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Principal Ideas:
Education on Task

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.

Pointers from

Education World columnist George Pawlas is author of The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, which contains hundreds of great principal ideas -- like this one that Pawlas shared with us:

Do you get all the mileage you can out of your school marquee? (Not to worry! If your school doesn't have a marquee out front, perhaps a local business will let you "borrow" space on one side of their marquee. You only need one side for people to see your message.) Use your marquee space to announce
  • special performances and events.
  • student achievements and awards.
  • test-result success.

    Or maybe your school has a special need. One day I passed a school marquee that announced "WE NEED TENNIS BALLS." Turns out they were collecting tennis balls to put on the bottom of the legs of students' desk chairs so the chairs would glide quietly across floors. I'm not sure how well that marquee worked out for them, but it was a great way to get out the message!

    Be sure to see George Pawlas's monthly Ed World column, Pawlas on PR for PRincipals. Click here to learn more about his book, The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, or to purchase a copy.

Group of the Month

I dedicate each month of the school year to a specific grade-level team or to another staff group within our school -- our cafeteria workers, custodians, or secretarial staff, for example. The group being honored that month is announced on our school's news show, and in each of that month's weekly bulletins I include special announcements about things the individuals in the group have said or done to make our school a better place. For example,

  • "Thanks for Mrs. Valentine's efforts in coordinating our McDonalds nights."
  • "Mrs. Gregorys class sang a great song about Red Ribbon Week. Thank you for sharing." (I would also spotlight the class singing that song during our morning news show.)
  • "Mrs. Stinson, thank you for overseeing our United Way drive."
  • "Ive been noticing the great job our instructional assistants are doing with reading workshops. Good job, Mrs. Hinkle and Mrs. Walker!"

Other staff members are encouraged to write notes to the group being spotlighted that month, to provide a specials snacks at some point in the month, or to do other special things for the group. Some teams or individuals even make homemade goodies. As principal, I make a homemade lunch for the group on the last school day of their month.
Thanks to Michelle Hart, interim principal at Helmwood Heights Elementary School in Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Keeping Kids on Track

We go the extra mile to make sure that parents are informed about students' classroom work and projects. When a student works on a long-term project outside the classroom, the teacher sends the student's parent or guardian a contract that details the project and its important deadlines. When students have trouble completing class work or schoolwork, parents and teachers work closely together to track that work in a student logbook. Teachers and parents initial the log on a daily basis. That way, parents know what students have been assigned and are afforded the opportunity to follow up on their child's work.
Source: Marie Kostick, "Principals Share Parent Involvement ideas " ( -- February 28, 2000)

Teacher Olympics

We held an "Educational Olympics" at school one year. Teachers were divided into teams and competed in a variety of events. All events required that team members support each other to complete a task. Events, planned with the support of the physical education staff, were both athletic (for example, relay events and a team table tennis match in which team members had to alternate hits) and non-athletic (such as going through a maze blindfolded).
Source: Phil Shaman, "25 Ways to Motivate Teachers" ( -- November 19, 2002)


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
- Welcome Students Back to School
- Motivate Teachers
- Involve Parents
- Raise Money
- Plan a Special Event
- Make Graduation Day Special
- Liven Up Your A.M. Announcements
- 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 [email protected].

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!

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