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Motivational Playlist for Your Next Presentation

The right songs can make all the difference in a presentation.  With that in mind, I have compiled a list of my favorite songs.  Just recently, Christine from The Pickled Principal and I, presented in Austin at the TEPSA Summer Conference.  We had such a blast.  This was our largest audience so far since we launched our new book, Morale Magic.  If you haven't heard about Morale Magic, it is an ebook with over 500 pages of morale-boosting activities for your campus.

The right music is essential for your events.  Since our session was to motivate and bring some spark to the day, we wanted our songs to reflect that mood.


Let me first share the best way to project the music.  It is the best device ever.  I purchased the Bose Portable Bluetooth Speaker several months ago.  It has been the best investment ever.  This little speaker amplified the entire ballroom.  The first ballroom seated 800 attendees.  The second ballroom seated around 500-600.  In the larger ballroom, the speaker filled the room with adequate sound.  When we wanted it louder, we sat the mic by the speaker.  However, 90% of the presentation was loud enough without using the mic with the speaker.  In the smaller room, the speaker alone was all we used.  It is that good!  The sound quality and volume can't be beat.    If you want to use this in your school for an event, I don't see why it wouldn't work.  We have even used the Bose speaker outside for car duty.  If you have a large event, like a school dance, two speakers can be paired together .  I have done that at my home as well.  Since it's a bluetooth speaker, I used all the music already downloaded on my phone and just played it from there.  Another suggestion: login to your iTunes account on your MacBook or iPad and play music directly from that device.  All you need to do is turn your bluetooth on so the speaker locates it.


I have a download sheet in case you want to print this to save for later.  FYI: I subscribe to Apple Music so I can download as much music as I want for around $10 a month.  With Apple Music, you can access millions of songs, curated radio and playlists, and music recommendations, all in the Apple Music app. You can also access your music across other devices, as long as you're signed in to Apple Music with the same Apple ID, and download music to listen to offline.

1.  Celebration - Kool & The Gang
2.  Build Me Up Buttercup- The Foundations
3.  Man in the Mirror- Michael Jackson
4.  Meant to Be- Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line
5.  Let's Get it Started - The Black Eyed Peas
6.  Bennie and the Jets- Elton John
7.  Walking on Sunshine- Katrina & The Waves
8.  Roar- Katy Perry
9.  Firework- Katy Perry
10.  Uptown Funk- Kidz Bop Kids 
11.  Call Me Maybe- Kidz Bop Kids
12.  Fight Song- Rachel Platten
13.  Shake It Off- Taylor Swift
14.  When We Stand Together- Nickelback
15.  Eye of the Tiger- Survivor
16.  I Gotta Feeling- The Black Eyed Peas
17.  Don't Stop Believin'- Journey
18.  Little Red Corvette- Prince
19.  Ain't No Mountain High Enough- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
20.  This is How We Do It- Montell Jordan
21.  I Got You- James Brown & The Famous Flames
22.  My House- Kidz Bop Kids
23.  Best Day of My Life- American Authors
24.  Never Gonna Let You Down- Colbie Caillat
25.  Whatever It Takes- Imagine Dragons
26.  The Champion- Carrie Underwood
27.  Best Days- Graham Colton
28.  Just the Way You Are- Bruno Mars
29.  Count On Me- Bruno Mars
30.  Walking on Sunshine- Katrina & The Waves
31.  No Excuses- Meghan Trainor
32.  Waiting on the World to Change- John Mayer
33.  Thunder- Kidz Bop Kids
35.  Happy- Kidz Bop Kids
36.  That's What I Like- Kidz Bop Kids
37.  Timber- Kidz Bop Kids
38.  The Greatest Show- Hugh Jackman (The Greatest Showman movie)
39.  Woman Up- Meghan Trainor
40.  Most People Are Good- Luke Bryan

*Kidz Bop Kids is used for appropriateness and audience sensitivity.  



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Morale Magic- Boost Your School Morale

If we could give you one thing that would improve your school in incredible ways, would
you be intrigued to know more? What if this this gift was easy to implement and all you needed to do was give it a try? What is this one thing, you ask? It is called a monthly morale booster.
Positive morale is a human need.  Everyone wants to feel fulfilled and recognized for the work that they do.  If we as leaders create that environment, build relationships and provide the supporting culture needed, the staff will take care of everything else.

Morale Magic has everything you need for the entire school year.  No more worrying about coming up with the ideas, creating it all on your computer, or finding the time to brainstorm.  We have done it all for you!


eBook by Stephanie McConnell and Christine Bedre
Morale Magic is authored by two school leaders. This is an ebook which includes over 500 pages of content. A digital copy is sent to you via email after purchase. Instant Access! Morale Magic includes both book content pages for pleasure reading and printables for each month. 

A look at each month:

Send Postcards Coffee and Conversations Paint and Plan New Teacher Staff Academy Birthday Luncheons  
August Scavenger Lights, Camera, Action Popsicles and Snow Cones Our Hopes Aloha Luncheon Clay Models-Qualities of a Great Teacher  
September Ice Cream Sandwich BAR Basket Head Teambuilding Know Your Why- activity Selfie- Did You Know Bulletin Board Social Media Mania- Jeans  
October Song that describes you Trunk or Treat School Wide Event PVC Activity (PVC Power) Red Ribbon Week Shout Out Graffiti Spirit Chain (Links of appreciation)  
November Hot Cider Bar Instant Pick-Me-Up (Reflection board - quote/thought for each day) Smore activity Popcorn treat  
 December Books and Blankets White Elephant Book and Blanket Service Project Shower Curtain Activity A Cup of Holiday Cheer Sunshine Box  
January #One Word Social Media Mania The Biggest Loser Challenge Super Bowl  
February Mardi Gras- Contest Fat Tuesday Staff Lunch Valentine’s Day Sec. Seminar Circle Puzzle Piece Activity - Teamwork Two by Ten  
March St. Patrick's Day Teacher Oscar Awards Ice Cream Staff Builder Beach Ball Activity  
April Spring Into the 60’s Flower Pot Decorated Contest (Earth Day) Milk and Cookie Bar Administrative Professionals Day Stress Awareness Month  
May Teacher Appr. Week (one per day) Cinco De Mayo (Sip and Salsa) Taco Tuesday Lemons into Lemonade (Serve lemonade) Attendance Awards  


I, Stephanie McConnell, serve as an elementary principal located in Northeast Texas. I started my journey as a school leader in 2005. I’m inspired to bring value to other school leaders through my love of leading and teaching. It has always been my aim to create a school culture and climate where students, teachers, and community members feel welcomed and a part of the school. In order to have a great school, it starts with me- the school leader. I believe in doing the work that I love. I hope to inspire you along the way.  
When I’m not at school, I am a blogger and content creator. I love sharing a day in the life of a principal on the blog, Principal Principles.  
Stephanie and her husband, Brent, have three children- Ashley, Aaron, and Allison. 
You can contact Stephanie at principalprinciples@gmail.com.

I, Christine Bedre, serve as an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction located in East Texas. In 2014 I began my educational leadership adventure. My passion is to assist the growth of newcomers in both teaching and leadership roles by developing best teaching practices, curricula choices, and data assessments to support authentic student learning. I hope you enjoy my vision and can use it as you create your dynamic school culture.  
In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my sweet family and watching my young children grow. Additionally, I like to share curriculum with other educators through my blog, The Pickled Principal.  
Christine and her husband, Brian, have two children - Buck and Brighton.  
You can contact Christine at pickledprincipal@gmail.com  

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Organizational Tools for Principals

Being a principal can be challenging, right?  However, having the right tools will help you meet those challenges and deadlines.  I like to think I am organized.  I'm sure I could do better from time to time.  I'm sure we all have a junk drawer or at least I hope I'm not the only one.  I haven't blogged in several months.  I am staying so busy with leading a school and family events.  Therefore, I thought today would be a great day to share some tips that I have found very helpful.


I know we live in the digital age, but let's not forget there are still things we must file and keep.  The tickler file is definitely back to the basics.  This system is like a calendar for your filing cabinet.  You have 43 folders- 31 numbered and 12 labeled with months.   Every morning, that day's folder is pulled out and the contents placed on to the desk.  For example, if I have a PLC meeting on April 18, I can keep any handouts behind April 18.

How this looks in the desk or filing cabinet:

Since tomorrow is April 18, you would see folder 18 at the front, followed by 6-31, then May through next March.  When I empty the folder, I'll place it at the back of the number folders, leaving the next day ready to be pulled out.


This helps you prep for the year.  It is a simple but effective system that works for planning events for the year.

I love these months and numbered files from Amazon.  They are very sturdy and will last many years.


My friend introduced me to Google Keep at the beginning of the year.  You know how when someone creates something so cool that you wish you were the genius behind it.  That is me with Google Keep.  If you are in love with sticky notes and all things digital, this is your win-win.  Google Keep will sync your notes to your Google Drive and other devices.  The image you see above is a screenshot of it on my phone.  However, I can just access Google Keep on my computer as well.  When I add something to either device, it will appear on the other devices.  I have several sticky notes in various colors depending on the topic.  Sounds cool, right?

How to access it on the computer:

1.  Click on the 9 dots in the right corner of your Google account.  
2.  It will open up a variety of items.
3.  Click on Google Keep (lightbulb)
4.  Begin creating.  It is easy!

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Student Data Folders: Making Learning Visible

If you haven’t started using student data folders, it is a tool I highly suggest. These folders are in the hands of the students. They’re tracking and monitoring their own data. Teachers debrief with students after checkpoints and have critical conversations about their growth. Students recognize areas of their own strengths and areas to improve. The folders are the used to transform small group instruction that is designed specifically for their needs.

Data is useless until it impacts the instruction.
If the idea of using data folders sparks your interest after reading this post, I highly recommend the book by John Hattie- Visible Learning for Teachers.


In reality, I'm sure you could use any forms of data you have- content-based assessments, weekly assessments, progress monitoring, or even state data.  The big ticket item is to locate data that is relevant to reach the goals or your desired outcome.  For me, we needed to make a focus on individual student needs and less whole group instruction.  We have access to a data management system called DMAC.  We use DMAC to generate all of our content-based assessment reports.  After each assessment, we have data at our fingertips in a matter of minutes.  

Here is an image of the reports I generate for each student.  Image provided by DMAC demo.

This data allows us to see the standards in which the student has mastered and the areas in need of assistance.  The reports are color-coded.  If printing in color is an issue for you, black and white copies will work too.  I had to forgo color as well.  


Student-friendly data is key.  Not all data is readable for students of elementary age.  The report shown above is very understandable.  Teachers meet with students either one-on-one or in a very small group.  The teacher helps the students understand how the read the chart.  Conversations begin to happen.  


Background: We are an elementary campus of PK-5.  The data folders are in place for grades 3-5.  However, this will be in place for K-2 as well for next year.  We are departmentalized in grades 3-5.  Small group instruction is built into the master schedule.  PLC meetings are every Wednesday for one hour.  Progress monitoring is scheduled every two weeks for students receiving intervention and remediation.  This is my first year in this school district (Not a new principal, but new to this district.)

  1. Locate the data for which you want to share with your students.
  2. Build a folder for each student.  We are only focusing on reading and math at this time.  I recommend starting small as well.  
  3. Talk to your teachers about this process.  Model how to have a student data conference, if needed.  
  4. Provide assistance in providing targeted interventions for students who have not mastered standards.
  5. Make groups that are flexible or more fluid-like.  This will allow teachers to pull students each day based on the standards that are below proficiency.  


Managing all the information and knowing what students all need was the biggest question and concern from my own staff.  I tried to make this easy as well.  DMAC will run a report and generate a list of students who are below proficiency in each standard.  This helps teachers pull students based on their needs.  I know they do not have time to analyze every folder and make their own list.  That is another wonderful part of DMAC.  Most data management systems will do this.  

Image provided by DMAC demo.  

Folder Organization: 

The folders will stay with the teachers and not in the desks, lockers, etc...  Since we are departmentalized and change classes, we decided to have one folder for the reading/ELA teacher and one folder for the math teacher.  Remember, we decided to begin small and work on reading and math at this time.  The file folders are the very inexpensive manilla office folders.  Next year, I plan on making this a school-wide goal as I have always done in my previous districts.  


 I gave my teachers half-day subs so they could use the time to look over the data and make plans for instruction.  This is a lot of information to hand to your teachers.  Be understanding of the time that this takes to do it right.  


Here are some resources that may assist you in getting started.  These data discussion cards have been a big help to me over the years.  

This data wall (digital version) is a great resource for teachers to group their students.  


I have a love with Google because we can easily keep up the data for the entire year with a spreadsheet.  We update the data every two weeks. The file is shared with the teachers and intervention staff.    While we are in PLC meetings, we pull up the data with our MacBooks and see the gains of each student.  If you are interested in this Google spreadsheet, click here to make a copy of my file.

FYI: I do not work or have any connections with DMAC.  It is just a data system that my district uses and is beneficial to us.  

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Morale Booster for New Year

Happy New Year to You! I hope you have a great 2018.

I'm excited to share this Make a Wish FREEBIE for January with you. First of all, I know how time-consuming and costly it can be to purchase something every single month. I try and provide low-cost goodies because I'm paying for a lot of these out of my own pocket. I know you are probably doing the same thing too.

We return to school on Monday, January 8th. My staff and I have yet to celebrate the new year together. I'm preparing for that day with this fun idea.

 We plan on sharing a wish for the new year using glitter.  Who doesn't love glitter?  These individual glitter packets from Michaels make this morale-boosting activity easy to prep.

I mean just look at these colorful glitter packets.   They were only $4 each.   To create this fun experience it will only cost me $12.  Like I said, I purchase most the morale-boosters out of my own pocket so $12 is a deal.

 How to Use:

1. Print the Make a Wish card.
2. Attach a glitter packet to the card.
3. Take time to go outside with your staff to make a wish. The staff can pour the glitter packet in the palm of their hands and blow to make a wish.  If they don't like the idea of glitter all on their hands, just sprinkle in the wind.  It's the same idea but a little less messy.
4. Snap a photo and share the fun! Tag me @principalprinciples

I taped the glitter packet on the back of the cards so it is easy to pass out as we go outside.
I found the Washi tape at Michaels too.

Thank you for following Principal Principles. See you in February! If you love the FREEBIE, give me a shout out by sharing your finished product on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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The 2018 Simplified Planner Review

The 2018 Weekly, Simplified Planner, Happy Stripe are now available!  With the new year, we could all use a new planner.  I was asked to review the 2018 Emily Ley Simplified Planner.  planner and give feedback.  First, let me say, I am immediately drawn to the beautiful designs. The color choices and simplistic design are absolutely amazing.  Each year, I have to admit is better and better.

Before I go any further in this review, this post contains my completely honest thoughts.  I only review products I believe in.

Images provided by Emily Ley

Academic Agenda, Daily or Weekly by Emily Ley
Let's talk price for a minute.  I know we could all get a planner at Staples, Target, and even our local Wal-mart for a lot cheaper.  But the quality of the Simplified Planner will make it well-worth the investment.  Trust me, there are a lot of planners out there.  I've tried many of them myself.  I'm notorious for buying one and then trading it for another.  But the Simplified Planner gets my attention every single time.

Emily Ley is the designer of the Simplified Planners.  She mentions on her website how much these are a labor of love.  She puts her heart and soul into creating these planners.  She wants them to be perfect for us.  Emily will tell you her brand is meant to inspire women of all ages to build joy and simplicity into their lives.  The collection of her planners are built on the simple and classic style using fresh and playful colors.  

I will share a little about the two formats that Emily offers in her planners.  Let's take a look at the features.

When it arrives, you will feel extra special.  It comes in a navy blue keepsake box!  I kid you not!  The planners come out only twice a year.  There is an August-July and a January-December version.  There is plenty of space for schedules, to-do, notes, and extra white space.  Oh, I almost forgot there is a pocket inside the front cover to keep all your loose notes tucked away.

7 x 9 inches (1.25 inches thick)
Thick, 70lb., pure white Mohawk Via paper
Space for schedule, to-do, notes and meals
One day per page + shared weekend pages
Full month views
Hourly schedule from 6am to 9pm
Monthly Simplicity Tips
Simple color throughout
Colorful stickers
Gold, sturdy wire-o binding
Hard cover with gold foil details
Protective gold corners
Navy interior
Pocket inside the front cover
Colorful, sturdy mylar tabs
Navy + gold keepsake box


6 x 8 inches (.75 inches thick)
Thick, 70lb., pure white Mohawk Via paper
Space for schedule, to-do, notes and meals
One week per two-page-spread
Full month views
36 notes pages in the back
Monthly Simplicity Tips
Simple color throughout
Colorful stickers
Lay-flat book binding
Hard cover with gold foil details
Protective gold corners
Navy interior
Pocket inside the front cover
Colorful, sturdy mylar tabs
Navy + gold keepsake box

If you love the planner, there are tons of accessories to match.  

Some of the links posted here are affiliate links.  There is no cost to you, but if you purchase, I receive some products or small commission.  For that, I am truly grateful.  Again, I only review products I truly believe in.  

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Motivational Teams: Students Helping Students

Do you have a group of students who you have tried practically everything under the sun to inspire, motivate, and get a handle on the discipline?  I have experienced this over the years too.  I really don't think it has anything to do with the students.  I believe there are years where things work and some years when it just doesn't.

This year, I have implemented something just about every month.  Not everything will work, and I've come to terms with that.   However, I want to share a teambuilding idea with you.  I'm starting to see some progress.  Let me preface this by saying this team approach is inspired by my district's athletic director.  I can't even begin to take credit for this fascinating idea.  

Before we begin, take a quick minute and watch this video that I've wanted to share with you for a few weeks.  If you follow me on social media, I shared a quote that has stuck with me for several weeks.

What if a student's behavior turned out to be their greatest gift in life?  - Principal Principles

 Just what if... What if the behaviors we try and change are the same behaviors we admire and encourage in adults.

Take a look at the video and be inspired.

A single moment in time can change a person's life.

The video and both quotes have both sparked my determination to look at discipline in a different way.  Here are a few of my beliefs so you also know my stance on discipline.

1.  I believe in supporting teachers by handling discipline.
2.  I believe in being proactive and setting procedures in place to prevent negative behaviors.
3.  I believe in positive behavior supports to encourage leadership in students, as well as, helping students to be more self-disciplined.


I have a very competitive group of students this year.  Therefore, I can see success on the horizon.  I am implementing this plan with the 5th graders on the campus.  As we all know, fifth and six grade can be a bit taxing for students, parents, and staff.  They are upper-classmen in elementary and entering junior high/middle school.


We divided the grade level into teams.  We ended up with 9 teams.  Each team has about 7 to 8 students.  How you divide it up would depend on your class numbers.  Teammates are from mixed classes since we are departmentalized in 5th.  I did this purposefully to instill a sense of family and an opportunity to build relationships outside their homeroom class.  

Each group named their team and picked a team captain. The team captain can change each week or month to allow each member to showcase their leadership.  The teams wear a color bracelet to identify their team easily, quickly, and again to build a bond.  

The wristbands were purchased from 24hourwristband.com
I ordered 90 wristbands for around $60.  The order arrived within 2-3 days.  

Each team begins with 500 points.  Students receive points throughout the day, week, and month.  They can also lose points as well.  For example, students can earn a point for completing homework, receiving a positive compliment from someone on campus, etc... They can lose points by not completing assignments in class or homework, receiving an office referral, etc... The students were given a list of ways to earn or ways points will be taken away.  Students need to know the expectations.  Each group will have a team meeting every Monday to check their point status and discuss ways to improve.  We can easily track their points using a google spreadsheet.  

Each team member could earn multiple points each day or lose them as well.  The google spreadsheet will update as the points are entered or subtracted.  We decided to go with this kind of system since we all have Macbooks (even our students).  We can easily access the shared file and update the points.  This process has started to work well with cafeteria behavior too.  

Note: The color at the top represents each team and their bracelet color too.  


We will reward highest scoring team each month with pizza and time in the campus game room.  If you have the need to implement a weekly reward system, I would say go for it.  I'm going month-by-month for our system.

This year we created a Hawk's Nest.  Our mascot is a hawk.  The game room has a pingpong table, foosball table, electronic gaming system with projector, and many more items.  It is one of the most exciting places on campus.  All the items were donated by the community.  


Since we were just getting a taste of this before Christmas break, I don't have any data to show that this will work for you or even for me for the remainder of the year.  However, I do know that we are all determined to do whatever it takes to help our students be successful.  I do have one success story to share with you though.  A student was behind in turning in his assignments.  He had 4 incomplete or missing assignments.  His team met and helped him locate these assignments and got him caught up.  They discussed ways to stay organized plus they all encouraged him to have all assignments completed on time.  The group ended up giving up their free time and went to study hall to help one another (By the way, this was their choice).  To me...that is a great moment.  Anytime I see student leadership and success I know we are on to something great.  


The video and the two quotes are perfect for the vision and culture of my school.  Always remember a single moment in time can change a person's life.  I hope to live a life of significance, not just a life of success.  I hope to create a school where we see the best in our students.  A school where we believe in our students.

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