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Principal Ideas: Appreciation, Special Guests, 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.

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.

Teacher Swap

One especially good staff meeting took place last year. That day, teachers participated in a "Teacher Swap." The Teacher Swap happened on a midweek midwinter day. I encouraged teachers to swap with another teacher -- preferably two levels above or below -- and spend the morning teaching that grade. On the appointed day, teachers went to their new classes and performed the duties and taught the classes of their colleagues. At the end of the day, we had a faculty meeting. Teachers broke into small groups and shared their experiences. Most revealing was the renewed appreciation among participants for the hard work and uniqueness of the demands of another grade level. The 'grass is always greener' adage was quickly dispelled by this experience. Some teachers even became excited about considering the possibility of trying another grade in a year or two. Others were more convinced than ever that they love the age they currently teach. It was an enthusiastic afternoon of wonderful sharing, support, and appreciation for work that colleagues do on a regular basis. Due to popular demand, the Teacher Swap will become an annual event. Next year I might encourage teachers to swap in the opposite direction from which they moved this year. At some time we might even try a similar experiment with the middle or high school teachers who are fed students from our school.
Source: Tim Messick, Principals Share "Best Meetings of the Year ( - August 10, 2004)

Morning Announcements "Guest of the Day"

At our school, morning announcements follow a pretty standard format. The student-anchors announce school-wide events, famous-people birthdays, the lunch menu, and the weather report. After the formalities are out of the way, the anchor introduces a special "Guest of the Day." On Monday and Thursday, that special guest is the school's assistant principal. Her twice-a-week talks revolve around one of our biggest thrusts, our reading curriculum. She also draws names for prizes awarded as part of our Reading Counts program. Wednesday's guest is our school nurse, who offers health tidbits for students. On Tuesdays and Fridays, I present "Mr. Davis's Math Question." The first person in each class to correctly solve the math problem races down to the office to receive his or her special 'Mr. Davis pencil.' Of course, I give teachers the answers in advance!
Source: Larry Davis, Good Morning! -- A.M. Announcements Build School Community ( - April 14, 2004)

Grow New Uses for Phone Trees

In order to gain parent participation, we really make use of the phone trees we set up for communicating. Parents remind other parents of meeting times and special events. Those reminders in the form of a phone call from a fellow parent can help motivate parents who are reluctant to participate. We also have parents serve as tour guides to parents who are new to the school and the area; they welcome new students to our campus.
Source: "Principals Share Parent Involvement ideas ( -- February 28, 2000)

Serve Up Two Shakes at Graduation

As students come up to receive their graduation recognition, have the principal of the school shake their hand at one end of the stage. At the other end of the stage, the principal of the school the students will next attend will shake each student's hand. At the end of the ceremony, have students walk down an aisle lined with students from the school they will be attending next. Those students will cheer, give high-fives, and otherwise congratulate the incoming underclass.
Source: "Make Graduation Day a Special Day Across the Grades" ( -- May 13, 2003)


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