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Principal Ideas: Encouraging a Positive Environment

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!

Teacher's Room Question of the Month

To help staff get to know each other better, I ask a question every month. I write the question on a large dry-erase board that is located in the faculty lounge. (I have sectioned off part of the dry-erase board to accomodate this activity.) Faculty members are free to record their answers to the monthly question. Staff enjoy writing a response and reading the responses of their collegues. Examples of questions include

  • What are you looking forward to this year?
  • What is the funniest thing a student has ever said to you?
  • What was your most embarassing moment in elementary school?

On faculty-meeting days I cover up the responses to the monthly question. I choose one of the teacher's responses to share and ask the staff "Who said...?" The teacher who correctly identifies the staff member who gave that response wins a prize. In addition, the staff member whose response was chosen also wins.
Thanks to Fran Eggleston, principal at McDole Elementary School in Montgomery, Illinois

Seeing STARS for Good Behavior

If a teacher is looking for a way to improve classroom discipline, you might suggest this teacher-tested idea. It's a program called STARS -- Students That Are Really Serious. Every time a teacher catches a student doing something positive, he or she gets a star for their chart. Stars are given for being on task, turning in homework, participating in class, helping out the teacher, and so on. When students earn a specific number of stars, they are able to choose from rewards such as a homework pass, sitting in the beanbag chair during class, listening to music as they work, a class period in the library for independent study, or a food item (candy or chips) With the STAR program, the teacher reports, students even remind each other to have correct behavior now.
Source: Ellen McClurg, WANTED: Rewards, Rewards, and More Rewards!)

Conference Chrysanthemums

Purchase fresh flowers for teachers' desks during parent-teacher conference week.
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Welcoming New Students

We conduct a new-student orientation during the weeks before school starts. This event is a huge success. We send out flyers a couple weeks before the event, which provides parents an opportunity to purchase school uniforms and supplies and to become familiar with our school's expectations. We discuss first-day procedures, lockers, physical education clothing, attendance, and general school rules. In addition, the athletics department gives an overview of their activities and how students can participate in them; guidance gives an overview of its program; Student Council members welcome new arrivals; cheerleaders perform for the crowd and get them excited about football season; and the parent organization (PTSA) welcomes new parents and recruits parents for upcoming events.
Source: Marie Kostick, "Schools Find Many Ways to Say 'Welcome Back'" ( -- August 19, 2003)

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