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There is no doubt that school educators are busy every minute of the day. Effective task management can be quite a challenge, especially when dealing with complex assignments or projects, each with its own specific requirements, deadlines, and deliverables. Thankfully, I geek out in organizational tools! I can't wait to share with you a few tools that will make your life so much easier. In the end, your every day tasks get less complicated and you are more efficient.


Do you have 250 tabs open on your computer's search engine?  If so, I bet you are often clicking through all of them to find the one you need.  I have a solution to help you quickly find the tab right away.  Recently, I switched to Microsoft Edge instead of Chrome.  Let me tell you why.  Edge allows me to create organized tabs and they don't disappear.  In Chrome, you can also create these tabs, but I can't seem to get them to stay.  Until Chrome figures out how to make groups stay, I will use Microsoft Edge for all my searches.  



When you click on one of the groups you have created, it opens up to see all the tabs.  When you click it again, it will condense and hide.  This keeps your tabs all clean and organized. 

The grouped tabs display the color in a line across the top and the group name is on the left side. From here, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • To collapse or expand all the tabs, click the group name or color indicator
  • To move all the tabs around as a group, click and drag the group name.
  • To move a tab into another group, drag and drop it to the other group.
  • To add a new blank tab or ungroup tabs, right-click the tab group’s name.


1. Open Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser
2. Click Group Tab 
3. Name your tab groups and customize colors
4.  Click and drag a tab group name or colored circle to move the groups


This great idea was shared by my good friend, Lauren.  She knew I would love this.  I have been using Calendly for the last few years.  I just switched to Boomerang.  Boomerang is a free add-on to gmail unless you want all of the features.  Honestly, I think Boomerang is way easier to use than Calendly.  The set up was simple.  

Boomerang is a one-click calendar scheduling system that integrates within your gmail.

Take a look at the bottom of my email signature.  The orange MEET button at the bottom allows you to schedule a meeting without emailing back and forth suggested times.  Time saver!


Boomerang is the #1 Gmail extension. It lets you schedule sending email, track if someone replies to an email, and set reminders on important messages.


Google has built-in agendas and meeting notes!  I have been creating agendas all year within my google drive.  Attendees get instant access to the agenda immediately after sending a calendar invitation to them.  



The agenda automatically adds the attendees from the calendar invite and the date.  


I hope you have enjoyed the items above and find that these tools save you time throughout the day.  I know these seems simple, but saving time on the simple tasks allow you to focus on the bigger ones.  Guarding your time and managing it well is crucial to your success.  It's not just about getting things done.  It's about avoiding burnout and having a sense of contentment and accomplishment at the end of each day.  

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Academic Showcase (Parent Open House Night)

I'm excited to share with you our district's Academic Showcase Night.  One of my best friends shared this idea with me a few years ago.  I was finally able to bring it to life in my own district.  

Academic Showcase Night

We started planning back in October for this event.  I formed a committee and shared this idea with the team, and they helped me bring this to life.  The committee helped me make it better than I had ever imagined.  We created a presentation to share with the rest of the staff to let them know about the event and how to be prepared for our big showcase night.  

An Academic Showcase is similar to an Open House.  But instead of parents going to classrooms, our event was held in our cafeteria and gym.  A1 Rent-All was hired to install the booths.  We rented the dividers and a few tables.  Our cafeteria has almost all round tables.  We designed our layout to fit the space of our existing tables.  By not having to rent tables, we were able to save funds.


We dismissed school at 1:00 pm to allow us to transform the space.  While teachers were in a short staff meeting or working in their rooms from 1:00-2:00, the team moved tables and chairs.  I had planned ahead and held a short meeting with the team prior to the night to discuss the layout and the job duties.  The teachers set up/decorated their booths, and we opened our doors to the public from 5:00-7:00.

Every teacher and subject area was represented in the two spaces.  Teachers had a booth similar to a tradeshow or convention.  They decorated their space and showcased their academic content area.  In the gym (connecting to the cafeteria), we had live performances from our physical education teachers, band, and theatre department. 

Behind the cafeteria, we served hot dogs from a food truck/grill on wheels.  Also, we had our Agricultural classes showcase their projects outside.  In addition, we were able to rent a STEAM bus from a neighboring school district.  

The meal was provided by local businesses which was such a help to us.  They grilled and served almost 500 hotdogs.  We purchased to-go bags and hotdog wrappers from Amazon.  Parents could grab their meal bag and have dinner on the go or attend the baseball game that was happening that same night.  


We had vinyl signs made for every booth which will be reused year after year.  They are very durable.  We used zip ties to tie them onto the booth.  Our regional education service center was able to create these for us.  We sent them a list of booth signs, and they were able to create these within a few days.


VistaPrint is another vendor that we used to create our welcome banner.  We did not put a date on these banners, so we can use them again next year.  


1.  Having this event in one space allowed parents to not just see one grade level or one teacher.  They could view all of the great things happening in every grade level.

2.  Our staff shared an appreciation for the other campuses or other teachers and could see all of the great things happening in another grade level or campus.

3.  Parents communicated they loved this new redesign because they were not traveling from school to school.  

4.  Typically, we have lower attendance from secondary parents at our Open House events.  We had more parents show up for middle and high school this year.  We hope to continue to see more secondary parents attend as we make this a tradition.

5.  It is important that we showcase the learning that is happening in our district.  We need to celebrate the accomplishment of our students, but also give the opportunity for teachers to share their classrooms with the community.  Our teachers work so hard, and I just loved seeing them share their passion with their parents.

Take a look at our video!

What do you think?  Any questions? Email me principalprinciples@gmail.com

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The School Leader Gift Guide

It's the time of the year where all the school leaders stress over how to show appreciation to your staff but not break the budget in the process.  From the secretaries, co-workers, cafeteria workers, and teachers, it is easy to become overwhelmed with anxiety.  

I have put together a few ideas that I hope you find helpful.  If you funds are limited, maybe consider purchasing one item just for the campus to enjoy all year long.  I have some suggestions for that too.  

If you are looking for a wide variety of ideas to spread the holiday cheer all through the month of December, check out this 12 Days of Christmas post.

[Disclosure: This document may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.]

If in a hurry, download the gift guide PDF here: https://bit.ly/principalprinciplesgiftguide





$20 and Up Specialty Gifts


Motivational and Inspirational Quote Print Dream Big Poster

Notes from Meetings That Should Have Been Emails

This Meeting Should Have Been an Email Black Mug

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Inspiring Leaders Spotlight: WIN Time

I have had the great pleasure of sharing WIN Time with you many,  many times.  However, I am excited about the opportunity to share with you amazing school leaders who believe in WIN Time.  These leaders know the importance of the system and see the results.  Help me welcome Crystal Mayes, Susan Hankins, and John Weaver to the platform today. 

I hope you enjoy their story.


Crystal Mayes, Elementary Principal (Texas)

How do you collect data?

Every three weeks our teachers give students common assessment on a spiral readiness TEKS that we focus on during Space Time (WIN). We will report out the results during PLC common planning and analyze student work. We hone in to make sure that our "meets" percentage is high before moving on to our next lowest score - student expectations. We ask the four essential Marzano questions for the new skills. We also use survey level assessments in Aimsweb curriculum-based assessments, and Interim exams.

How do you track data?

We created a Google sheet in which we track students growth and progress from test a test and look for the +10 from John Wink’s philosophy. It has a conditional formatting color-coded for students that might be falling behind. We also track each classrooms percentage of approaches, meets, and masters. The goal is to have the entire class grow +10 from the beginning of the year until the end of each category. Whichever Space Time spiral TEKS were focused on for 3 weeks (must be a readiness standard and highly tested) during then the teachers track the four question common assessment by item rigor of high, medium, and low to see if there are any gaps or strengths in different classrooms.

How do you group students using data?

The instructional coach and I try to homogeneously group students by their levels of masters, meets, and approaches.  We then have special population groups such as our homeless, RTI/MTSS, Dyslexic, and resource. Teachers who are strongest in particular areas or subjects are then selected to teach reading or math. English Language and RTI aides are also pushed into the classroom, so they can build relationships with students, help track tier paperwork, and assist the teacher for an additional small group.

Tell me all about your WIN Time implementation (struggles, how you started, your successes)

This will be our third year of implementation. One of the first struggles was to have buy-in for teachers to switch students around the grade level rather than keeping their homeroom. We then realized we needed  different instructional resources to use during this time. 

We also realize that we need very clear expectations of what this time looks like and what it does not look like. We had to make sure that our aides are provided resources for our conducting a small group as well as being trained on how to use the resources. We had to make this time a very sacred time, and we do not ever give it up except for party days.


Susan Hankins, Elementary Principal and Curriculum (Michigan)

How do you collect data?

We have a school information system called Illuminate.

How do you track data?

The School Improvement Team analyzes and tracks data. Teachers also meet weekly to track data at a classroom and grade level.

How do you group students using data?

Students are grouped by skill area. Students are progress monitored throughout a 6 week period and once they show mastery they move to a different group.

Tell me all about your WIN Time implementation (struggles, how you started, your successes

In 2016 I became principal at the elementary school where I taught. That year was spent learning my new role, working to strengthen relationships, and getting a feeling from things at an administrative level. After learning from my teachers and observing the needs of the building, we worked to create a strong, active School Improvement Team in the 2017-2018 school year.

This team consists of teachers from various levels, general and special education, and program directors. They are the incredible driving force behind our success. We spent this year really studying our data. We learned about our strengths and weaknesses and spent a lot of time talking about what we needed to drive change.

The 2018-2019 school year was spent building capacity and the need with the staff. Our current system had paraprofessionals at the helm of intervention. In the past, data wasn’t used to drive decision-making, and students were pulled out of class to receive their intervention. Scores were decent but stagnant, and our most intensive and gifted students weren’t growing as much as we would like. We spent a lot of time talking about how we could put our teachers with our students with the most intense needs. Then I came across Stephanie McConnell and her WIN Time implementation. I brought the idea to my School Improvement Team, and they ran with it.

We spent each of our meetings looking at data and planning for implementation. The first thing we had to do was create a master schedule. Something that this building never had. In that master schedule, we included 120 minutes for ELA, 90 minutes for math, 50 minutes for special, 20 minutes for lunch, 20 minutes for recess, and 45 minutes for WIN. As we were working on the master schedule, we began to build capacity with the staff. We walked teachers through a process of a needs assessment, so they say WIN as a need like we did. Asking teachers to take 30-45 minutes of their day every day for something new was a paradigm shift. However, the whole staff quickly became as excited about it as this team.

The summer prior to the 2018-2019 school year, the SIT spent looking at data, making groups for the teachers, and setting goals for the groups. We did this for them for the first round of WIN as we wanted to gradually release control as not to overwhelm the teachers. We continued to go slow to go fast.

Upon return, the teachers planned for the groups and their skills. They planned with paras. Paras worked with our students who were at grade level, we had an advanced program for those working above, and our teachers worked with our most intensive kids. We set the scene that WIN was the most important time of the day. Classes were not to be interrupted during this time, and we were taught the expectations of behavior. We monitored growth every six weeks and rearranged groups as needed. Teachers used their daily common planning time to plan for WIN and monitor growth. Teachers shared students based on need, and this really helped to build the team approach at grade levels that didn’t work together as closely as others.

We immediately started seeing changes in our scores. (I can provide the growth since starting WIN.) Students were focused and engaged in lessons that they needed. They loved being mixed with students from other classes and working with different teachers. WIN quickly became the best part of the students’ and teachers’ day.

Our biggest challenge was COVID. We had to change year two because students could no longer mix groups. However, we are thankful that we had a solid foundation going into year 2. We continue to see growth, monitor our students, and grow; however, we look forward to year 3, when hopefully we can begin mixing groups again.

WIN has changed our school for the better. I am grateful every day for having the opportunity to have this program for our students.

Links to articles about our school and WIN.



Check out the results prior to WIN and after WIN was implemented!


John Weaver, High School Assistant Principal (Florida)

How do you collect data?

Weekly; grades, progress monitoring via AP and PreAP classroom, Achieve 3k, Aleks, PBIS and MTSS data

How do you track data?

Weekly team meetings

How do you group students using data?

Special Ed with a case manager, AP with instructors, all teachers have access to the building, Multiple boot camps, and specific areas that need to be addressed on a daily basis

Tell me all about your WIN Time implementation (struggles, how you started, your successes

We’re entering the fourth year of our flex\win time. It has grown tremendously within this time as we are a school to two thousand students. Teachers move on a daily basis to support their needs. Students and parents can also request to move via our software.

We had an 88% reduction in parent-teacher conferences as Flex (WIN Time) supports rectifying academic and personal concerns. 

In regards to the credit recovery program, 50% of the enrollment now consists of underclassmen as the overall decrease in D and F grades has allowed seats to vacate in this area.

Further, the open credit recovery seats have become especially significant given the lack of progress our Digital learners accomplished last year, which has also significantly decreased our summer school

Yet, most importantly our 33% increase with regards to recruiting and retaining underrepresented students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses have been directly related to Flex.
Meaning, our aforementioned Equity initiative could never be accomplished without our Flex program. 

Further, as we enter our fourth year, classroom observations, as well as formative and summative assessments, reflect the overall increase in daily synthesis and evaluation in all subject areas as
Flex has now become a proactive need as opposed to reactive support.

John Weaver's Campus Presentation


We can definitely say we have many great things happening in these schools. These schools have proven their ability to make dramatic, lasting changes for their students. Behind every great school is a strong instructional leader who understands excellent instruction, problem solves, and works alongside their teachers to improve student outcomes. Their strategy is built on analyzing their school's performance, expanding great opportunities for their students, and creating new structures that demand the high-quality education they deserve.  

If you are doing amazing things and have created a WIN Time, I would love to give you a shoutout too.  Fill out the form and let's start a conversation.

Ready to learn more about how to implement WIN Time too? 

 Check out this post and download all of the WIN Time materials. 

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What is WIN Time

What is WIN Time? 

WIN Time stands for What I Need. 

WIN Time is a 45 minute period on Monday-Friday embedded in the Master Schedule for students to self-regulate and prioritize their learning. WIN Time acknowledges that students lead busy lives and navigate competing demands for their time in and outside of school. WIN Time provides students the opportunity to self-direct and engages in their own learning.

While some school-wide initiatives might occur during WIN Time, teachers will not be teaching the new course material. Teachers will be accessible to students for additional help and guidance on current and ongoing learning. As this is school instructional time, students are expected to be in the classroom or designated learning space for the entire WIN Time period.

WHAT are the benefits of WIN Time?

WIN Time provides students the opportunity to:
  • Complete assignments
  • Practice presentations
  • Study for tests & quizzes
  • Receive help from a teacher
  • Make progress on long-term assignments
  • Collaborate with classmates on group assignments
  • Reduce homework
  • Improve skills in a specific area
  • Engage in a personal passion project of interest

Our Mission:

To ensure that ALL students learn at grade level or higher.

HOW to start WIN Time?

WIN Time: Secondary and WIN Time Elementary are now available for download. You can edit them to brand to your district and add your campus information throughout. The guidebook and the PowerPoint allow you to communicate the system on your campus. These two pieces have been a big lifesaver.  When you put in a new system, communication is imperative. 

At my school, creating a guiding advisory team was important to me.  I wanted WIN Time to be successful, so I needed the teachers to help build it and create ownership over it.   The templates below will help you every step of the way.


Letting students lead goal setting is one way to foster student ownership and begin to create a learner-centered environment. Research shows that students who feel ownership of their learning are more likely to persevere in the face of challenges and take steps to proactively meet their goals. When students monitor their own progress, it means that they have set a goal and know how to measure where they are in the process of achieving it.

When students track their own progress on assessments using graphic displays, the gains are even higher. Students are never too young to begin tracking!


Looking for a better and easier way to implement your WIN Time program? Take WIN Time Software for a test drive! Visit www.wintime.education to view the demo videos and get started with a free demo school. #WINTime


If you already have a WIN Time set up on your campus, here is Program Implementation Evaluation toolkit that is used to determine the school's progress toward WIN implementation.  Your school can quickly identify the areas it should improve and the areas it should protect.  Section 2 of the guide helps to develop a process for implementation.  Following the essential questions, sample check in documents, and focus agendas for 30-60-90 day milestones are intended to help put action to implementation.

JOIN THE WIN TIME FACEBOOK GROUP if you are looking to collaborate more around creating a win on your campus!

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Student Data Trackers that Develop Ownership and Motivation

Empower your students in their learning, step back, and watch them thrive.

Student Data Trackers help students develop ownership, motivation, and a growth mindset. After all, how does a student know where they are and where they need to be unless we give them the tools to engage in their data.

Research confirms that educators in schools with a focus on learning promote a strong sense of self-efficacy in students. It also shows that one of the greatest factors of student motivation and engagement is data tracking.

WIN Time Student Success Tracker™ is a tool that will empower students in self-tracking, goal setting, and reflection.

DATA Success Trackers

1. Data Success Trackers help students self-analyze data and set growth goals. #embracelearningforall
2. Data Success Trackers help teachers select the appropriate resources, instruction, and assessments for each student.
3. Data Success Trackers are the perfect tool for student led conferences.
4. Data Success Trackers provide evidence of student learning. #focusonresults

About the Trackers

Each individual student has their own data tracker book. It comes printed to save you the time of copying and organizing all the pages. Since the books are bound just like a book or magazine, pages will not never be misplaced.  Printed on 8x11; 38 pages; book printed format

The goal is to have students take accountability for their mastery of the standards.

Student data folders are a wonderful way to keep students involved in their learning and to encourage them to be responsible for understanding their own strengths and weaknesses.

Students truly benefit from data tracking because they have a voice in their learning and can understand and work toward success. Parents also benefit from the use of this tool as well and become more engaged in their child's education as they hear their child share their goals and academic progress during student led conferences.

Data folders are more than just a collection of charts and graphs. They are perfect vehicles for students to truly own their learning.


The Student Success Trackers can be ordered on #Amazon.  They will be shipped to your doorsteps and ready to implement immediately.  


Order Here (Printed and Full-filled shipped directly to you)


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Create Engaging Graphics and Reports in Minutes

 Create stunning graphics to make your reports, slide deck, social media, and your dashboards come alive with real-time data.  

The process couldn't be any easier either.  Simply sign up for INFOGRAM and connect your data to begin building charts and graphs.  For me, I connected our Google Spreadsheet to it, and my charts will automatically auto-populate with the data.  As we update the Google Spreadsheet my charts will also update.  

Take a look.

1.  I started with Google Sheets which we update throughout the day.

2.  Within a few minutes of creating my account in INFOGRAM I had my first chart created.  You can brand all graphs, charts, and slide decks with your logo.  

3.  When the charts were complete, I added the infographic to our district's website.  You can simply do a link or embed the code.  (NOTE: If you need the data to automatically update, this requires the paid version.)  


Interactive charts and maps can add depth and intrigue to any article, presentation, or website. 

Simply publish your project, copy the HTML code provided, and paste it into the text editor of your CMS or the space provided by the tool you’re using. Here is how I shared my interactive charts online.


Slides is a place for creating, presenting and sharing slide decks – built perfectly for online interactivity. Begin by creating a new slide deck. Click to add an ‘iframe’ element from the editing menu. Then copy and paste Infogram’s fixed embed code into the box on the top left. Your Infogram chart will appear right in front of you.


We all know teaching maps, charts, and graphs is essential for all subjects.  Students struggle to interpret and accurately read charts across all subject areas.  Creating an account in INFOGRAM would allow teachers to create data for students to excel in this skill.  Infogram lets students and educators easily create charts, maps, and infographics for free. 

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