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It's back-to-school time for administrators, too


Education World has gathered great resources from our archive that offer advice, tips, and resources all principals should have at their fingertips. Included: Fund-raising ideas, recess success resources, parent involvement strategies, and much more.

We have divided the resources into five categories:

  • Preparing for the first day
  • Motivating teachers
  • Planning for professional development
  • Involving parents
  • Achieving technology success
  • Additional articles of interest

Browse through the headlines in each section below, and click for great resources that will reduce stress and improve school quality.

Preparing for the first day

Great starts: Veteran principals offer opening day tips
Are you a first-year principal? A veteran with many years under your belt? It doesn't matter! All principals will learn a thing or two from this article about making the first day of the new school year a smooth one for kids, parents, teachers, and you! Included: Tips for a great first day!

Schools find many ways to say "welcome back"
Will open house be before school opens or sometime after students arrive? How about holding an ice cream social? A scavenger hunt for new students? A meet-the-principal lunch? Included: Our "Principal Files" team shares many ideas for welcoming students.

Principal goes door to door with back-to-school message
Tired of low student turnouts on the first few days of school, Dr. Robert E. Morris, a Hartford, Connecticut, elementary school principal, decided to remind parents himself about the opening of school. Not just by letter, but in person. For the past three years, Morris has knocked on doors and stressing to students and their parents the importance of coming to school the first day.

Scavenger hunt: A fun way to introduce staff
Staff scavenger hunts are a fun way to kick off the year and help new and returning faculty members get better acquainted. Armed with a list of descriptions, staff members "hunt" for the person who matches each item on the list. Included: A list of 25 items for which to hunt.

"Survivor" fosters community through friendly competition
If you'd risk it all for the "Immunity Idol," you've already fallen for the primetime reality-TV show Survivor. Capitalizing on the popularity of that program, schools are establishing their own competitions to promote community spirit and teamwork, and organizers say these programs are working. Included: The challenges and rewards of Survivor programs. See also Back-to-School Survivor Day Offers Lessons About Quality Learning .

Principals caught up in FISH! philosophy
Long popular in the business world, the FISH! philosophy developed by ChartHouse Learning is rapidly gaining fans in education circles as well. Several principals told Education World that employing FISH!'s four guidelines in their schools has brought spark back to working and learning. Included: Tips on using FISH! to motivate staff.

High notes, hayrides, and hot dogs: Making open house a hit!
With so many parents and children leading very busy lives, schools need to do more than simply open their doors during open house activities; they need to draw families inside! How can you make open house hip and happening to improve attendance and parent-teacher cooperation?

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!

Veteran principals offer advice to new colleagues
Advice from our P-Files principals includes the following: Listen to your staff, from the kindergarten teacher to the custodian. Don't take teachers for granted. Don't forget the kids. And don't neglect your own family! Included: Timely and wise advice for first-year principals. Even experienced principals might learn a thing or two!

Mission statements with vision: Where is your school going?
What is your school's mission? How can you make your mission statement more meaningful? Bring it into the classroom and give it vision! Included: Tips for keeping the mission statement alive once it's written!

Principals search for words to rally the troops
Want to get the year off to a good start? Looking for the words to motivate your staff? Here are the messages a few of your colleagues plan to pass along to "the troops" at the start of the new school year!

Motivating teachers

Sixty-five ways to recognize teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week -- and all year long
Have you special plans for Teacher Appreciation Week? Are you searching for new ways to show your teachers how much you appreciate their efforts? Education World's "Principal Files" principals share some things they have done to show their appreciation. Included: Some of these 65 ways are sure to work for you!

Motivating teachers: a wire side chat with Todd Whitaker
Great principals understand that people, not programs, make the biggest difference. So what can you do to motivate great teaching? Todd Whitaker, author of Motivating and Inspiring Teachers, shares techniques -- including weekly memos, positive referrals, and parent contact -- that principals can use to keep teachers motivated.

Back-to-school Survivor Day offers lessons about quality learning
Educator Brenda Dyck recounts how her school's administrators used the Survivor TV show as a theme to strengthen teams, build camaraderie, present challenges -- and teach a few lessons about how to create a quality classroom environment for students. Included: Survivor activity ideas and teacher reactions.

Is your school's culture toxic or positive?
Dr. Kent D. Peterson, a professor in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, talked with Education World about the differences between positive and negative school cultures and how administrators and teachers can create a positive culture in their schools.

When all else fails, turn to the survival kit
Although the new school year may seem daunting on the first day, survival kits can help teachers and students feel welcome and inspire them to start the year on a positive note. Ingredients can include bandages, Life Savers, and pennies. Included: Ingredients for teacher and student survival kits.

50 signs your school is a great school
Let's focus on the good news in our schools. We invited our Principal Files principals to share the great things that are happening in their schools. Included: Great ideas all principals might consider!

Planning for professional development

Teacher training series

This 9-part series from Education World's Lorrie Jackson includes entries on Web Resources for Staff Development, Hosting Conferences at Your School, Staff Development Through Peer Mentoring, and more.

Retreat, review, recharge!
Retreats can be the perfect way to re-energize faculty, flesh out new programs, and help people get to know one another better. While getting away is a treat, some creative activities also can make an in-house retreat productive and fun.

Principal uses 'book talk' to engage teachers as learners
Leading the professional development of teachers is one of the greatest challenges school administrators face. Principal Jim Thompson launched a Book Talk program in his school. Thompson shares how he uses Book Talks to inspire teachers and to integrate continuous learning into his teachers' school day. Included: Tips for a successful Book Talk

Effective staff development: Teachers teaching teachers

If you're not capitalizing on the expertise of members of your school's teaching team, your staff is missing out on the most effective professional development around. It's professional development tailored to your school's culture and needs.

Advice for first-year teachers -- from the principals who hired them!
Most principals were teachers too. Once upon a time, they were even first-year teachers! Since becoming principals, they've had the opportunity to observe many first-year teachers -- and to see many of those teachers make many of the same mistakes. Included: Principals offer their best advice to this year's crop of new teachers.

A lesson for principals: Put instruction first
"Making time for a focus on instruction is very difficult," said Joy Hood, a coach with a principal leadership program in Denver. Education World recently interviewed participants in Denver's principal leadership program. Included: Principals and coaches share practical information and guidelines for instructional leadership mentoring.

Helping students find the 'write' way to behave
Having students write about their misbehavior, why it occurred, and what they are going to do to correct it is valuable for students and teachers. Students get a chance to have their say, and teachers can review the write-ups with students and keep the documents in students' files. Included: Tips for helping students write about their behavior.

Managing difficult people: Turning "negatives" into "positives"
Learning to recognize the characteristics of negative people and how to work with them can lessen their impact, and maybe even encourage an attitude shift. Education World uncovered several coping strategies that have helped administrators deal with chronic negativity. Included: Tips for handling the pessimists.

Teachers observing teachers: A professional development tool for every school
More schools are using observation -- teachers observing teachers -- as a form of professional development that improves teaching practices and student performance. Included: Experts share the benefits of learning by observing for the teacher, administrator, and school, plus five observation models.

Team teaching: Teaming teachers offer tips
Team teaching is a strategy used at many grade levels in many schools -- but how teams are structured and how well teaming actually works varies widely. Education World explores two essential questions -- What constitutes an excellent teaching team? and How can teachers strengthen their teams? Included: Practical tips for teaming teachers!

Great staff meetings: Pointers from the principals who lead them
Stuck for ideas for effective staff meetings? Looking for ways to make sure everybody is present and interested? Education World's "Principal Files" team has some ideas for you!

Involving parents

Student-Led conferences successful in elementary, middle grades
As student-led conferences grow in popularity, educators are finding ways to improve their flow and productivity. Preparing students and parents for what's involved and practicing before "going live" can help. Included: Descriptions of student-led conferences at different grade levels.

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!

More principals e-mailing parents
Police are at the school a snowstorm causes early dismissal a last-minute meeting is scheduled Instead of picking up the phone to call parents, more principals are tapping on their computer keyboards. Included: Tips for setting up and using e-mail to reach parents.

Family reading nights create avid readers
For administrators looking to increase student reading at school and at home and improve parent involvement -- which would be most administrators -- family reading nights have proven successful for many schools. Included: Suggestions for family reading night programming.

Home visits forge School, family links
Getting to better know students and their families can make parents powerful advocates in their children's education. Home visits can give teachers the insight they need to help all students succeed. Included: Descriptions of successful home visit programs.

Rounding up pre-K kids, parents
Inviting parents and pre-kindergartners to meet teachers and see their schools six months before school opens can noticeably reduce first-day jitters -- for everyone. Called kindergarten round-ups, these events also let teachers meet their incoming charges. Included: Tips for staging a kindergarten round-up.

Beyond the bake sale: A guide to phenomenal fund-raising
Jean C. Joachim's book Beyond the Bake Sale: The Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book is written as a guide for parents, but it also is a good manual for principals. Joachim provides step-by-step directions for planning and executing school fundraisers big and small. Included: Advice on launching and maintaining effective fund-raising efforts.

Parents on board: Persuading parents to join the team
Most administrators recognize the need to get parents involved in school activities, but often efforts to draw them into the educational equation yield disappointing results. Education World writer Cara Bafile tracked down some educators who have worked hard to win over parents. Included: Strategies for Parent Days, parent teams, more.

Making parents part of the "in"-volved crowd
Parents can be invaluable partners in their children's education, but many take themselves out of the equation because of mistrust, misunderstanding, the demands of work and home, or other factors. Learn how you can overcome those obstacles, get parents involved, and promote better home-school communication.

High notes, hayrides, and hot dogs: Making open house a hit
With so many parents and children leading very busy lives, schools need to do more than simply open their doors during open house activities; they need to draw families inside! How can you make open house hip and happening to improve attendance and parent-teacher cooperation? Included: Ideas to make open house enjoyable and effective.

School book club gets kids and adults involved
Beyond social activities and fund-raising: Parents at Northwood Elementary get involved in school academics by participating in a school book club that promotes fun and a love of reading. Included: Tips for starting a book club in your school plus resources that describe the benefits of reading./P>

Parents step into students' sneakers for a day
Here's one school's approach to increasing parents' involvement in their students' education: Send Mom and Dad back to school. Parents who spend a day walking in their children's footsteps at Central Middle School develop a new appreciation for the rigors of middle school, according to principal Tara Fair.

'The Parent Trap' -- Luring elusive parents to school
Overwhelmed by work and family needs, parents' "free time" is in high demand. So how can schools do more to encourage busy parents to get more involved in their children's school activities? Included: Ten online resources with information and advice to grow parent involvement in your school!

Open house: When first impressions matter
Good first impressions make a difference, and the first open house of the school year gives administrators and teachers a chance to gain parents' support. Included: Ideas to help make your open house a success!

Back-to-School letters and survival kits build communication
Many teachers and administrators have started introducing themselves to parents and students before school starts, or right at the opening bell. Some have even started providing "survival kits," to help students weather the first few days of school. Included: Examples of survival kits for students and teachers.

Increase parent involvement with first day of school activities
Read about how schools across the nation -- in urban, rural, and suburban areas -- are breaking down barriers with parents and their communities by making the first day of school an exciting holiday with special activities that include everyone.

Principals share parent involvement ideas
Education World asked a number of principals to tell us about ways their teachers involve parents in the classroom and the school. Dozens of ideas flooded our e-mailbox. Here we share some of those great ideas. Included: More than 30 practical ideas for including parents across the grades.

Parent- and community-involvement strategies that work
The research is clear: When parents and communities are involved in schools, education improves. From New York to California, from an individual student notebook to community-outreach programs, here are five approaches to parental and community involvement that work. Included: Links to dozens of online resources.

101 ways parents can help students achieve
101 Ways Parents Can Help Students Achieve, a booklet from the American Association of School Administrators, is a valuable tool for principals, teachers, and parents.

Beyond the bake sale: Parents can make the difference in countless ways
Everybody wins when parents volunteer! Kevin Walker, the founder of Project Appleseed, is helping schools involve parents. The organization has created a list of 37 different ways parents can help and is on its way to recruiting 5 million parent volunteers nationwide. Included: The Project Appleseed Parental Involvement Pledge.

Achieving technology success

Encouraging teacher technology use
Teacher surveys indicate that about half of U.S. teachers use technology in classroom instruction. That use, however, varies greatly from school to school. To find out why, we asked the Education World Tech Team how their schools encourage -- or discourage -- staff technology use. Included: Tips for encouraging staff technology use.

Traveling the techno trail: Training teachers to use technology
Computer resource specialist Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach believes that her most important responsibility is to empower teachers to use technology to educate young minds. Find out how she does it -- and learn how you can do it too! Included: A comprehensive plan for staff technology training.

Technology planning: Closing the communications gap
Technology can play an important role in helping educators track accountability and student progress, and yet technology is often underutilized in that role. Technology-planning expert Dixie Conner explains how effective planning by teachers and technology leaders working together can result in more effective technology use.

The state of technology: How does your school measure up?
Learn what the Education World Tech Team has to say about the state of technology in U.S. schools today. Included: Educational technology experts from six different states provide an insider's look at the wide range of technology support available in schools today.

Motivating teachers to use technology
Dr. Walter Tobin recently participated in a teleconference called Enhancing Education Through Technology, one of a series of teleconferences on the No Child Left Behind Act sponsored by Plato Learning. Included: Strategies for improving and teachers' technology literacy.

Technology integration made easy
Are you anxious to integrate technology into your curriculum? Education World offers 19 easy and painless ways to integrate technology into your daily routine. Included: Nineteen activities and nearly 50 Web sites to help you integrate technology into your daily routine.

Better students through technology!
Tech-planning expert Dixie Conner explains how technology can increase students' opportunities to reach -- and surpass -- today's stringent education standards. Included: Ten tips on using technology to maximize student achievement.

Golden nuggets: Seven tips for technology success
Dr. Bruce Whitehead designed and implemented a model for classroom technology centers that earned him the National Distinguished Principals Award from the NAESP. In this article, Whitehead shares "seven golden nuggets" -- seven tips to help ensure the success of your school's technology implementation plans.

Ensuring student privacy on the Internet
The Children's Internet Protection Act requires that school districts develop an Internet safety plan addressing the unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors. School districts need to consider a variety of issues as they attempt to comply with this safety plan requirement.

Electronic portfolios in the K-12 classroom
The electronic portfolio, already a well-established tool in higher education, is beginning to appear in K-12 classrooms as well. Learn what electronic portfolios are and discover how they can help you and benefit your students. Included: Guidelines for developing personal portfolios.

The administrator's role in technology integration
Teachers have often come under fire for their failure to fully integrate technology into their classrooms. Until recently, however, very little has been said about the role of school administrators in technology integration. The Ed World Tech Team discusses how principals and other administrators can optimize technology use in their schools.

Principals talk tech: How is technology integration going?
Are all your teachers aboard the tech integration express? Did a few miss the train? This week, the Education World "Principal Files" principals share their perspectives on how tech integration is going. For some, the obstacles loom large. Others are using special incentives to motivate teachers to join the technology team.

Technology standards for school leaders released
A consortium of more than a dozen groups released Technology Standards for School Administrators at a meeting of the National School Boards Association. "These standards will empower administrators to provide strong technology leadership," said the chairperson of the group charged with authoring those standards.

Additional articles of interest

Voice of Experience: A New Spin On Back-to-School Night
As educators re-examine the purpose, relevance, and appeal of Back-to-School Night, Brenda Dyck describes a new model where students take the lead and adults step back and follow. Included: Ideas for planning a student-led Back-to-School Night.

Principals Share Lessons Learned: Dealing With Student Discipline, Parent Involvement
Members of Education World's "Principal Files" team have turned mistakes they've made into valuable lessons they are willing to share with you. Included: Lessons learned about student discipline, involving parents, school "poli-tricks," and more.

Principals Share Lessons Learned: Staffing Decisions, Bringing About School Change
Members of Education World's "Principal Files" team have turned mistakes they've made into valuable lessons they are willing to share with you. Included: Lessons learned about staffing, bringing about change, and the importance of listening.

It's the Principal of the Thing!
Numerous studies confirm that nearly one third of new teachers leave the profession within five years. Why do they leave -- and why don't they stay? The reasons may surprise you.

"Story Bits" Strategy Works
Principal Addie Gaines latches on to any strategy that will make reading more meaningful for the K-4 students at Kirbyville (Missouri) Elementary School. Gaines takes a few minutes out of each staff meeting to model the strategy.

There's No Sub for a Good Sub Plan
Is there a substitute shortage or not? Do substitutes require special training? What if a teacher doesn't leave behind plans? Ed World's "Principal Files" team paints a picture of how school districts manage find, train, and retain substitutes. Included: Elements of a truly helpful "sub folder."

Recess: Necessity or Nicety?
The pressure for schools to improve student test scores is so intense that some are abandoning the childhood treasure of "recess" in lieu of more on-task time. Education World asked educators about recess practices at their schools and the importance of free time for kids to be kids. Included: Tips for a safe and productive recess period.

Playground Pass Creates Recess Success
Wouldn't you love a simple, straightforward teaching tool that steers students away from trouble and into recess success? The Playground Pass offers a system that classroom teachers and playground monitors can use to help kids make positive choices during free play. Included: Links to the reproducible Playground Pass system.

Fund-Raising Ideas: Raise Money Without Selling Door-to-Door
How far would you go to raise needed funds? Would you kiss a pig? Organize a game of cow chip bingo? Paint Pepsi on your school roof? As school budgets seem to buy less and less of what educators and parents believe students need, some school districts are discovering -- or creating -- new ways to raise money.

School Bus Discipline: Solving the Problem
Is school-bus discipline a problem in your school? Two school-bus discipline policies available on the Web might serve as effective models.

Sub Station: Tips and Resources for Substitute Teachers
Looking for a quick lesson that can be used anytime, anywhere? Need something to fill those ten minutes before the lunch bell? Want to add some games to your bag of tricks? We've got the resources you need in our Sub Station, a special resource for substitute teachers that every classroom teacher will love!

Solving the Substitute Shortage: Four Rules to Keep Your Best Subs Coming Back
Between kindergarten and high school graduation, on average, students will spend 187 days -- more than one full school year -- with substitute teachers. Learn what schools can do to guarantee the highest-quality education possible in the absence of the permanent classroom teacher. Included: Four rules to help keep your best subs coming.

What Do Principals Do?
Students at Orangewood Elementary School, in Phoenix, Arizona, share their unique perspectives on what their principal does! Included: Ideas for a fun activity that any principal could organize!

Everybody Wins! -- Lunch-Hour Reading Program Scores High With Kids and Volunteers
Teachers, kids, and volunteers agree: Everybody Wins!, a nonprofit foundation, is a success. The bottom line, according to a U.S. Department of Education study, is that children with reading mentors improve academically. Their classroom behavior improves too. Included: Learn more about Everybody Wins!

Baltimore Program Helps New Teachers Get Off to a Good Start
A program in Baltimore provides new teachers with important lessons on how to handle the first-year highs and lows -- and thrive! Included: Comments from Marsha Taylor, coordinator of the program, and from teachers who have participated in the program.

The School Day: It's Not a Race; Let's Change the Pace
Does the relentless pace of the school day frustrate you? Do you need to cram more and more into six hours? In his latest book, Time to Teach, Time to Learn, Chip Wood takes a serious look at the frenetic pace of teaching and learning. He offers dozens of suggestions for refocusing on what's really important during the school day.

Welcome to Idyllia: A Hypothetical Community Deals With School Test Scores
The release of test scores for schools in the hypothetical state of Idyllia has piqued the interest of almost everyone -- from school superintendents to realtors. How should school staff communicate news -- both good and bad -- about their scores? How should schools respond to the concerns of parents and the reaction of the media? Suggestions included.

Admirable Teaching Traits
Almost every educator would agree that teacher quality is the most important factor in determining school quality. But what factors determine teacher quality? In this article from Teaching for Excellence, you'll discover the traits administrators look for in their teachers. Included: Fifteen key characteristics of effective teachers.

Homework: A Place for Rousing Reform
Educator Brenda Dyck reflects on a year of shapeshifting -- a year in which she and her colleagues (begrudgingly, at first) came to a new understanding about the value and relevance of homework assignments.

How Do You Spell 'Stress Relief'?
With teachers under pressure to do more in the classroom all the time, stress can be inevitable. But stress can take a toll on a teacher's health and effectiveness as an educator. Several people who have conducted stress-reduction workshops recently shared their advice with Education World.

Principals Share Favorite Read-Aloud Books
Education World asked the Principal Files principals to share their favorite books to read aloud to students. The result is a list of books -- some popular and familiar, others obscure -- that should be on every principal's reading list! Included: A list of more than 20 principal-recommended titles!

Three Ways to Make Values Last at Your School
"Core values allow the school community to remain focused on what's important," says Marilynne Quarcoo, principal of the Cabot Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts. Education World guest editor Elaine L. Lindy documents the process and benefits of creating a set of core values at any school.


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