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Vol 21 No 6

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Effective Teaching
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Special to the Gazette
May 2013

Practical Examples That Work

Through the years, we’ve featured schools that have put into place the practices of effective teachers.  You may recall their stories and if not, we’ve given you the link to read their original articles.  At the end of this column, we’ll share with you an opportunity to learn from these leaders firsthand.

Achieving AYP

Karen WhitneyKaren Whitney, principal, inherited a school with 526 discipline referrals.  Four years later that number is down to 54, along with increased attendance.  Besides reducing the problems that consumed learning time, she and her teachers focused on a common lesson template and threading literacy throughout their instruction.  Their efforts produced the first public school on an Indian reservation to achieve AYP.

Annual Discipline Referrals

School Year

# of Referrals


08 - 09



09 - 10



10 - 11



11 - 12



12 - 13



Sisseton Middle School in South Dakota continues to thrive.  Their success is replicable.  How they created a consistent school environment can be found in this past column.  The common lesson template and their focus on literacy can be found in this past column.

Reducing Discipline Referrals

Merlyna ValentineMerlyna Valentine, principal of St. Rose Elementary School, returned to her school after a two-year medical absence to find 574 discipline referrals.  Three years later that number dwindled to 89.  In 2012, the school received the “Top Gain” School Award by the Louisiana Department of Education for raising the School Performance Score by 8.6 points to 104.6.  With more time to focus on learning, the children are achieving in a consistent school environment. 

Annual Discipline Referrals

School Year

# of Referrals

08 - 09


09 - 10


10 - 11


11 - 12


Merlyna attributes this success to the schoolwide procedures in place that teach responsibility.  To see how they established consistency at the school, read this past column.

Qualifying for a Full Tuition Scholarship

Carrie CoppCarrie Copp is a housemaster—principal of one of the four 1000+ student campuses that make up Brockton High School.  Ten years ago, Brockton had some of the worst test scores in the state, where some 75 percent of the students failed state tests and over one-third of the students dropped out.

Today, Brockton outperforms 90 percent of the high schools in Massachusetts.  The students at Brockton come from underachieving populations and from homes that could be challenging, if not chaotic.  For seven hours a day at Brockton, the students find a culture of consistency, predictability, and safety as they go from classroom to classroom.

Brockton High School Scholarship WinnersLast year, one-third of the graduating class qualified for a four-year, full tuition scholarship to any public university or college in Massachusetts.

Starting out as a teacher, Carrie has worn many hats at Brockton High School and has been involved from the beginning in the transformation at the school.  As co-chair of the Restructuring Committee, she was directly involved in the planning and implementation of the changes that needed to be made at the school.  Read this past column for the details of the transformation at Brockton High School. 

Ranking #1 in New York City

Rose KerrRose Kerr is principal of PS 861, a K-8 school also known as the Staten Island School of Civic Leadership (SISCL).  The school is the brainchild of hers and her assistant principal, Donna Nilsen.  Within two years, SISCL earned the distinction as the highest rated school in the New York City Public Schools out of 1,440 schools.  This neighborhood school is remarkably simple, yet dramatically productive.

Progress Report RatingThe innovation at this school is how the teachers work together.  Rose divided her entire staff into triads, not professional learning communities, not teams, but triads.  There is a high level of trust for the professionalism of teachers to determine the curriculum, teach the kids, and solve their own problems.  The students have multiple professionals to chart their progress and the teachers have each other for collaboration and support.  Read this past column to read about the trust that exists at SISCL.  Read this past column to read about the collaboration that exists at SISCL. 

Producing Award-Winning Teachers

Nic ClementNic Clement is superintendent of the Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona.  The Flowing Wells Unified School District has the finest professional development program in America.  The carefully thought-out professional development program is comprehensive, coherent, and sustained.  Every teacher and administrator, even one who has taught for years elsewhere, receives 21 hours of instruction in effective instructional practices.

The Flowing Wells professional development program emphasizes five critical attributes that are the cornerstones of the district’s vision:

  1. Effective instructional practices
  2. Effective classroom management procedures and routines
  3. A sensitivity to and understanding of the Flowing Wells community
  4. Teaching as a reflection of lifelong learning and ongoing professional growth
  5. Unity and teamwork among administration, teachers, support staff, and community members

As a result, Flowing Wells has produced more teacher-of-the-year nominees and winners than any other district in Arizona.  Read this past column to learn more about the success of this school district. 

Turning Around a Dysfunctional School

Chelonnda SeroyerChelonnda Seroyer arrived at Phoenix Academy in Detroit, Michigan, and saw no organization, no structure, no rules, no procedures, no lesson objectives—basically, no culture of consistency that would serve as a pathway to success for the students and the teachers.  The students were left each day to flounder and survive in whatever was the prevailing environment.

What Chelonnda saw from room to room was a gross lack of schoolwide procedures, with everyone operating in a toxic environment of inconsistency, which resulted in confusion and a loss of learning everywhere.  The children were hostages of a school that lacked any culture—or consistency.  Children and parents hoping to find a sanctuary at the school only found more chaos to support their already chaotic lives.

Read this past column to see how Chelonnda, the assistant principal, and a teacher turned this school around in one year.

Focusing on Effectiveness for Thirty Years

Harry and Rosemary WongOur journey through this amazing profession has had one consistent message—the teacher is the most important factor in student achievement.  Over 1 million educators have heard this message in speeches.  Over 3 million educators have come in contact with our materials and the feedback has been consistent—it works!

What we say is research-based and has influenced hundreds of thousands of educators through the years.  The more than 120 columns we have written for reflect many of the practices teachers, schools, and school districts have put into practice.  Each column has had its own unique spin on what the teachers, schools, and districts have done to achieve effectiveness.  And while the settings and circumstances are all unique, the common thread is—it’s the teacher—and what the teacher does in the classroom to get students to achieve.  The more effective the teacher, the better the opportunity for children to learn.

Inviting You to Learn from the Best

We’ve gathered the people we have highlighted in this column to join us at two conferences this June.  Last year, some of the same people were with us at the same conference hosted by Louisiana State University.  That conference sold out one month in advance.  We’re doing the conference again, adding some new speakers and adding one more venue outside of Chicago, Illinois.  Unlike many meetings you possibly attend that have no agenda, no focus, this meeting is laser-focused on one thing:  How to create an effective school for student achievement. 

This IS NOT a conference

  • with a mélange, mishmash, and jumble of speakers and workshops to pick from.
  • where a government or philanthropic turnaround, curriculum program, initiative or evaluation system will be proposed.
  • where money is needed to implement the strategies shared.
  • where costly technology will be needed.
  • where platitudes, clichés, buzzwords, or admonishments abound.
This IS an implementation conference
  • where you will hear each speaker.
  • where you will be shown how to create an effective school with effective teachers.
  • where everyone is accessible for questions and discussion.
  • where the focus is on helping YOU become effective.
  • where you will leave with the tools to DO IT and expect results.

If anyone needs a blueprint to organize a school for
learning and achievement, the Wongs have it for you.

Wayne Watts, Principal
Stockbridge, Georgia


Day 1 of the conference is geared to school leaders and anyone who dreams of being one.  Day 2 is targeted for the classroom teacher.  It’s a day where we and Chelonnda Seroyer will show you how to organize and run your classroom to

  • get your students to do what you want them to do.
  • get your students to learn what you want them to learn.
  • start class with no wasted time.
  • eliminate discipline problems.
  • teach procedures so every student knows what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.
  • establish consistency so the class responsibly runs itself.
  • write meaningful assignments that result in student learning.
  • assess for student learning to help students make progress.

The bottom line—just do it.  It WORKS!

Attend one or both days.  It’s an investment in your professional career.  Click here to go to the conference page for the June 10 and 11 meeting in Baton Rouge, LouisianaClick here to go the conference page for the June 24 and 25 in Matteson, Illinois, outside of Chicago.

We hope to see you and your team at one of these meetings.  You will leave energized, refreshed, and empowered to continue on your journey in the noblest of all professions—teaching.



For a printable version of this article click here.

About Effective Teaching...

Harry and Rosemary Wong have been writing columns for Teachers.Net for over 13 years and the columns all have a distinctive style. They write about effective teachers, administrators, schools, and school districts featuring techniques that are immediately replicable and at no cost. More importantly, they work to enhance student learning. An archive of past articles can be found at the end of every column, with an abstract of all articles at the end of the most recent June column.

For over 30 years, helping teachers become effective has been the passion of the Wongs. Writing for Teachers.Net is just one of the many ways they reach out to educators with their ideas on how effective teachers improve student learning.

About Harry & Rosemary Wong...

Harry and Rosemary WongHarry 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 Horace Mann Outstanding Educator Award, the National Teachers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal.  He was selected as one of the most admired people in education by the 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.  She was also honored as a Distinguished Alumnus from her alma maters, Southeastern Louisiana University and Louisiana State University.

Harry and Rosemary have been awarded the Upton Sinclair Award and were nominated for the Brock International Prize in Education. They have built and sustain a school in the jungles of Cambodia.

The Wongs are the most sought after speakers in education today, booked two years into the future. Their presentations are practical, offering a common sense, user-friendly, and no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success. Over a million teachers worldwide have heard their message. In spite of their heavily booked schedule, Harry and Rosemary have agreed to write this monthly column so that more people can hear their message.

How They Develop Effective Teachers...

Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to developing effective teachers, one teacher at a time.
To do this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO.

THE Classroom Management Book is what everyone has been waiting for. It is an exhaustive extension of Unit C on classroom management in The First Days of School.


  • Turn chaos into student achievement
  • Reduce behavior issues; increase learning
  • Step-by-step plans to a well-managed classroom
  • 50 procedures in detail
  • 40 QR codes with additional resources
  • 320 pages in full color
  • Complete first days of school plans
  • Suitable for all grades, all subjects, all teachers
  • Costs no money to implement

How to Be an Effective and Successful Teacheris an audio CD set that was recorded live before 800 teachers in St. Louis.  Listen as they walk you through classrooms that hum with learning and share how you can replicate the same success in your classroom.  In 2 hours and 40 minutes, Harry and Rosemary can transform you into a very effective and successful teacher at no cost!

This presentation has transformed the lives and teaching success of hundreds of thousands of teachers.
Learn how to


  • Begin the school year with a plan
  • Start class immediately
  • Have a well-organized and structured classroom
  • Reduce discipline problems
  • Have students who are engaged and working
  • Teach procedures and responsibility
  • Maximize classroom instructional time
  • Use lesson objectives so students know what they are to learn
  • Use rubrics to assess for student learning
  • Deal with at-risk students
  • Improve student learning and achievement


The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 3.8 million copies have been sold. It is used in 120 countries, 2,114 colleges, and most every new teacher induction program. The fourth edition has been translated into five foreign languages and includes:

  1. An additional chapter on procedures
  2. A new chapter on assessment with rubrics.
  3. A new chapter on Professional Learning Teams
  4. A new chapter for administrators on implementation 
  5. Additional information in Going Beyond Folders
  6. A new DVD, Using THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL, presented by Chelonnda Seroyer
TET 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 also have a successful 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 effective teachers.  Details for the classroom management course can be seen at

You can hear Harry Wong LIVE on a set of CDs, called
How to Improve Student Achievement
, recorded at one
of his many presentations.  He invites you to steal from him the secrets of effective teaching for all grade levels.
Never Cease to Learn has the power to transform your
attitude and your life.  In this DVD, Harry shares his journey on the road to success and tells listeners how to become the educators they were meant to be.

When the books, video series, CD, DVD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective professional development training tool for producing 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

Helping you produce effective teachers is our passion.

Harry & Rosemary Wong Columns on Teachers.Net...
Related Resources & Discussions on Teachers.Net...

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