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Things the Principal May Not Tell You

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As we gear up for a new school year, here are a few things that the principal likely won’t tell you. 

Reader’s Digest asked both current and former principals in six states common questions they get from parents, so here’s what they said about what they wish parents knew.

When you say, “My kid would never lie”, you’re being naive. Everyone makes mistakes and screws up every now and then. We’re human. Principals say that often times it’s the straight A kids who cause trouble and lie their way out of hot water to protect their image of being a perfect kid in the eyes of their parents.


Issues come up. It’s a fact of life and principals wish that the parents would speak with the teacher before escalating things by going straight to the principal’s office. Even kids who are in trouble and sent to the principal’s office aren’t sent there immediately, so speak with the teacher first and if that doesn’t solve the issue, then go to the principal, but make the appointment in the morning when they’re fresh because by the end of the day, they may be a tad frazzled. They also wish parents wouldn’t try and have a “quick” conversation with them at a play or school carnival.


If you’re having an issue with a specific teacher and you say that you’ve spoken to other parents and it sounds like everyone is having the same issue with the same teacher, the principal likely knows about it and they are aware that some of the teachers aren’t the best and even if that teacher is in danger of losing their job, the principal likely can’t say anything about it for legal reasons. They also say that it’s tough luck when you tell them that your child and their teacher don’t get along. They say that it’s a lesson in life because everyone has to deal with things and people that they don’t like.


The principal is always going to disapprove of you pulling your children out of school to go on vacation, but they aren’t going to tell you that they encouraged their daughter to pull their kids out of school to come visit them when they were on their break. The principal also is going to disapprove of you trying to make a teacher forgive an undone homework assignment or trying to force a teacher to teach certain things. Principals say that they’re there to work with the teachers, not dictate to them.


The kids are the easy part of the job. It’s the parents who can be difficult to deal with. Some of the principals say that parents are often trying to solve the child’s problems instead of having the child try and solve the problems themselves and that also goes for homework assignments. The principals say that they know what a 13 year old is capable of doing and they also know what a parent with an accounting degree is capable of and they know when a parent does the homework for the child. They say that parents shouldn’t do the homework for them, but rather assist where they can and allow the child to struggle through it and learn.


It’s not all drudgery. The principals say that they never know what the day will hold. They’re cleaning up puke one minute, then they have to break up a fight and the next thing they know, they’re in a pick up game of basketball laughing their head off with a bunch of fifth graders. The phrase that “those that can’t do; teach” isn’t true. The principals say they aren’t the leftovers. Most of them chose education as a profession because they love kids and relish the opportunity to mold minds and shape the future. Learning doesn’t just happen between the bells. Learning is a full time job for kids and parents are the full time educator.


What are you most looking forward to this school year?

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