District Takes Steps to Improve Staff Wellness
While programs to improve student wellness have been in schools for years, some districts now are focusing on staff health as well. Teachers in Batesville, Indiana, have participated in fitness competitions and this year some are training for a mini-marathon.
Virtual Active Technology Spurs Actual Exercise
Middle-schoolers in one Connecticut community cant wait for PE so they can run through the worlds cities, race mountain bikes, and ride skateboards and snowboards. The districts new virtual exercise equipment is getting gamers off the couch and into the fitness room.
Principals Launch School-Wide Wellness Programs
Many schools weave health awareness programs into their curriculum. Those programs improve school climate as they build wellness awareness in the wider community. Included: Principals share school-wide fitness, health, and nutrition awareness ideas.
Transition Programs Help Incoming Freshmen
Everyone knows the transition to high school can be a challenging one. Thats why high schools have initiated summer camps for incoming freshman and special programs that track and support students who experience difficulty during the first months in their new surroundings.
Letters Connect Generations
A pen pal program involving Utah fifth graders and senior citizens has created new connections between the generations and introduced students to the almost-lost art of formal letter-writing. The program is benefiting the entire community.
Place-Based Education Turns Towns into Classrooms
Place-based education projects get students involved in their learning and expand their perspectives of their community as they tackle real-world issues. The projects re-energize teachers as well. Included: Explore a handful of place-based education projects.
Student-Written Books Spread Anti-Bullying Message
No one is more knowledgeable about the causes and consequences of bullying than bullies and their targets. Two anti-bullying books written by middle school students aim to help peers and younger students realize the importance of speaking out against bullying.
Schools Crayon Factory Offers Hands-On Economics Lessons
The challenge of teaching economics to second graders got easier at one Virginia school when a teacher created a crayon factory that allows students to learn first-hand about raw materials, producers, consumers, natural resources, and marketing.
Plinkoball Helps Students
Exercise Math Skills
In search of a way to liven up the playground, elementary principal Sam Slarskey came up with Plinkoball, a game in which kids launch balls at funnels and calculate their scores based on where they were standing and the balls path to the ground.
Technology Closes Distance Between Kids, Schools
In the not-so-distant past, students had pen pals in other states and countries to learn about life elsewhere. Now with the help of Skype and other technology, kids are able to chat and work on assignments with students from across the district or across the world.
Students Experiment as Mad Scientists for a Day
Whats better than a hands-on science experiment? A school full of them! One Maryland elementary school holds a Mad Scientist Day so students and their parents can try all kinds of science activities. Included: Description of Mad Scientist Day projects.
Teachers Turn Classes Into Boot Camps
On a mission to improve student performance, some schools are starting boot camp-like programs to motivate kids before state tests. Student recruits march, chant, do sit ups, and pull for their battle buddies. Included: Tips for setting up a boot camp.
Staff Book Clubs Enhance Professional Development
When funding became available for staff book clubs, educators in Hamilton County, Tennessee, jumped at the chance to read professional literature. Teachers continue to read and discuss books about instructional and professional development strategies.
Academic Boot Camps Get Students in Test Shape
Concentrated reading and test-taking instruction in small groups -- known as boot camps -- is one of the strategies a California school district uses to help elementary and middle-school students on the cusp of proficiency improve their reading and test scores.
Principals Blog to Share and Archive School News
While traditional newsletters can be overlooked and lost in bottomless bookbags, blogs are timely, accessible, and fun. Principals who use them say blogs are simple to set up and easy to update. Included: Tips for beginners from experienced principal bloggers.
Principals Strive to Boost School Spirit
Every school experiences its share of challenges, but an invisible were-all-in-this-together spirit can go a long way toward carrying a school community through the highs and lows of a year. Included: Principals share their favorite spirit-building activities.
Keeping Kids Above the Line
Above and below are concepts most children grasp at a young age -- so that is the basis for the Above the Line behavior management approach, which stresses teaching children to keep their behavior Above the Line and encourages them to fix it when its not.
Fun Nights Teach Parents How to Teach Kids
To increase parent involvement both in school and at home, one intermediate school launched a series of Fun Nights to familiarize parents with the curriculum and pass on instructional strategies. Included: Tips to help parents help children with schoolwork.
Principal Traits That Teachers Appreciate
Principals try to cultivate traits that improve communication, demonstrate respect, and inspire vision. They say the key to whether those traits take hold school-wide lies in their modeling of them. Included: Principals share the principal traits that matter most.
Music Sends Toes Tapping to Class
When students at one school hear the theme music to "Mission Impossible," they know their mission: to get to class. The music helps set a tone for the day and gets kids moving in a timely fashion. Included: More principals share how they use music to hit the right notes.
Principal Podcasts Get to the Point
Whether they launched their podcasts at the suggestion of a parent or the gentle prodding of a tech-loving staff member, principals who have tried podcasting repeat the same refrain -- it is easy, inexpensive, and effective. Included: Learn about the free podcasting tools.
Turnaround Principals Are the New Sheriffs in Town
Their mission is to take charge of a failing or struggling school and try to turn it into a model institution. These turnaround principals bring formal training, insight, and instincts to their jobs. Included: Turnaround principals share strategies.
Learning Communities Share
For too long, teacher-to-teacher communication meant exchanging weekend plans in the faculty room. In professional learning community schools, teachers develop interim assessments, common goals, and share best practices.
Practical Advice for Principals in the Field
Whether a principal is new to the role or to a school, there is always a lot to learn about a school, its culture, and people. The New Principals Fieldbook offers administrators practical advice on how to process and prioritize all that information.
Applying High Expectations to Everyone
Principal Dr. Gerald Gary knew his students could do better -- he just had to convince them and their families. He improved student achievement and changed the schools culture by setting high expectations for everyone in the building.
School Adopts Yoga for Wellness, Behavior Management
Yoga, once linked primarily with Eastern religions, has found its way into the mainstream of life and U.S. classrooms. One Illinois school reported better test scores and fewer discipline problems after adopting a school-wide yoga program.
Enlisting the Community to Promote Achievement
Concerned that many urban students, especially African-American ones, were underachieving in school, Hugh B. Price made community involvement in local schools a focus of his tenure at the National Urban League as well as the subject of a book.
Bringing Back the Arts to
Help Boys Learn
Reducing or eliminating art, music, and creative programs to spend more time on academics has been particularly hard on boys, some educators think. Integrating the arts into lessons is helping two schools close the literacy gap between boys and girls.
Schools Parent University Graduates Active Parents
Rather than lamenting the lack of parent involvement, one Florida elementary school principal decided to reach out to parents and offer them a degree in how to be active parents. The schools Parent University graduated its first class of eager volunteers.
‘Are You Smarter…?’ Events Get Students’ Heads ‘In the Game’
Seeking new and motivating approaches to encourage students to excel on standardized tests, some administrators are borrowing the format of the program Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? to hold family game nights that prep students for those tests.
Student Spellers Earn Dollars for School
While looking for ways to raise money without spending money, a retired teacher heard about a spell-a-thon at another school and brought the idea to her former colleagues. Pledges students earned for correctly-spelled words yielded $15,000 for the school.
Pete Hall: Ten Things Ive Learned from My Students
Here I was, thinking that I was in charge of the instruction occurring within our walls. Then it hit me. I found myself simultaneously astonished and inspired at the lessons that were delivered to me by the very students to whom Ive pledged to deliver lessons.
Sugar Ban in School Yields Positive Results
When Dr. Yvonne Sanders-Butler was appointed principal, she knew she had a responsibility to change the way students were eating. Poor nutrition was impacting their academic performance and behavior, and she knew good nutrition could improve those things.
Voting for Mascots Teaches About Elections, Inspires Fun
Three schools have used a powerful process that mirrors the presidential electoral process to choose candidates and vote for a school mascot -- a representative symbol that will encourage, inspire, and sometimes entertain them for years to come.
The Questions I Wish Id Asked When Interviewing for the Principalship
As you prepare to interview for that next school leadership position, Education Worlds Principal Files team offers questions you might ask when the interviewers invite your participation. Included: Ten principals offer the questions they wished theyd asked.
Pete Hall: The Power of Positive Phrasing
At the state gymnastics championships, my daughter learned a valuable lesson about the power of positive phrasing. From her experience we educators might learn the power of framing challenges we face by using words that are uplifting and inspiring.
Principals Make Reading a School-Wide Goal
Students pledge to read thousands of pages. First- and fifth-graders buddy up for reading. Those events and others are part of school-wide reading programs at two Minnesota schools. Included: Additional activities to help make reading a school-wide goal.
College Day: A Corridor from Elementary to Academia
College Days at three elementary schools aim to get all students thinking about their futures. Whether the day involves guest speakers, visits to campus, or college courses taught by familiar teachers, the goal is to inspire kids to see themselves as college-bound.
Mix It Up at Lunch Day Teaches Tolerance
Last year, more than 8,000 schools participated in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, an event in which students gain new understandings -- and friends -- by eating with kids with whom they might not otherwise connect. Included: Three schools Mix It Up experiences.
Bus of the Month Program
Drives Better Behavior
In an effort to improve school bus behavior, two elementary schools started the Bus of the Month program, honoring the bus with the most thumbs up for good behavior in one month. Included: A description of a unique bus behavior program.
Teachers Lead Improvement at State Street School
Teachers at one Rhode Island elementary school are spearheading school-wide improvement, and the results have been positive. Principal Victor Ventura guides the improvements, but the teachers energy and commitment are making it happen.
Pete Hall: Dog Training and American Schools
So there I was, walking my pup down the snowy streets as I trained him to sit, stay, and get the neighbors cat, and then it came to me. If we really want to fix the American school system, we need to approach it more like training a puppy
Senior Projects a Win-Win for Students, Community
Troubled by the lack of direction shown by seniors, staff members at one school decided to give them an experience that might give them some focus. The surprising outcosmes for students and the surrounding community have impressed school staff and parents alike.
Carlton Ashby: Transforming Boys Into Men of VALOR
A few years ago, my colleagues discussed ways in which we might improve behavior, academics, and retention rates for the boys we taught. That discussion led to a mentorship program called Men of VALOR (which is an acronym for the life skills we hoped to develop).
Fitness Program Fortifies Bodies, Minds
Integrating a fitness and nutrition program into everyday lessons helped some elementary students tone up and prepare for a competition. On the way to the contest, students learned more about healthful eating, lost weight, and improved their test scores.
Male Teachers Show That Real Men Read
A library media specialist thought posters showing real men reading and men talking about the benefits of reading could be just the thing to encourage more boys to pick up books. The Real Men Read program is so successful that it has spread to other schools.
Pete Hall: The National Boards and Your School
Purchasing more computers and implementing the most recent save-the-world boxed programs are two ways to raise achievement. But neither of them can trump the one thing we all know makes the biggest difference in education.
Game Room Enhances Successful School Turn-Around
When Constance Burnes saw her efforts to improve student behavior and performance at Wilkerson Middle School pay off, she listened to the students when it came to deciding on a reward. She invested in a high-tech game room that is a powerful student motivator.
Enlisting Students to Create a Culture of Academic Integrity
Over at least the past decade, academic cheating has become more widespread and more accepted by many students. One researcher is piloting a project in which students and staff create, implement, and enforce academic integrity policies to help reduce cheating.
Teaching Service Is Part of Principal's Mission
Despite the pressures on schools to focus more on academics, Dr. Shannon Vincent is convinced it's her job as principal to teach students the value of service. She began a year-long, school-wide service program that engages students and their parents.
Schools 100 Mile Club Offers Exercise, Focus
With student fitness levels dropping and recess scuffles escalating, one school started a 100 Mile Club to improve student fitness and focus, and to provide some structure at recess. Students walk at least a half-mile daily to meet the goal of completing 100 miles.
Principal for a Day Programs Provide Lasting Benefits
Numerous school districts use the Principal for a Day experience to connect with businesses and community leaders for a few hours once a year. But many of those experiences turn into lasting partnerships that strengthen the school community and benefit students.
Districts Offer Incentives to Curb Teacher Absences
Several recent studies showing the negative impact of teacher absences on student achievement, plus rising substitute costs, have prompted some districts to offer teachers incentives to reduce the number of days they take off.
SAMs Free Principals from Administrative Tasks
Many principals have the training and desire to work on curriculum and instructional strategies, but are buried under administrative tasks. School Administration Managers (SAMs) free principals to meet with students and teachers to improve instruction and learning.
Recess Is Alive, (Mostly) Well
A few years ago parent groups were angered by news that recess was being eliminated at many schools. A new report shows that most elementary schools continue to offer recess, although children may get less time to play.
PBIS Rules, Rewards Boost Behavior and Academics
By relying on concise rules and frequent rewards, principals say the PBIS approach to school-wide behavior management drastically reduces discipline problems and improves academic performance among all students.
Practicing Love&Logic Can Mean Happier Schools
Stressing positive teacher-student relationships, empathetic adults, and differentiated consequences, the Love & Logic approach to behavior management has fans among teachers and parents. Included: Nine essential skills for teachers practicing Love & Logic.
Discipline with Dignity Stresses Positive Motivation
The Discipline with Dignity approach teaches educators to create positive motivators for kids so they take responsibility for their own behavior. Included: Examples of Discipline with Dignity in action.
Teaching Heroes, Toss the Zeros
Facing grade books filled with zeros, some teachers have decided that they simply won't accept incomplete assignments or "zeros." They have created programs that get the work done and improve students grades and self-confidence. Included: Three approaches that work.
The School Day: Fitting In Everything Requires Creative Scheduling
Making time in the school day to emphasize academics, tutor students who need help, schedule planning times for teams, or meet many other needs is a challenge all principals face. Our Principal Files team shares how they make time for these things and more.
Big Test Pep Rallies: 2, 4, 6, 8 -- Taking Tests and Feeling Great!
A little stress over tests can keep kids on their toes, but too much will knock them off their feet. Lowering test stress is why many schools are using the popular "pep rally" to get students excited and motivated to do their best. Included: Cheers, skits, and more.
Pete Hall: Get Your Learnin On
Education fluctuates more than a rattlesnakes temperature. We cannot wait two years, then emerge and ask, What did I miss? Education moves much too fast for that. So what can we do to keep our heads in the game? Here are some ideas
Morning Meetings in Middle School: An Elementary Ritual Grows Up
Many elementary classes start each morning with a meeting, but more and more middle school teachers are realizing that their students crave the community and camaraderie of the morning meeting too. Included: Four components of a morning meeting.
Principals Favorite Read-Aloud Books: 2008
Do you love to read aloud to students? If so, you understand that modeling a joy of reading is one of the most valuable things you can do. So what is the book you most love to share? Here are our Principal Files principals favorites. Please add yours!
Principals’ Classrooms Visits Help Build Better Readers
When principals and literacy coaches understand what students are learning and teachers are teaching -- and participate in literacy lessons -- they set a positive tone for the school that can lead to improvement in reading, say author and educator Dr. Beth Whitaker.
a href="/a_admin/admin/admin519.shtml">Sports4Kids: Reforming Recess by Teaching the Rules of Play
Is recess the most harried time of your day? A time when fights and visits to the nurse's office skyrocket? Before you eliminate recess, consider these principals thoughts about Sports4Kids, a program that has reformed their playgrounds and restored order to recess.
Organizing Staff Meetings Even You Want to Attend
Do you run your staff meetings like press briefings -- that is, read the news and run? More principals should use faculty meetings as opportunities for problem-solving and professional development, according to the authors of Energizing Staff Meetings.
The principalship is one step shy of One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest, so a little diversion is nice. But when all the diversions in our day get in the way of what is most important, we need to say Stop it! because sometimes succinct wins.
“Souper Bowl” Connects Kids to Their Communities
Don’t miss this opportunity for your school to connect with the community during Super Bowl week. Each year, the Souper Bowl of Caring involves students as they collect millions of pounds of food to benefit local organizations. Participation tips included.
Guidelines for Grading Principals Stress Multiple Benchmarks
Concerned that administrators might not have enough input into NCLB-inspired criteria for assessing principals, a national principal association has offered criteria that include more than test scores. Included: NASSPs recommendations, comments from NAESP.
Reformers, School Leaders Work
Closely to Improve Schools
Sometimes an outside perspective is what is needed to jump-start change. Some districts are committing to reform through long-term partnerships with foundations and centers that can provide consultants, money, and other resources.
More Schools Turn to Extended Days
Hours of test preparation, especially in underperforming schools, has left little time for electives or even some of the un-tested basic subjects. Adding time to the school year and day has helped some schools improve their scores and flesh out their curriculums.
Principals Share Programs That Work
There are hundreds of programs out there. Some claim to raise student achievement. Others aim to improve student behavior, stop bullying, or keep kids off drugs But do these programs work? Included: Principals share ten programs that work.
Mapping Instruction With
Officials in one school district needed to know if their instructional interventions were working. They needed data reported more often than state tests could provide, so they created an online assessment tool that has improved instruction and raised test scores.
Order in the Cafeteria: Tips for Improving Behavior and Supervision
Some principals have nightmares about cafeteria time. But with rules for traffic flow and behavior firmly in place, many principals say lunchtime can run hitch-free. Included: Tips for improving behavior, training monitors, and planning trouble-free recess time.
The Best Thing About This Year
So what was the best thing to happen in your school this past school year? Was it a special event? A school-wide effort that paid off? A special recognition? A kid who made great strides?... Read what our Principal Files principals had to say.
Beyond Standardized Testing: District Focuses on Assessing the Whole Child
Concerned that high-stakes testing was narrowing student assessment down to a few scores, educators in one Illinois district developed a system to assess a wide range of skills -- including thinking skills and social skills -- they wanted students to master.
Pete Hall: Changing Addresses
Forward this column to anyone you know who will have a new principals office in the coming school year. That includes new principals beginning their first assignments and vets who are moving to new schools or districts. Plus: Tips for starting off on the right foot.
Test-Stressed Out: Strategies for Improving Attitudes, Scores
Whether it is simple butterflies or a severe case of "test anxiety," students can feel overwhelming pressure to succeed on high-stakes tests. But educators can provide the tools students need to do their best. Strategies included: Get ICE, sticky notes, more.
This Is Only a Test
Testing may not be a favorite activity, but it is here to stay. When the adults around them are nervous -- or worse yet, negative -- about standardized tests, students can adopt those attitudes as well. Included: Simple tips to help administrators facilitate a smooth test day.
Teachers, Parents, Kids Bond Over Books
Inviting parents to participate in a book discussion group with teachers has led to better relationships between teachers and parents and a deeper understanding of current education and child-rearing issues. Included: Tips for starting a group at your school.
Principals' Feats Fuel Fabulous Reading
What would students do to see a principal camp on the roof, become a human sundae, kiss a pig, or get slimed? Turns out they will do a great deal -- of reading! Many principal are capitalizing on students' desire to see them do wacky stunts and build reading skills.
Administrators Praise Three-Minute Walk-Throughs
Since one North Carolina school district started using three-minute walk-throughs, principals have become more involved with curriculum, provided support for educators, and learned from students. Included: How a three-minute walk-through program works.
Pete Hall: Why 100 Matters
According to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, all students -- thats 100 percent of enrolled students -- will test proficient by the 2013-2014 school year. Do you know what 100 percent really means? One goal-oriented school in Washington State does!
Pete Hall: Four Things You Must Do in 2007
For this new year, let's promise ourselves we won't overdo it with pledges we can't keep. Let's make a few subtle shifts in our attitude that can pay substantial dividends in our daily routines. Let's make a special effort to do these "Four Things You Must Do in 2007."
More (Short) Tests Can Help Learning
With all the testing going on these days, it's hard to imagine doing more. But some schools are finding that assessing students throughout the year with short tests can improve learning and better prepare kids for the big tests. The idea is backed up by research.
Bulletin Boards: Powerful Teaching, Community-Building Tools
Bulletin boards loaded with student work add personality to school hallways and speak volumes about what teachers value most. Included: Ed World's "Principal Files" team speaks about the power of bulletin boards from the primary grades to high school.
Best Bulletin Boards: Principals Share Favorite Hallway Displays
Some bulletin boards reflect student learning. Some attract attention as they display students' work or family photos. Others simply brighten school hallways. Included: Principals share "best bulletin boards."
Saving Kids from Stress
Facing fierce competition to get into top colleges, many students are compromising their health and values to get ahead. Experts are even seeing stress levels increase at the elementary school level. Some educators are working to reduce the pressures on students.
Teachers Teaching Teachers: Professional Development That Works
If you're not capitalizing on the expertise of your school's teaching team, you're missing out on the most effective professional development around. Ed World's "Principal Files" principals share their experiences with and enthusiasm for teachers-teaching-teachers PD.
"Recovery Rooms" Put Disruptive Students on Road to Recovery
Are disruptive students inhibiting learning in your school? If so, the answer may be creating a place for them to refocus and regroup -- a "recovery room." With guidance, students can reflect on their mistakes and find ways to improve.
Pairing At-Risk High School, Elementary Kids Benefits Both
Mixing at-risk high school and elementary-aged students might sound like a plan for perpetuating bad habits. But when asked to serve as mentors, the high school students stepped up, and they and their charges are learning about themselves and each other.
It's Time to Reinvent the Principalship
The idea of a single principal who can do everything is not working. Here are eight recommendations for reinventing the principalship to help reduce stress on current administrators and entice new candidates to the profession.
Principals as Leader-Managers
Principals often view leadership and management as two different roles, but the most effective principals know how to blend the two. Included: Tips for combining leadership and management skills to be a more effective administrator.
Counseling: A School Improvement Tool
The role of counselors in schools is expanding from just attending to individual students to leading discussions and activities for groups of students that can help improve school performance and behavior.
BRAVO Principals Act With Courage, Conviction
Making difficult decisions requires courage. A principal's acts of courage help ensure that all children learn. Those acts also serve as catalysts; they motivate colleagues to act with courage. Included: Sandra Harris offers ten actions of courageous principals.
Getting Kids to Read By Keeping Their Eyes on the Prize
Educators know that children who read and are read to are more likely to become life-long readers. That's why many schools are using reading incentives -- from reading honor rolls to "prize patrols" -- to encourage kids. And they're reading more as a result.
Create a School Profile Brochure
Most corporations have professional brochures that promote their history, goals, and results. So, asks George Pawlas, why shouldn't schools create brochures to boast of their history, their stats and awards, their community connections, and their visions and goals?
Got Motto? -- Twelve Slogans to Help Build School-Wide Community
You've seen those celebrity-filled "Got Milk" magazine ads? Now it's time to meet the "Got Motto" poster principals! They're using school-wide slogans to spur enthusiasm, inspire teamwork, and build community. Included: Twelve mottos for your consideration.
Triumph Over Truancy: Tips for Improving Student Attendance
Greater learning, a brighter future, less delinquency, and more funds for schools -- there are countless benefits to increased student attendance. Many schools are coming up with novel approaches to resolve their truancy woes. Will their ideas work in your school?
Morphing Your Elementary School Into a Literacy Academy
We used to call them grammar schools. Now we call them elementary schools. I propose a new definition of our schools -- especially those that service the primary grades. We need to shift our mindset and rename them as
Community Effort Links In-School, After-School Learning
Louisville, Kentucky, school officials wanted youngsters to get more out of their after school hours. With the help of a software program, schools share data with after-school program staff who develop content to address students' areas of weakness.
"Together We Can" Motto Spurs Columbia Elementary's Success
Columbia Elementary's school motto is "Together We Can!" Together principal Lori Musser and staff members have adopted initiatives such as after-school clubs and intensive reading instruction to help students achieve.
Pawlas on PR: 50 Million Students Can't Be Wrong
Research says that people base their opinions of schools on what children tell them. That's why principals should take a good look at their schools from a kid's perspective. Included: Tips for improving students' -- and parents' -- perceptions of your school.
School-Wide Mail Delivery System Teaches Kids Letter-Writing, Responsibility
In this IM, e-mail age, many children haven't experienced the excitement of getting a hand-written letter. One popular program, though, allows students to write letters and work in an in-school post office. Included: See how it works, try it in your school!
Budgeting in the Accountability Age
Doing more with less has been the challenge for school districts in recent years, but now the demands of the No Child Left Behind Act, coupled with shrinking resources, are making budgeting even harder.
Principals Offer Practical, Timely "Time Management" Tips
Have you mastered the 3 D's (Delegate it, Dump it, or Do it)? Could a "closed-door policy" help you better manage your time? Maybe you should set up "satellite offices" -- or find a hiding place? EW's "Principal Files" team offers those tips and more.
Schools Where Wellness Is a Way of Life
The need for students to eat more healthful foods and get more exercise is getting a lot of attention in schools these days, but some school leaders are going a step further, developing wellness policies and health alliances with their communities.
BRAVO Principals Rekindle the Spirit
Sandra Harris says principals who encourage others "rekindle the spirit" of their schools. Harris shares ten ways in which principals are encouraging teachers and students and, as a result, creating a school-wide atmosphere of encouragement and achievement.
The Benefits of Being an MBWA Principal
As principal, getting out of the office and into classrooms can have countless benefits for your school. George Pawlas offers three easy and fun ways to get into classrooms more often. A couple of his ideas are accompanied by favorite classroom memories.
Pete Hall: 3 Steps to Embracing Change
Change is scary. But as leaders of school improvement, we are faced with the daunting challenge of making change a necessity, a known quantity, and fun. Yes, change is fun! If you don't believe that, come along with me.
Yearlong Themes: Principals Use Them to Build Spirit, Achievement
Does your school use a yearlong theme to motivate students and increase student achievement? Education World's "Principal Files" team shares a dozen ideas to help others see the power and potential of using yearlong, school-wide themes.
Building Positive Relationships With the Media
George Pawlas remembers the day he invited the newbie education reporter into his school. The guy hadn't stepped foot in a school in years! But that special invitation led to some great coverage. Included: Simple tips for getting good media coverage.
Panning for Gold in the Era of Accountability
Is your school's public perception in need of a little polishing? Even if your school is "in need of improvement," you can mine golden nuggets of good news and silver linings to make the school's image shine. Here are some ways you can do just that.
BRAVO Principals Share Power
EdWorld columnist Sandra Harris says sharing power means acknowledging that every faculty member at your school is a leader. By empowering others, you inspire others, you build a climate of trust and respect, and good decisions get made!
Always Strive to Be a Better You
Just as James Bond exists by the words "Live and let die" so award-winning principal Pete Hall lives by the words "Always strive to be a better you." How does Hall's motto guide his principalship? He shares ideas that might help all principals be their best.
Students Design School Uniforms
Telling a teen what to wear can be both futile and exhausting. So when Charlotte-Mecklenburg school officials were considering adopting student uniforms in three high schools, they recruited designers with insight into what kids would wear: other kids.
Staff Meeting Idea: Teachers "Stand" for Students
Looking for an inexpensive, powerful way to remind your staff of why they embarked on a career in education? Try "I Stand For...," an activity that asks teachers to rise and name a student for whom they have made a difference. Tips for using this activity included.
BRAVO Principals Create a Shared Vision for Student Success
Author and EdWorld columnist Sandra Harris says creating a shared vision does not mean telling the faculty what your vision is. Harris walks through steps involved in creating an all-staff Vision Day. Plus ideas for sustaining that vision once developed.
State Your Mission: Creating Mission Statements that Work
What is your school's mission statement? If it doesn't exist or you can't recall it, it's time to take another look. A mission statement can be a focal point for learning. It can guide all school activities, and even assist you in choosing the right people to join your staff.
Principals Hold Key to Teacher Retention
Recruiting and hiring teachers for schools is hard enough -- so its frustrating if teachers leave after a year or two. A Houston, Texas, principal talks about the important role a principal plays in retaining teachers.
What Great Principals Do Differently
You can tell great principals by what they do, what they say, and who works for them, according to educator, author, and speaker Dr. Todd Whitaker. They are the people who lead by example and recruit other effective people.
Schools Strive for Waste-Free Lunches
Schools are discovering the benefits of cutting down on the waste they produce, particularly in the lunchroom. In addition to monetary benefits, the schools are producing stewards of the Earth. Included: Simple ways to reduce waste in the lunchroom.
Walk-Throughs Are On the Move!
Principals use walk-through observations to engage teachers in conversations about student learning. Included: Principals share the benefits of walk-throughs; how to initiate walk-throughs with teachers who might fear frequent classroom visits by principals.
Community Evaluates Superintendent Online
Opening oneself up to an evaluation by the community takes some nerve, but Nashville's superintendent Dr. Pedro Garcia was up for it. The responses are leading to changes in how he communicates with the community. Included: The online evaluation form.
Before You Fly Off to That Conference Have You Thought of Everything?
A big conference can be the best experience of your professional life -- or a big waste of time! To help you out, our "Principal Files" team shared their experiences. Included: Tips to help you plan for -- and get the most out of -- the next conference you attend.
Homework Club "Memberships" Grow
Attendance at homework clubs soon could rival the turnout for more traditional afterschool offerings. The clubs give students the help and structure they need to complete assignments. Included: Tips for organizing a homework club in your school.
Using Data Rooms to Map Your Way to Success
Got data? Most administrators would say of course. The trick is to get it off the shelves and into the open. By setting up data rooms to display, track, and analyze information, administrators can make meaningful, measurable changes in their schools.
Promoting Respect and Service: Two Programs Get A+ for Impact
While students at one Connecticut elementary school learn the "ropes" of respect, middle schoolers in California are making community service part of the curriculum. Both schools received special awards for their programs. Included: Community service tips.
The Journey Back: Administrators Return to the Classroom
They have taken the path from the classroom to the principalship and beyond, then gone back because they realized the lure of teaching surpassed their desire to sit at the helm. Included: Advice for school leaders who are thinking about returning to the classroom.
Recess Before Lunch Can Mean Happier, Healthier Kids
Recess follows lunch almost as predictably as four follows three, because it always has been that way. Principals who have put recess first, though, have noticed children eat more and behave better after lunch. Included: Tips for making the transition.
Principals Review Teacher-Graded Student Written Work, Enhance Instruction
Principals can and should assess the quality of graded student work in their schools. Yvonne Bender offers straightforward, simple suggestions for accomplishing this kind of assessment, which can improve instruction.
Outreach Through the Airwaves: Schools Bring Message Home with Television
Some districts are using cable TV to reach out to their communities. These "education stations" keep citizens informed and show the lighter, "human" side of faculty and administration. Included: Successful programming from two districts.
Making Data Work for Your School
Most educators today probably would balk at the mention of more testing, but when results from interim assessments are used to tweak the curriculum and applied to individual learning, schools often see gains.
The ABC List: A Public Relations Tool That's as Simple as A-B-C
Have you been looking for a quick and easy way to promote your school's finest qualities and its best ways for the community to get involved? South Carolina principal Ann Mohr has a great idea for you, and it all begins with the alphabet!
Rubrics Help Improve School-Wide Behavior
Teachers have seen the value in using rubrics to assess student work and behavior. Now some principals are using them as a tool for monitoring and modifying behavior on a school-wide basis. Included: Examples of behavior rubrics.
Boosting Test Scores: "Principal" Strategies That Work
Raising test scores is a goal at the top of all principals' lists. It's a task that requires focus and a multi-pronged approach. In this article, Ed World's "Principal Files" team shares strategies that have helped them boost sagging scores -- strategies that could work for you too.
Bag It: A Professional Development Activity That Works
Looking for a great staff meeting idea? One that is totally practical and fun? The "Brown Bag It" activity gives all members of your staff an opportunity to play the role of professional developer for an hour. Included: Step-by-step activity instructions.
Twenty-Five Activities for Building Student Character, School "Community"
In an already packed school day, finding time for character education can be a challenge. Most of these 25 activity ideas can be worked seamlessly into the school day to build student character and to develop a sense of community in your school.
Principals Share "Best Meetings of the Year"
It takes only one waste-of-time meeting to give all staff meetings a bad name. That's why we asked our "Principal Files" team to share a meeting that went exceptionally well. You're sure to find ideas here to help you pump up the value of meetings in your school.
"Survivor" Fosters Community Through Friendly Competition
Schools are capitalizing on the popularity of the TV program Survivor by establishing their own competitions to promote community spirit and teamwork. Should your school host a sequel to "Survivor"? Included: Ideas for starting your own program.
Morning Sing: School's Weekly Tradition Is Music to the Ears
What has "risk takers" performing on stage, teachers reading and singing to the entire school, and students still talking about events from elementary school years later? It's Lake Street School's "Morning Sing," a weekly event that brings together the entire school.
PR Ideas for PRincipals
Is it any coincidence that the word principal begins with the letters PR? Many principals overlook the importance of strong public relations, but these principals recognize the important role PR can play in creating a "buzz" about their schools.
School Stores Teach Lifelong Skills
This "local shop" can stock merchandise ranging from pencils to tasty snacks, and sell its wares to students, teachers, principals and even the occasional visitor. A school store, however, is more than a "convenience store;" its shelves also are stocked with the materials for building academic and lifelong learning skills.
Making Retention A Last Resort
Too often, educators find themselves choosing between social promotion and retention, when neither benefits children. Some districts have found that intensive intervention in the early grades can eliminate the choice between two unappealing options.
Celebrating Students: Schools Recognize Achievement in Many Ways
When we asked our Principal Files team to share the ways in which their schools celebrate students' accomplishments, we had no idea how many and varied the responses would be. Included: Practical ideas, food-for-thought for all school leaders.
What Will Your School's Next Report Card Look Like?
Report cards are yet another area of education affected by the standards movement. With more things to teach, assess, and track, teachers need more precise ways of assessing students than A to F.
Principals Collaborate, Bring About School Change
After years of working in isolation, a group of Milwaukee principals decided to collaborate rather than compete. Principals create yearlong themes, share problems and strategies, and advocate for all students. Included: Descriptions of the group's programs.
Party! A Year of Special School Events
Getting parents involved is no easy task. But Education World's "Principal Files" team offers some great ideas for school-wide events that are sure to draw parents in large numbers. Included: More than 30 events to add to your school calendar!
School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools
of All Sizes
Schools and businesses are working together to benefit students, teachers, and entire communities. Successful partnerships can be found across the grades, in schools large and small. Included: Ideas, tips for successful school-business partnerships.
A Smooth Transition Can Mean a Smooth Year
With researchers finding that successful transition programs can mean more successful students, sending and receiving schools are working harder and more cooperatively to help students more easily make the passage from one school to the next.
What Would Dad Say About Education Today?
Father's Day is just around the corner. With that in mind, principal Paul Young considers what his did might think about the state of education today. Down-home stories and common sense prevail in this principal's touching tribute to his dad.
Power Napping Refuels Weary Students
With school starting at 7:30 a.m., extracurricular activities stretching past 8 p.m., and jobs and volunteer work as well, sleep often falls to the bottom of the adolescent priority list. An after school Power Napping Club gives teens a chance to just relax.
Principals Caught Up in FISH! Philosophy
Long popular in the business world, the FISH! philosophy developed by ChartHouse Learning is rapidly fans in education circles as well. Employing FISH!'s four guidelines in their schools has brought spark back to working and learning, principals said.
Motivating Teachers to Use Technology
Dr. Walter Tobin, interim superintendent of the Calhoun County, South Carolina, Public Schools, talks about ways of motivating teachers to use technology in the classroom more extensively and efficiently.
Md. Asst. Principal is ASCDs First Outstanding Young Educator
Barely ten years into an education career, Patrick J. Bathras has gone from the classroom to the assistant principals office to the national spotlight as ASCDs first Outstanding Young Educator of the Year. Bathras recently sat for an Ed World e-interview.
25 Ways to Motivate Teachers
What special things do principals do to inspire teachers to keep on learning and improving? What do they do to make their schools fun places to work? Included: Principals share more than two dozen practical ideas for motivating teachers!
Data Is Making a Difference in These Schools
Many schools are using collected data to drive change. Test scores are analyzed and used to lead curriculum improvement. Survey instruments provide feedback from students, staff, parents, and the community that lead to change too. And data can be used to group students and to assign teachers with proven skills to teach specific student groups. Those are just a few of the ways in which Education Worlds Principal Files principals are using data to lead their schools to success.
Success Stories: Principals Reflect on the Year's Achievements
Test scores aren't the only measure of success in today's schools. We asked our Principal Files team to reflect on the past year in their schools and to share with us the biggest achievements -- the "success stories" -- of the year. Their successes big and small offer food for thought for all school administrators as they plan ahead toward a new school year.
Logos Help Schools Define Missions
A chance question at the end of an informal meeting between two parents led to a unique project that rallied an entire school community. The result of that meeting was a design project that created a logo for Seattle's Beacon Hill Elementary School -- a logo that expresses the mission and spirit of the school, focuses classroom instruction, and unifies the community.
Principals Set Goals for New School Year
The school doors are open; the goals for the new school year are set. This week, Education World invited our "Principal Files" principals to share the goals they have set for the school year that just got underway. One restriction: Nobody was allowed to say "raise test scores" because that goal is a given! The goals those principals shared are as varied as the schools they represent. Learn what principals had to say in this article, which stands as a lesson in Goal Setting 101.
Parents Tune In to School Radio
Talk to administrators about critical goals and you'll find communications with parents high on their list. But what's the best way to reach parents? Often important notices given to middle or high school students never get home to parents, who no longer make checking their children's backpacks a daily habit. SchoolCast FM helps schools solve the communications-with-parents problem. The small FM radio station provides everything a school needs to get daily messages on the air and requires no FCC license.
Mission Statements With Vision: Where Is Your School Going?
What is your school's mission? If you have to search through your handbook or you can't recall the entire lengthy statement, you probably aren't making the most of your school's mantra! How can you make your mission statement more meaningful? Bring it into the classroom and give it vision!
Turning Points 2000: A Blueprint For Middle Grades Education Reform
A new report by the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans advises that groups need to work together to help Hispanic students close the achievement gap with students of other ethnic groups. Included: Descriptions of programs that are working and ways in which parents, schools, communities, businesses, and the government can come together to help Hispanic students achieve.
Collaboration Needed to Improve Hispanics' Education
A new report by the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans advises that groups need to work together to help Hispanic students close the achievement gap with students of other ethnic groups. Included: Descriptions of programs that are working and ways in which parents, schools, communities, businesses, and the government can come together to help Hispanic students achieve.
Report Cards: Do They Make the Grade?
Is the traditional A-B-C-D-F report card meeting the grade? Is a skills checklist a better way to go in this age of standards and accountability? Does a narrative report card help settle debate over what letter grades actually mean? This week, Education World explores the pluses and minuses of a variety of report card formats.
Home-Grown Students: Program Bridges Gap Between School and Home
Researchers have found that what parents do with children in the home has a critical impact on what teachers are able to achieve in the classroom. To help build communication between home and school, a program in Sacramento, California, trains teachers in the art of home visitation.
States Step Up Efforts to Reduce School Segregation
In response to a state Supreme Court ruling that children in Hartfords urban schools were receiving an inferior and unequal education, Connecticut stepped up efforts to improve the education of urban schools. This week, Education World takes a look at what Connecticut is doing to combat educational inequality. Included: A brief summary of the Harvard University The Civil Rights Project, which looks at the resegregation in U.S. schools.
AN EDUCATION WORLD E-INTERVIEW Principal-in-Residence Speaks Out on Key Issues
Preventing violence in schools, involving parents in education, and finding strength in diversity --- in an e-interview with Education World, Carole Kennedy, the new principal-in-residence at the Department of Education, touches on those issues and more! She suggests solutions to problems that plague educators and articulates insights into the essential role principals play in schools.
Quality Education a 'New Civil Right,' Says Riley in State of Education Address
Calling a quality education for every child a "new civil right for the 21st century," U.S. education secretary Richard W. Riley presented his seventh annual State of American Education address February 22 at Southern High School in Durham, North Carolina. Here Education World presents the text of that speech.
Goals 2000: How Are We Doing?
So how much progress have U.S. schools made toward the eight goals established by the National Education Goals Panel? Education World takes a look at the progress the nation's schools have made toward each goal. Then we focus on success stories in three states: Learn how Maryland has increased the percentage of high school graduates, how Oklahoma has increased the number of appropriately credentialed teachers in its schools, and how Georgia has increased the percentage of high school graduates who move immediately on to postsecondary studies.
State of the Union: The Spotlight on Education
In his 1999 State of the Union, President Clinton proposed a five-point plan to improve America's public schools. The White House holds that these proposals mark a "sea-change" in national education policy -- "for the first time holding states and school districts accountable for progress and rewarding them for results." Clinton's goal is to encourage Congress to target federal dollars for programs that work, not those that do not.
Clinton Challenges Nation to Improve Math and Science Education
On March 16, President Clinton President challenged public officials, business leaders, universities, schools, teachers, parents, and students to take the steps necessary to boost student achievement in math and science. Included: The text of his speech.
Secretary Riley's "State of American Education" Speech
Provided here is the full text of Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley's speech delivered February 17, 1998, in Seattle.
Included: An index of highlights.
Clinton's State of the (Education) Union Address
Read excerpts related to Education from the President's 6th annual State of the Union Address (January 27, 1998).
A Primer: The Seven Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education
President Clinton called for national testing in his State of the Union Address. Discussion about national testing has recently been front-page news -- but testing is only part of the story.
How Are We Doing at Meeting Our Goals?
A Gallup poll, conducted for Phi Delta Kappa, indicates broad support for America's education goals.