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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