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Principals, Start Your Engines!!

The revving of the engine, the smell of burning fuel, the squealing of tires…all signs of a car race in progress. But in this instance, I’m not talking about a suped-up street racer or a drag-strip funny car, I’m thinking about the sounds, sights, and emotions that come with the launch of a new school year. It is that time around the country when teachers, paraprofessionals, cooks, bus drivers, etc begin making their way back into the swing. And for principals, it is such an awesome time!!

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak as the open keynote for a school district in Virginia. The arena was packed with over 800 educators, the marching band played, cheerleaders were chanting in unison, it was absolutely electric!! I had goosebumps multiple times that day, and it wasn’t even my district that was kicking off. I miss the first day of school now that I’m not working regularly in a public school as a principal, but being at other kick off events is a close second to the real thing. I often say that it’s in the top three things I miss about being a principal. Just think about it…on the first day of school your students are never more ready to learn than on that day. They are excited to see their friends, to meet their teachers, and many are just happy to be back in the place where they are seen, heard, and loved the most. Teachers are never more ready to teach than they are on day one either. Yet, somehow, we often waste that perfect moment on things like the syllabus, rules, and handing out text books. So, principals, here you go, time for launch. And as you prepare to see students very soon, let me share a few ideas to create an amazing first day experience that pushes away from the mundane and has both students and staff charging back in the door for day 2.

New Year’s Bash – it’s the first day of a new year, right? So throw a New Year’s party. You can buy all the 2022 stuff on Amazon for pennies on the dollar (who else wants all that stuff anyway). Have the band playing, teachers greeting students and parents at the front door dressed for a party. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and they won’t forget it any time soon!

Throw a pep-rally – why not? Get all your students and staff in the gym, play some games, maybe have a dance-off, blast some Journey ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and watch those smiles grow!

Have a scavenger hunt – still feel like you have to do ‘the rules’ on day 1? Ok, that’s fine. Work with your PBIS team and make it a fun event. Have prizes, turn it into a competition – learning and fun can and should go hand in hand.

BONUS: Ice Cream party – so, wrap up this fun day with ice cream at the exits. It’s August after all, let them leave with a treat in hand and a smile on their face.

I hope you all have an incredible kick off to begin your year. I’ll be back next week with some more ideas to help you be the best leader you can possibly be this year!

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


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