50 things principals can do to build relationships with kids

  1. Greet them at drop-off wearing an unexpected or seasonal accessory. Think hats, glasses, boas, unique outfit, or silly shoes.
  2. Send them off at the end of the day honking a bike horn
  3. Play popular music upon arrival. Dance and give high fives as students come through the door!
  4. Celebrate small and large successes.
  5. Have teachers and staff submit positive office referrals
  6. Recognize individual and whole classes of students for progress toward or attainment of goals
  7. Sit down with a student and read a book to them. Ask them to read a book to you!
  8. Don’t be afraid to sing to a student. You don’t have to have a melodic voice to greet a student with a great rendition of “You are my Sunshine” to bring joy to their faces.
  9. Eat lunch with students in the office.
  10. Eat lunch with students in the cafeteria.
  11. Host a tic-tac-toe tournament during lunch on a large whiteboard. You’d be surprised at how good kids get at strategy when they want to beat the principal!
  12. Ride a bike, scooter or trike down the hall. Wave at students as you drive by.
  13. Have a stack of ribbons or special recognition awards on your desk to give to students when they come to the office to celebrate an accomplishment.
  14. Give every student a book for their birthday. Tap into your PTO for support on making this happen.
  15. Move your office to the hallway. Use a mobile cart or take your laptop to a common area and set up shop for the day.
  16. Don’t hesitate to jump in and take a student’s temperature, offer an ice pack or pull the garbage can over for a sick one. Knowing they’re cared for when they’re sick is important.
  17. Have a stash of fidgets, sensory toys, or other materials available in your office. You never know when you’ll have a student that needs a break, to be comforted, or needs a quiet place to play.
  18. Use your passions and your quirks to build connections. Put trolls dolls around the office!
  19. Hide a picture of your school mascot at various places around your building. Cheer when students find it.
  20. Surprise parents with a donut treat when they drop their child off in the morning.
  21. Tell students they’re your favorite. I have 250 favorite students in my building. My favorite first grade Caleb… my favorite fourth grade Caleb… anything to make them feel important and valued.
  22. Make the first day of school spectacular. Props, welcome committee, costumes, pep rally… whatever it takes!
  23. Call parents to tell them how cool their kid is.
  24. Have kids sit with you while you call their parents to tell them how cool they are.
  25. Tell them that the test scores matter, but you value them as an individual more than the test. Celebrate their creativity, kindness, and unique talents.
  26. Walk into a classroom and let kids know how lucky they are to have an awesome teacher. The teachers and the students will both appreciate it.
  27. Leave post-it notes with feedback on their work in the hallways.
  28. Leave post-it notes with encouragement on their desks or in their lockers.
  29. Leave post-it notes in the bathroom with inspirational messages or memorable quotes
  30. Play knock-out with students at recess.
  31. DON’T play tether ball at recess. Trust me on that one.
  32. Put stickers on the bottom of random lunch trays. Give a special prize or book for the students that have one.
  33. Take a #selfieaday with a student. Post on your school facebook or twitter account with the reason they were able to take a selfie with you.
  34. Run with kids under the parachute in PE class. You’ll be surprised how much fun you have!
  35. Ask the cafeteria staff to color applesauce green
  36. Squeeze yourself into a display case. Enjoy the giggles and alien looks that happen as students walk by.
  37. Put an old mailbox outside of the office. Answer any mail that comes in from students.
  38. Display pictures of students and teachers throughout the building.
  39. Put books everywhere. Ask yourself, “does the school learning environment mirror what you say you value?”
  40. Dress as a monkey and pass out bananas on National Banana Day. Encourage kids to balance work and play!
  41. When there are school-wide themed dress days… participate!
  42. Get on the roof and spray water guns at students during recess.
  43. Call kids out of class for a minute just to tell them you’re proud of them
  44. Put a disco ball in the cafeteria. Play music during lunch.
  45. Put mirrors in the hallway. Tell students they are smart. beautiful. worthy. valued.
  46. Support teachers in instructional risk-taking. If a teacher wants to make a crazy idea become a reality, work to get it done. 10/10 it makes a memory, kids are engaged and learning occurs.
  47. Have students take a picture of the school mascot home. Encourage them to tweet or post pictures of them in the community to a specific hashtag.
  48. Have a school-wide writing project. We send Royal Rococo home with each student. This stuffed bird goes on adventures all around our school and community and students write about it.
  49. Be the first to volunteer for any crazy idea: Get pied in the face, duct taped to the wall, or volunteered for any other crazy idea.
  50. Be cognizant that your job is to be there for kids. Do whatever it takes to bring them joy and love!


  • LOVE IT. Was going to pick a favorite to comment about, but there are too many. Sharing your blog right now with my principals. They are awesome at building relationships with kids already, but everyone needs new ideas. THANK YOU.

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