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August Morale Boosters for your School- Hawaiian Style


Aloha friends!

If you have been reading Morale Magic, you will totally guess what will be happening in August.  I plan on decorating the teacher workroom/lounge in the Aloha theme.  Aloha means welcome or used when greeting someone.  Back-to-School is the perfect time of the year to greet your team in a fun way.  


I can't wait to show you the transformation of the room.  However, it will have to wait a few weeks because the lounge area is under construction.

BEHIND THE SCENES:  

This may look like a hot mess and scare many people, but I couldn't be more excited about what's going to take place in this room.  This room was a former homemaking kitchen back in the day.  The kitchen had not been used in years.  The stove and dishwasher were antiques and really a hazard.  Therefore, the district spent some funds and installed a stainless steel stove and dishwasher.  I can't tell you how excited I am about this!  The teachers and staff in this school deserve a great space to eat lunch and fellowship with one another.


A view of the dishwasher and stove.  I don't foresee us using a stove a lot, but it will be handy when we have an event or celebration.  I just know the old one needed to go.

THE WALL

The wall is being built to close off the room from the gym and concession stand area.  The room is a great size and has tons of storage.  This school year I hope to add an ice machine too.  We did end up having to get some kitchen supplies since the campus has only had a small coffee counter in the office area.  The concession stand is on the other side of this wall as I mentioned earlier.  In order for volunteers to get into the concession stand to work an event, they will have to enter this room.  The wall will still give them access to the concession stand but will allow us to lock the room at night.



This room will also help us store all the bulletin board paper and dicut machine.  Since the floor is not covered in carpet, we had a teacher suggest using part of the room for art and cooking projects.  This will be a great multi-purpose room.  If you look closely at the picture, there are three sink areas.  It appears as though each sink area also had a stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher.  Having a side for art and cooking projects won't be a problem at all.  I also see this room as a great space to have parent events.  I hope you can just feel my excitement.


In a couple of weeks, check back on social media as I unveil the makeover!  Twitter: @principalsteph1  Instagram: principalprinciples  Facebook: Principal Principles


WHERE TO PURCHASE

I purchase most of the items at Hobby Lobby and Wal-mart.  However, after talking to a few friends about this project, they informed me they do not live close to a Hobby Lobby.  They have to do a lot of online shopping or drive over an hour.  You might be in the same situation or you simply prefer shopping from home.  I know my husband would much rather us shop from home than battle the traffic and the stores.  Therefore, I made this Amazon list for you if you want to just grab all of it in one shopping cart. 



PINTEREST IDEAS

If you would like more ideas, check out my Pinterest board.  I started planning and thought you might like to pin the same ideas.  You can follow this board or all of my boards on PINTEREST. (click here)



MORALE MAGIC

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. Below is a look at just one of the activities for August. You will have at least 4 activities for each month. Some months have more!

(FYI...my ink is running low!)


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The Best Professional Backpack for Commuting

I have tried many different bags to carry all of my files and my computer.  I am always left frustrated with digging for my keys, searching for a pen, etc...  This all changed recently.  I saw my friend, Christine Bedre (The Pickled Principal) with this amazing backpack and, I was sold immediately. I ordered it from Amazon before I left for the TEPSA Summer Conference.  This backpack held all of my presentation materials and travel necessities too.



I commute about 40 minutes to work each day.  For some of you, 40 minutes doesn't seem so bad when compared to your travel time.  I can cut it down to maybe 30 minutes some days if I take a different route through the countryside.  However, that route has many roads without phone reception.  Also, in the early mornings, I run into the fear of hitting deer. 

This backpack carries not only some in-progress files, my macbook, but it also has many essentials for a long day.  I love all of the sections.  I think my favorite sections of the backpack are the two very front ones.  I have pens, keys and business cards in the front.  Anything that I need quickly is located in the front.




I removed all of my "stuff" so you can see the inside easily.


You may be thinking I'm not a backpack-kind-of-girl.  I thought the same thing for a long time.  I fought that same fight until I met up with Christine at Starbucks to begin planning Morale Magic.  Shopping for a professional looking backpack that is office/school appropriate and stylish can be a bit tricky.  Some bags can leave you looking unprofessional.  I'm totally fine with the look of this backpack even carrying it on my back with my dress and heels.  However, I can switch it out if going to a fancy meeting.  In that instance, I can carry my Dagne Dover bag. 




What do you use to carry your work essentials in each day? Have you converted to a backpack yet?

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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.

PORTABLE SPEAKER

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.


MY TOP 40 PLAYLIST 

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.  

DOWNLOAD MUSIC HANDOUT



MORALE MAGIC


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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!

 MORALE MAGIC

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:

July
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  



ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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.

TICKLER FILING SYSTEM



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.

Why?  

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.

GOOGLE KEEP


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.


WHAT DATA TO USE:

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

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.  

HOW TO GET STARTED:

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.  

HOW TO MANAGE ALL THE DIFFERENT GROUPS:

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.  

Tip: 

 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.  

NEED DATA FORMS? 

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.  

DIGITAL DATA

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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