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Principal Ideas: Welcome Back, Surveys and Reward Ideas


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!

Back-to-School Ice Cream Social

Two days before the start of school, we hold a meet-the-teacher ice cream social on the front lawn of our school. Teachers have their rooms ready for this chance for students, parents, and teachers to meet face-to-face. Kids find their classrooms and even see their desks. "It's a very popular event," explained Haws. "It also helps keep curious and anxious kids and parents from dropping by at the school all during August. It gives teachers time to prepare their classrooms without the interruptions caused when kids and parents show up one by one."
Source: Lolli Haws, Schools Find Many Ways to Say "Welcome Back"

High Fives Reward Respectful Behavior

At the Golden Oaks Educational Center, an alternative high school in Kansas City, Missouri, the "High Five" program has been working for the past three years. Students receive paper dollars each time they do something caring, respectful, or responsible. They also receive "dollars" for doing an outstanding job on an assignment or project. Teachers sign each dollar and add a note about what the student did to earn it. Students can earn as many dollars in a month as they want. "When a student collects five dollars, they staple them together and drop them into a High Five bucket in my office," said assistant principal Chad Sutton. "At the end of each month, we hold a drawing. The student who wins the drawing takes our school resource officer and a staff member of their choice out to lunch at a local restaurant. The program has been extremely successful with our students, many of whom benefit from the continuous feedback and incentives. The program also means students make positive visits to the principals and that I get to pat more students on the back."
Source: Chad Sutton, Celebrating Students: Schools Recognize Achievement in Many Ways

School Climate Surveys

We conduct a school climate survey every year or two. I have developed my own questionnaire, which addresses all areas of the school from the physical plant to the friendliness of the office staff and includes questions about subjects offered, work done in classes, and other opportunities offered at the school.

Sample Climate Surveys

I use the data from those surveys to make changes, initiate new ideas, or sometimes to fight to keep things as they are.

Source: Gail Graham, Data Is Making a Difference in These Schools

Laugh Lines

Include a joke or two in each e-mail newsletter. (Education World's Joke of the Day and our Humor Newsletter are good sources of jokes that will be appropriate and meaningful to teachers.)
Source: "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week -- and All Year Long" ( -- April 22, 2003)

Don't Forget New Staff Members

I make a point of sending a special welcome letter to all new staff members. That mailing includes answers to commonly asked questions - What are the school colors? Is there a TV/VCR in my classroom? How do I make copies? How do I access e-mail at school? -- and tips about some of the most important things for them to consider before the first day of school.
Source: Patricia Green, "Schools Find Many Ways to Say 'Welcome Back'" ( -- August 19, 2003)

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