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Principal Ideas: Using Parent Volunteers and Fab Friday!

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!

Parents as Teachers

The school counselor had persuaded the community to provide the McGruff anti-drug and anti-crime materials and puppets for each classroom. As the year went on, the counselor realized that many teachers were not planning to use the curriculum as it was meant to be used; it was "one more thing to do" and teachers didn't have the time. So the counselor asked for parent volunteers and trained them to teach the curriculum. Other schools have since adopted the idea.
Source: Principals Share Parent Involvement Ideas

Fab Friday Fun

During my first years as principal of Freeport (Maine) Middle School, I found that scheduling the school's daily activity periods just wasn't working. That's when we introduced Fab Friday. On Fab Friday, students might be taken to an art museum, to the kitchen for baking bread, or out on the slopes for snow tubing. Students can choose two half-day activities or one full-day event. Physical activities such as biking, bowling, and tubing are among the most popular. Those are all opportunities for kids and teachers to interact outside their cerebral hemispheres. Fab Friday requires a lot of pre-planning. People who don't understand the concept might think it's a waste of time or that we do it every Friday. Believe me, three times a year is plenty! During those three Fridays, students and teachers share enriching recreational experiences and experience one another as people outside their everyday school roles. One young man who was in my office a lot for being disruptive signed up for my Fab Friday kayaking class. He became a leader outside the classroom. His self-esteem came from showing other students how to get into a kayak or what to do if they got wet and from checking to make sure everyone was keeping up. At the end of the day he came over to me and said, "Mr. Toy, you really are OK." He responded to me as a person and not the principal, and after that Fab Friday his visits to my office for getting into trouble dropped 80 percent.
Source: Chris Toy, Fab Friday: Fun and Games That Make a Difference

Recognition (T)Issue

Put attractive pop-up tissue boxes in teachers' mailboxes just before the opening day of school and two or three other times during the year.
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Getting Fathers Involved

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

  • invite fathers to join their children for lunch.
  • ask fathers to lend their special skills to special events, such as building sets or props for a school play, playing a musical instrument with the school band, or baking for the annual bake sale.
  • recruit fathers to serve as "security dads" at school-sponsored events.
  • invite immigrant fathers to teach brief units on their native cultures and languages.
  • challenge teachers to create projects that involve fathers. For example, a teacher might assign an autobiographical writing project in which students are encouraged to explore their family history, traditions, and so on with their fathers.
  • host a "Bring Your Dad to School Day."

Source: Bring Your Fathers to School

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