13+ Things Your Kid’s Principal Won’t Tell You

Straight from the principal's office: Use these tips for a better school year.

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1. If you want to talk to me about a problem, schedule a morning appointment, when I'm fresh.

1. If you want to talk to me about a problem, schedule a morning appointment, when I'm fresh.iStock/alexsokolov
By the afternoon, I can get pretty frazzled.

2. You're right, that teacher does stink.

2. You're right, that teacher does stink.iStock/YinYang
I'm actually in the process of firing her. Legally, I can't tell you that, though, so that's why I'm sitting here quietly while you complain.

3. Of course I'm going to disapprove of a child missing class for vacation.

3. Of course I'm going to disapprove of a child missing class for vacation.iStock/Nadezhdal1906
What I won't tell you is that I encouraged my own daughter to pull her kids out of school to visit me during my break.

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4. We had a young man struggling to focus during year-end tests.

4. We had a young man struggling to focus during year-end tests.iStock/shuravaya
"My underwear is on backward," he said. That's the problem with all this testing: We're being judged by assessments taken by kids who may have their underwear on backward.

5. You think that what happens at home stays at home?

5. You think that what happens at home stays at home?iStock/dolgachov
We hear about your financial problems, your nasty fights, your drinking problem. We end up knowing way too much about everybody.

6. The child you see at home?

6. The child you see at home? iStock/Imgorthand
That's almost never the one we see at school.

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7. Don't tell me your child would never lie to you.

7. Don't tell me your child would never lie to you.iStock/Steve Debenport
All kids make mistakes, and great students are often the ones most afraid to tell their parents when they screw up.

8. When we have a child who throws things or tries to hit when she's angry...

8. When we have a child who throws things or tries to hit when she's angry...iStock/shironosov
...her parents inevitably say, "I don't have a problem with her at home, because I spank her."

9. My biggest pet peeve?

9. My biggest pet peeve?iStock/Terry J Alcorn
Parents who complain to me before talking to the teacher.

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10. Don't ask me to make a teacher forgive a homework assignment or not to teach a specific subject.

10. Don't ask me to make a teacher forgive a homework assignment or not to teach a specific subject.iStock/Izabela Habur
We don't dictate to teachers; we work with them.

11. I've had a few students who were bullies.

11. I've had a few students who were bullies.iStock/Oktay Ortakcioglu
We suspend them again and again, but it's very tough to expel a student. The truth is, they have a right to an education.

12. Kids are easy.

12. Kids are easy.iStock/Steve Debenport
It's the parents who are tough. They're constantly trying to solve their kids' problems for them.

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13. What do I love about this job?

13. What do I love about this job?iStock/BraunS
I can influence and inspire kids and adults, help work through problems, and find solutions. And every day I can pop into a classroom where something interesting is going on. What other job gives you all of that?

14. C’mon parents, this is your child’s homework, not yours.

14. C’mon parents, this is your child’s homework, not yours.iStock/PeopleImages
We know what a seventh-grader can do, and we know what an adult with an engineering degree can do, so please don’t do your child’s work for him. Kids need to make mistakes and struggle through things; it’s how they learn.

15. Principals never know what the day will hold.

15. Principals never know what the day will hold.iStock/zoranm
One minute you’re mopping up vomit, the next you’re in a special ed meeting, and the next you’re dealing with two kids who got in a fight. Then you shovel snow off the sidewalk in front of school, you meet with teachers to decide whether to change the language arts curriculum, and you play basketball with a group of kids. And that’s just in the first two hours.

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16.The last thing I want to do on the sidelines of a basketball game or during intermission at the school play is have a conference with you about your child.

16.The last thing I want to do on the sidelines of a basketball game or during intermission at the school play is have a conference with you about your child.iStock/kokibaho
If you have something to talk to me about, come by my office during the day or even better, make an appointment.

17. If you and your child don’t like his teacher, tough luck.

17. If you and your child don’t like his teacher, tough luck. iStock/Christopher Futcher
Think of it as a lesson: In school, as in life, sometimes you have to learn to deal with things you don’t like.

18. When an unruly student gets sent to my office, my favorite strategy is not to engage right away.

18. When an unruly student gets sent to my office, my favorite strategy is not to engage right away.iStock/SolStock
I just let them sit there in agony while I keep working. It gives them a chance to calm down and de-escalate. Try it at home; it works.

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19. For years, folks have said that if you can’t do anything else, you can always go into education.

19. For years, folks have said that if you can’t do anything else, you can always go into education.iStock/Steve Debenport
The truth is, we’re not the leftovers, and this is what most of us wanted to do. I had been accepted to law school, but I chose this.

20. Our favorite kids aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQs.

20. Our favorite kids aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQs.iStock/IPGGutenbergUKLtd
What we really value is hard work.

21. Since the economy has gotten bad, it seems that more parents are taking any job they can get, working crazy hours and neglecting their children.

21. Since the economy has gotten bad, it seems that more parents are taking any job they can get, working crazy hours and neglecting their children. iStock/Svetikd
Then a lot of them try to make up for that by coming to their child’s rescue when there’s an issue with a teacher, coming in here and hollering at us.

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22. As a principal, you’re expected to know about bus routes, curriculum, communication, school lunches, adolescent development, conflict management, learning disabilities, and more.

22. As a principal, you’re expected to know about bus routes, curriculum, communication, school lunches, adolescent development, conflict management, learning disabilities, and more.iStock/DragonImages
You have to be an expert on everything, sometimes in the same 20 minutes. Sources: Principals in Georgia, Utah, Florida, and New York and former principals in New Hampshire and Vermont

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59 thoughts on “13+ Things Your Kid’s Principal Won’t Tell You

  1. im really in troble on monday guys im gonna go to the principals office T^T

  2. It seems to me tgat my sond principal keeps on taking things away from mt son as a way to get to me… he has mesical problems that make him miss some school first it was the bus now some classes that she points ou he needs im so done with tgis my frear is if I go to tge school board she will retaliate

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  4. This principal needs to understand that at the end of the day, we are the parents of our own children, so we MUST be their advocates. How many gifted kids have been relegated to “problem” kids because they weren’t “working hard enough”? If my children are not engaged at all at the school and find it boring, it IS, in fact, the Principal’s responsibility to provide a more engaging environment. That is why I’m paying my taxes. The other thing…schools need to stop worrying about their ranking and start paying attention to the kids at the INDIVIDUAL level.

  5. I’ve known several principals and while most seem semi-intelligent they are possibly the most useless people in the school. Most have never worked anywhere outside of education and have absolutely no idea how to manage anything, they cannot present to save their lives, and they are generally inept.

  6. Can someone tell me of it is legal for a primcipal to interogate a kindergarten student with special ed Conditions as parents have no knowledge of this and have not given consent.

  7. Why is it when a parent advocates for their child, they are trying to solve their child’s problems? I have yet to see a 5 – 13 year old be able to stand up to a teacher without effective guidance from parents. It seems that people forget it is a parents job to protect their child and thus should engage with teachers, principals and boards to ensure accountability. In Ontario, parents are also advocating for the Ombudsman to have jurisdiction over all school boards to ensure that everyone is being treated fairly… Other wise, I guess we are all expected to just “take your word for it” and we all know that adults don’t lie either right?

  8. I just don’t want my SON (not kid, that sounds so much like you really don’t give a s***) “struggling” 16+ hours a day. Take your bulls*** capitalism and shove it up your a**. And personally, I think an EDUCATIONAL institution should appreciate natural talent like someone with a naturally high IQ. But, I’ve been pointing this out for years, the school isn’t there to teach your “kid” math or science, they are there to teach your kid how to work and work and work and work and work and work and work….. So glad that gifts are recognized in this country…. “Ahhh, yes this one is our favorite. She is the perfect little pack mule. She works sooo hard. Sits perfectly quiet and does everything we say. She never asks hard questions. She doesn’t have the IQ to possibly think of them. They would be uncomfortable for us to answer anyway.” I SOOO wish I could send my SON to private school.

  9. 14 is so not true. I am 12, and I have never been helped with my homework. I have a W3 certification in 2 languages, am bilingual, and have taught myself 9th grade algebra ALONE. my teacher asked my parents if they were helping me with my homework and they said that they barely knew I have homework. Teachers can’t tell

  10. unfortunately for the kids, this arrogant attitude is exactly the problem. They don’t like dealing with the parents because they don’t want to be held accountable for their decisions. So instead of being good problem solvers, they just make up policies to hide behind.

  11. #17 is wrong and crap. Bad teachers as in bad service cannot be tolerated. Same as bad students

    1. It doesn’t say “bad teacher”, it says “you don’t like your teacher”. There is a BIG difference.

      1. Yeah, but why would you not like a good teacher that is doing their job, which in turn does you a favor? That makes no sense. And you have to have a reason to complain. No one is going to take the time out of the day to go to the principles office just to complain because the teacher has a bad haircut. Seriously?

  12. This list is so unbelievably full of crap, I makes me want to spank the author and then see if they stop writing lies at work. 

  13. I love how everyone is so eager to stand up for the rights of a bullying kid to get an education but what about the rights of the victims? They should be able to access education without having to constantly live in fear.

  14. So…this Michelle has apparently done every job ever, and knows everything?

  15. Some parents do have to work crazy hours, but that does not mean they neglect the children =/ poorly written -#21

  16. Uh…no, if I don’t like the teacher and think she’s not bright enough to make up for the weak curriculum, it’s not “too bad”. It means I pull my kid and homeschool her, and your district loses the money. I lose money, too, but I’m willing to do that so that the kid leaves school knowing how to read and do math. 

    Also, law school…a few of you, maybe. Unfortunately, those of us near universities know which kids default to the ed tracks. They’re not generally the best & brightest, which is also why “for education majors” is a synonym for “watered-down”. The terrible economy does have a lot of able, bright people going back for teacher certs, but on the whole? The well-educated parents’ eyes pop out when we hear some of the (deeply wrong) things you’re teaching our kids. The kids do so well on the tests because we spend hours and hours each week correcting your errors, making the kids do more complex and difficult work, etc. 

    You guys do yeoman work, and God knows I’d be in the nuthouse after four hours of your workday. The mere idea of spending all day, every day, with hundreds of kids…forget it. But please, let’s not exaggerate the quality of the teaching. We suck internationally, our STEM graduate programs are full of foreign nationals because we can’t find enough American kids who can compete, and it’s not solely because we’ve got a large chunk of the population disengaged from their kids’ educations. A hefty portion of blame goes to the fact that we don’t expect nearly enough, intellectually, of either our kids or our teachers. 

  17. 17 – so I am supposed to like having a year of my child’s education wasted because I think the teacher is not doing their job???

  18. #11 is so totally incorrect.  There is a new Federal Law that outlaws bullying!  All State Education Departments are REQUIRED to mandate local school districts to have policies to deal with bullies.  For example, my district requires that a reported bullying incident, whether reported to a teacher, principal, etc., be written up within 24 hours.  This report must then be investigated at the school level within 48 hours with a written report sent to the victim’s parents, the victim, the bully’s parents, and then forwarded to the district’s Board of Education where it must be further investigated within 5 business days and then forwarded to the State Board of Education.  Bullying in the schools is no longer tolerated!

    1. Agreed! And even if that bully has a right to an education, principals need to understand that it doesn’t mean that they have the right to have access to their target. There are home study programs, restricted learning environments (more supervision), and independent study programs available as alternative solutions to mixing violent kids with the general population of other students. Principals need to escalate to the district and move a problemed kid where they can get the appropriate education and stop disrupting others.

  19. At the end of this article there was a math book mentioned that could help parents help kids. What was the name of that book?

  20. # 17. 
    I don’t like my son’s teacher. 
    She humiliates kids in front of the whole classroom, she tells how bad  he/she did the work and ….shows it to the rest!!  exposing is humiliating. Wrong. Very wrong done to kids as ..to adults. She has been doing this for years and the principal can do nothing cause of …seniority. Kids, who were her students are still struggling with the healing. THERE ARE BAD TEACHERS, that parents we don’t like and we deserve a change. Or as I did, I changed my kid to another school thru school choice, and our life, and FAMILY dynamics improved, just because our kids, as many others who left the school for this bad teacher, got better. No– we don’t have to deal with bad teachers nor its bad luck. And I didn’t like the teacher, because I didn’t like her AS A PERSON. wrong # 17. 

  21. #8 is BS. It implies that corporal punishment leads to violence, which it doesn’t. But if that is the response, then spank them in school and watch the violence disapear.

  22. “20. Our favorite kids aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQs.
    What we really value is hard work.”

    This is one of the real problems in America. Our education system is more interested in bringing up under-performing students to the level of “higher IQ” students, and we never challenge the smarter students. And we ask why US educations are outperformed by so many other countries?

  23. “20. Our favorite kids aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQs.
    What we really value is hard work.”

    This is one of the real problems in America. Our education system is more interested in bringing up under-performing students to the level of “higher IQ” students, and we never challenge the smarter students. And we ask why US educations are outperformed by so many other countries?

  24. “20. Our favorite kids aren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQs.
    What we really value is hard work.”

    This is one of the real problems in America. Our education system is more interested in bringing up under-performing students to the level of “higher IQ” students, and we never challenge the smarter students. And we ask why US educations are outperformed by so many other countries?

      1. As opposed to corporate America, or our politicians, who do not?  I want enough money to support my family, no apologies.

      2. As opposed to corporate America, or our politicians, who do not?  I want enough money to support my family, no apologies.

    1. Yes, because when we are not challenging our best and brightest they are never given a chance to work hard. If the work is easy, they just don’t have to work.

  25. “When we have a child who throws things or tries to hit when she’s angry…

    …her parents inevitably say, “I don’t have a problem with her at home, because I spank her.””

    I call Bullsh*t.

    1. Or maybe they do “spank” (hit) her and that’s WHY she tries to hit when angry.

      1. I think that’s exactly what they are tying to imply and I have never experienced anything like that. 

        In my experience, the most violent kid is the one who’s parent says, “The only thing you teach someone when you spank them  is that hitting is acceptable.”…

      2. I have an autistic son who hits and how dare you drop stuff like that online
        Peoples personal stuff. What a great mentor What Is Wrong With The Teaching system. Facebook mentor I’m sure

  26. Love #8!  Bring back corporal punishment at the secondary level!!  Ha!!

  27. #1- Fire them?  They can’t FIRE bad teachers!  All they can do is shuffle them around until they decided to quit or retire!!!

  28. #11.  You waive your right to an education when you become a threat or a disruption.  Kick ’em out.

  29. Ok. #15 is bs because my dad is a janitor and has worked at 5 different schools. Principals don’t mop up puke OR shovel snow…

    1. We come from a small town and I see our principal shoveling every year! :)

    2. We come from a small town and I see our principal shoveling every year! :)

      1.  I am the principal of a small school and I shovel and clean up puke often!!!!!!!

    3.  I’ve done both, and I’m a school principal.  I’ve also changed diapers, served school lunch, subbed in classrooms, driven kids home, broken up fights, and done all sorts of things that really aren’t in the job description.  And I do them all with a smile, because my job is to help out.

    4.  I’ve done both, and I’m a school principal.  I’ve also changed diapers, served school lunch, subbed in classrooms, driven kids home, broken up fights, and done all sorts of things that really aren’t in the job description.  And I do them all with a smile, because my job is to help out.

    5. This principal does mop up pee, puke and spilled milk.  If fact, I often shovel mulch, which my custodian can’t do because of contractual issue.  I fill in holes on the playground and paint over vandalism.  The public has no idea when they come in screaming about how angry they are over not getting the sticker their child didn’t earn, that I have serious problems like drugs, weapons and scary adults that I am not supposed to discuss.

      1. I’m glad there are people like you who are willing to do what needs doing.

    6. I certainly did as a principal. I also served breakfast and lunch when we were short-handed. I never asked anyone to do anything I would not do. That’s how most of us roll.

      1. You look like you never would do things like this maybe once. Quit talking out the side of your head. Must have like 10 kids in your school? Shoveling puke with a master’s or doc? You educators don’t do this stuff…..trusts me! Your just bad mouthing your boy who keeps the building clean and your students healthy. When have you unclogged a fat duece in the toilet? Even at your home? Shame on you for making it seem like it’s not your fault for the condition of your school.

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