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

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

By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest | September 2012
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    1. If you want to talk to me about a problem, schedule a morning appointment, when I'm fresh.

    By the afternoon, I can get pretty frazzled.

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

    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.

    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.

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

    "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?

    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?

    That's almost never the one we see at school.

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

    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...

    ...her parents inevitably say, "I don't have a problem with her at home, because I spank her."

    9. My biggest pet peeve?

    Parents who complain to me before talking to the teacher.

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

    We don't dictate to teachers; we work with them.

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

    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.

    It's the parents who are tough. They're constantly trying to solve their kids' problems for them.

    13. What do I love about this job?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

    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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    Your Comments

    • steph

      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.

    • Guest12

      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?

    • LikeImgonnaseriouslygonnashare

      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.

    • Adam

      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

    • kathy

      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.


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

      • lyrralt

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

        • comeonpeoplecommonsense

          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?

    • Vdarkbeastv

      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. 

    • Anon E Mouse

      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.

    • Sean

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

    • guest

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