They model appropriate behaviors and interactions. They have well-developed discipline plans, but rarely need to use them. (

They work collaboratively with others to develop new lessons and materials that will capture the attention of the students.  You can find successful teachers at every level of education, and in every educational setting, teaching every conceivable subject.

A successful teacher is a PROFESSIONAL.  He or she dresses for success, wearing a uniform of professional pride Just as a phys ed teacher wears tennis shoes and clothes that allow freedom of movement for teaching sports or related subject matter, a classroom teacher dresses for success by wearing professional attire appropriate to a classroom learning environment. When the teacher starts to model appropriate dress, the students soon see what is acceptable in the classroom.

Smith is a successful teacher.  We know this because he practices professionalism, adhering to the codes of dress and conduct accepted by the welding industry.

He is a leader in welding education, integrating certification requirements in his lessons.  His students are the most accomplished junior welders in the state.

He models the behaviors of success for his students—and his students are successful. In addition to all of his students becoming certified, his second-year students have also become certified in advanced welding concepts such as Exotic Metals and Boiler and Pressure Vessel Certification.

Successful Teachers Plan Their Lessons

A successful teacher sets students up for success by using solid lesson planning, organization, and management skills. (  Like any successful teacher, Smith begins every school year ready for success.  He sets goals, plans lessons, and reviews his discipline plan with his administrator.  He follows the routines and procedures outlined in Chapter 20 of The First Days of School. He prepares his students for success.

There is absolutely no research correlation between success and family background, race, national origin, financial status, or even educational accomplishments. There is but one correlation with success, and that is attitude.

Jeff Smith expects nothing but the best of his students, and the students rise and perform to his expectations. Jeff prepares his students for success by modeling behaviors and establishing goals for his students to work towards accomplishing.

Goals for Success in Welding Technology

  1. Show up on time everyday; if you are going to be late or absent for any reason, call me.  It is unacceptable in the real world not to call, and we are training for the real world.
  2. We will dress and conduct ourselves like professionals in our trade, at all times.  Our trade will afford to us a successful livelihood; and we will treat it with respect at all times.
  3. To become an accomplished welder it takes 200 pounds of welding rod.  Each of us will use this much before May 14, 2004.
  4. May 14, 2004 we will take and pass our Section 9/State Steam Card Certification of the American Welding Society Weld Code.
  5. We are recognized as the very best Instructional Welding School in this state.  We are the very best class on this campus.  If for any reason you feel that you will be unable to be a part of this fantastic team, please see me after class today.

Jeff establishes goals of professional behavior for his students.  The goals follow industry expectations, so that students learn the behaviors and attitudes of success that they will need to succeed in the real world.

Jeff also gives his students examples to live by.  He leads by example, modeling the very behaviors, mode of dress, and attitudes he expects from his students.

If you model behaviors you expect students to perform, students will perform to your expectations.

Jeff shared an anecdote that illustrates how he modeled appropriate behaviors in terms that his students could relate to.

       My new students were still bringing me welds with the slag left on them wanting me to critique their work. To each student, I would say clean off your work before you show me your weld. Please take pride and remove the slag. Each time it would be the same story; they would continue to bring me welds with the slag not completely cleaned off!
       So, Tuesday after school I ordered a very large and beautiful chocolate cake, with the most-lovely icing that you have ever seen. And on my way to school yesterday, I picked up plates. I was set.
       After my students were seated I told them the truth; that they had made progress--further along and quicker than any other class that I ever had. I also told them how proud I was of them, and to celebrate we were going to have cake for breakfast. Each student raised his hand in eager anticipation.
       Then I did the unthinkable; I took my hand, grabbed up a scoop of cake, slopped it on a plate, and served one to each of my students.
       "AHHHHHH. What are you doing Mr. Smith?"
       "I'm serving you what you try to serve me each day! You see gentlemen, the cake is beautiful, but the way in which I CHOSE to serve it is very poor and unprofessional. You bring me welds in the same condition as this ruined cake!"
       Then, I had each of them dump their cake. I got out another equally beautiful cake, and served it like a professional. As I was serving, I asked them what the differences between the first and second times were.
       It was a great day, and all the welds turned into me thereafter were very clean and neatly done.

By using the chocolate cake as a metaphor for the welds, Jeff was able to connect to the students and show them what they were doing incorrectly with their welds and then show them how to correct their inappropriate technique. His modeling produced the desired outcome—no more substandard work.

Successful Teachers Plan Their Procedures

Jeff admits that he learned what he knows from other master teachers.  He begins each day with the same routines and continues his class using the same procedures—reinforcing the good work habits he has instilled in his students.

Procedure for Entering the Classroom

There are procedures for entering the classroom and students know exactly what to expect when they come to class.
His procedures are

  • Enter class quietly;

  • Go to your seats;

  • Sit and converse quietly with a neighbor until the teacher signals that he is going to start class;

  • When the teacher begins his lesson, students stop talking;

  • Face the teacher and listen.

Jeff begins his lessons consistently in the same way each day.  He works on building rapport with this students by asking them about their day. He then reviews the class’ progress on the previous day’s assignment; discussing any issues that arose, and asking the students to participate in problem solving.

He speaks enthusiastically and varies his voice to keep students interested and engaged. He compares himself to a drill instructor—speaking loudly and clearly, so that the students can hear him over the noises in the shop. He also uses a whistle to get the class’ attention if he has something to show them.

Smith regularly stops the class to celebrate student successes.  He allows students to view excellent work by others in the class, calling their attention to examples of truly great welds.  This allows students to enjoy the weld before it is cut out and tested, and it also reinforces student motivation.

Teaching - Learning Procedures

Procedures are also used to teach the content of the class.  His “show and do” procedures are

  • Students get into groups of four.

  • Students are shown how to do a particular weld.

  • The teacher explains how and why he is doing things.

  • Students can ask questions if they need further explanation.

  • Students return to their seats and recreate the weld.

Small group size in needed for all of the students to get a good, close look at how the weld is done and to hear the instructions and reasons why things are done a certain way.

Giving students examples of “A” work helps them to understand the expectations of the task—and if they know what the teacher expects, they will work to meet that expectation.

Jeff does not sit down on the job. Rather, he is on his feet the entire class teaching, guiding, and showing students examples of great welds created by classmates.  He stays in shape and continues to practice welding to stay proficient at what he does, and he expects students to do the same.  The level of commitment Jeff shows to his teaching is the same level of commitment he expects from his students in their learning behaviors.

A professional welder works for an average of ten hours a day. The students have to work two hours and fifty minutes, and he requires them to be on task, working on their welding projects the entire time, unless he calls their attention to a lesson or to another student’s weld.

While waiting for instructions, Smith has his students practice different hand manipulations—a behavior needed to do a proper weld.  And no on task time is lost in Jeff’s class as the students are expected to practice these hand manipulations even what waiting in line to sharpen their pencils!

Signs of Success

Even though all of his students have experienced failures of some kind before they came to him, Jeff’s encouragement and guidance have made a success out of every one of his students.  His students are successful because he sets them up for success.

Jeff has no discipline problems in his class.  The students are a team, working together to help one another succeed.  He instills the value of teamwork in his students—a value highly regarded in the welding industry.

Student success is evident in other ways as well.  The students respect one another, their teacher, and the work they do.  They take pride in their accomplishments and strive to succeed.  By year end, the students have constructed a 50 foot pipeline in the classroom.  What a monument to their success!

Effective Teachers Can Adapt Ideas from Other Teachers

Jeff’s classroom practices are not unique. They can be seen in classrooms of other successful teachers. You may not see it happening in a welding classroom, but you will see the concepts being practiced by a multitude of teachers in a variety of settings. Recall that Jeff said he adapted work from The First Days of School to help him formulate his successful strategies. Bear in mind that how to teach welding is not mentioned in The First Days of School!

Successful teachers identify ideas and techniques that work and adapt them for use in their own classrooms.

In the beginning of this article we said that success is a matter of choice.  If you choose to be a successful teacher you are an inspiration to your students, a leader among your peers, and a professional in education.

We all have the power to be successful; we make choices that lead to success or failure everyday, all day.  Choose to be a success, and share your successes with others.

Education is a sharing profession. What better way to give back to the profession than to share with other educators so they can choose to grow and learn from you.

Your impact is sure to go beyond your realm of understanding and knowledge.  Your technique inspires another teacher’s technique that impacts the life of children.  In a way, this is the perfect weld. And to Jeff Smith, thank you for inspiring us to think beyond the traditional 3 Rs, and realize that all children are capable of success if we choose to expect it of them.

For a printable version of this article click here.

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