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Principal Ideas: It Takes a Village

Just think of Principal Ideas as a virtual show-and-tell for principals. Each week in the coming school year we'll present five new principal-tested ideas. Send in your idea today! See the sidebar to learn how to be part of Principal Ideas.

Join the Fun --
Share an Idea!

The ideas presented in this article come from the Education World archive and from principals just like you. Since these principals have been kind enough to "show and tell" an idea, now it's your turn! Share an idea you've used to
- Celebrate Students
- Plan a Special Event
- Welcome Students Back to School
- Make Graduation Day Special
- Liven Up Your A.M. Announcements
- Motivate Teachers
- Involve Parents
- Raise Money
- Plan an Effective Staff Meeting
- Get Some Good PR for Your School
or any other topic of interest to principals.

Send your idea today to principalideas@
Be sure to include your name, your school name, and your school address because if we post your idea in Principal Ideas, we'll send you an Education World mug!

Promote Positive Meetings

Instead of running the staff meeting yourself, why not turn a staff meeting (or two) over to your teachers? Let individuals or small groups of teachers host the meeting and lead the professional development session. In addition, invite staff to sign up to share inspirations, poems, and the like, and to offer kudos to their peers.
Thanks to Tammy Ashbeck, principal at West Park Elementary School in Hermiston, Oregon

Teacher-Talk Journal

We place a 3-ring binder in the teacher's lounge. When a teacher sees a colleague do something great for students, the school, parents, or anyone else, they are encouraged to write a short message of recognition. The principal reads those messages at faculty meetings. This has turned out to be a nice tool for teachers to use to motivate one another.
Thanks to JoAnn Crowell-Read, principal at Ecoff Elementary School in Chesterfield, Virginia

It Takes a Village

You've undoubtedly heard the African proverb about it taking an entire village to raise a child. In any school, that is surely the case. Recognizing and supporting the efforts of students and school workers -- including both teachers and support staff -- is key. The NEA offers a number of "tried-and-true" suggestions for accomplishing that end. They include

  • encouraging students to create thank-you cards for support staff.
  • providing ice cream for students and teachers, because "school is cool."
  • placing "Construction Zone" tags on all classroom doors to signify futures being built.
  • hosting a supper for teachers during parent-teacher conferences.
  • displaying photos of school staff in "real life," outside of school.
  • presenting teachers with notepads saying, "Our school is special because of you."

Source: Celebrate American Education Week by Building a Village

Cookie Coupons

Recognize special contributions by putting "Cookie Coupons" in teachers' mailboxes. Arrange with the cafeteria for teachers to redeem those coupons for a special treat!
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Inspiring the Teacher-Artist

In my opening day remarks to teachers, one of my messages is clear and simple: Education is about the kids -- caring for the kids. School needs to be a place where people care enough to never, never give up [on students]. Teachers need to know how incredibly important they are and they need to get up every day answering the call of opportunity, not responding to an alarm clock. Dick Richards, in his book Artful Work: Awakening Joy, Meaning, and Commitment in the Workplace, offers a powerful message that applies to any teacher, any student: "As the artist creates their work, the work creates the artist. We are poems in the making." No other profession seems more like art, to me, than teaching. For me, it has always been very important to be sure that teachers who work with me know how profound, complex, and influential their role is in the lives of children. Good teachers are artists who grow in dimension, as professionals, with every moment that they practice their magic.
Source: Lynda M. McCarty, Principals Search for Words to Rally the Troops

Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World