Search form


Principal Ideas: Incentives, Appreciation, and More

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!

Staff Member of the Month

All staff members are eligible for this award. Staff members submit their nominations on a special form created for this purpose. Each month, I choose one nominee and announce the winner at our monthly faculty meeting and on the P.A. The winner gets a letter from me about the announcement and dinner for two at Applebee's. A copy of the letter and the nomination form are included in the employee's file.
Thanks to Dr. Linda Madison, principal at Joyce Kilmer School in Milltown, New Jersey

Quarterly Incentive for Students

Our school is a high-poverty school. All of our students are Native American. To encourage attendance and good behavior, we offer special incentive events every quarter. That event might be a night of bowling, swimming, sledding The event is open to all students who have not been absent more than two (2) days in the 9-week quarter and who had no mid- or major write-ups during that time. Thanks to Michael Sorlie, principal at Cannon Ball Elementary School in Cannon Ball, North Dakota

Bring Your Fathers to School

Getting fathers involved in school can be a challenge. Some things that can be done to improve participation by fathers include

  • schedule weekend events and ask fathers to help plan and implement those events.
  • recruit a "dad rep" to attend, and report on, district or school board meetings.
  • declare a "Fathers in School Day."
  • display hallway bulletin boards that provide information about fathers, supply resources for them, and promote healthy images of fathers and children.
  • ask fathers to share their jobs, favorite hobbies, or special talents with students.
  • plan a Family Unit Night (FUN).

Source: Bring Your Fathers to School

Caught in the Act

Whenever you are able, send a personally written -- preferably, handwritten -- note of thanks or appreciation to teachers "caught" caring or pulling off a terrific classroom project. Send at least a dozen of those notes each week. Keep a copy for the teacher's file; later in the school year you will be able to draw on those positive moments as you compose teachers' evaluations.
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Seashells as a Metaphor for Students

I copied a poem called Seashell on special "ocean" paper and glued a little seashell to the bottom of each sheet. My message to teachers was that the shell represented a gift to help them reflect on another gift they were about to receive -- their students. The poem reads, in part

Maybe your shell is fragile, delicate, and easily broken. So are your students. Handle them kindly and with care.

Maybe your shell looks beautiful. Each student in your class has a special beauty. Discover it and help others to notice it and appreciate it...

After sharing the poem, a great dialogue took place about how we work together to meet the needs of all students.
Source: Karen Linden, Principals Search for Words to Rally the Troops

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