A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

25 Things Your Kid’s Principal Is Secretly Thinking

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

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Focused preteen boy doing homework on desk in his room
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A lot of homework isn’t always a sign of a good school

Some parents think that if their child is given a lot of work to do at home it’s a sign that the school they are attending is serious and has high expectations. However, a lot of research shows that homework is not the key to driving student success.

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Cute little Afro-American girl in casual clothes reading a book.

Attendance and reading are very important

The greatest indicators of student performance and success are attendance and reading at home. Make sure that your kids read independently every night and that they are getting enough sleep and nutrients to stay healthy and attend school every day. Here are some of the most common reasons why kids hate school.

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Mother And Daughter Meeting With Male Teacher
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We’re all on the same team

If heated situations ever arise, it might seem like the teacher and parent or principal and parent are on two separate teams, but really we all just want the best for your child. At the end of the day, teachers, principals, and families are all working as hard as they can because they want the best for the kids.

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black and white clock on light wooden wall with shiny on the wall, ten past ten o'clockconcept : late appointment, late morning, wake up late,

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. These are 33 things your child’s teacher won’t tell you.

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Teacher's desk with writing materials, a book and an apple, a blank for text or a background for a school theme. Copy space.

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.

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Young mixed race family sitting and relaxing at the beach on beautiful summer day.Playing in the sand.
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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.

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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.

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Teddy bear sitting on a wooden background

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.

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Teacher helping students with technology, high angle
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The child you see at home?

That’s almost never the one we see at school. These are signs you’re raising an emotionally intelligent child.

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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.

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Loving mother consoling or trying make peace with insulted upset stubborn kid daughter avoiding talk, sad sulky resentful girl pouting ignoring caring mom embracing showing support to offended child

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.”

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Detail Of Teacher With Digital Tablet Talking To Line Of High School Students Sitting By Screens In Computer Class
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My biggest pet peeve?

Parents who complain to me before talking to the teacher.

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Solving a mathematical problem in a notebook. Crumpled piece of paper on black desk.

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.

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Young student torturing of school bullying

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. You have to read about this teacher’s brilliant strategy to stop bullying.

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iStock/Steve Debenport

Kids are easy

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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basketball hoop
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The last thing I want to do on the sidelines of a basketball game 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. Here are 19 back-to-school secrets only parents of “A” students know.

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iStock/Christopher Futcher

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.

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Little girl sitting on a chair with brown brick background

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.

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iStock/Steve Debenport

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.

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

What we really value is hard work.

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It seems that more parents are 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.

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 wide angle front view of a bright yellow orange school bus and the big red stop sign
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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. Get even more informed about what your child does during the school day and learn about the 12 things your school bus driver wishes you knew.

Sources: Principals in Georgia, Utah, Florida, and New York and former principals in New Hampshire and Vermont, Lisa Bonnifield, Principal, KIPP BOLD Academy, Newark NJ