I’ve never been a parent who ran to the principal for anything.
Probably because I was a teacher before my kids were born, I’ve believed that you need to work things out with the teacher, not go over his/her head to the principal, unless things didn’t get resolved.
In the past, there either weren’t issues or they were small things that got resolved with the teacher.
If it is something small or if it’s something you need clarification on, or even if it’s just the first time you’ve had an issue with that teacher, go to them first. Because if it can be resolved that way, there’s not a need to get the principal involved.
But if you’ve tried that and nothing is changing, you’re worried about your child, or if there is something you don’t feel comfortable talking to the teacher about, it is time to go talk to someone in administration.
If you do have a meeting with the principal, keep these things in mind:
Set an appointment. You might be able to just walk in, and if it’s something huge that really and truly needs attention RIGHT NOW, then go park yourself in the office until someone can talk to you. But if it’s something that can realistically hold for another day or two(or even just until later that same day), schedule a meeting. That way, the principal has time to talk to you and doesn’t have to rush off after 5 minutes because they have another meeting.
Stay calm. If you reach the point where you feel like you need to talk to the principal, you’re most likely really upset. I know I was. But know that the actual point to your discussion might get lost if you go in screaming. The principal’s main concern will be to calm you down and make sure you aren’t a danger if you go in hot. You don’t want your words to get overshadowed by your attitude.
Go in with specific concerns. What is bothering you? What incidents have lead you to have this concern? And while if you hear some really crazy accusations from other parents, you can bring those up, it’s more helpful if you have a personal experience to share. You aren’t there to be the voice of the entire classroom and share all the gossip, you’re there for your own child.
I had volunteered in the class in question on a regular basis, so I had specific concerns from what I’d seen. I also had situations my son had shared with me, along with graded assignments to back up what I was saying.
Have suggestions in mind. What do you want done? What do you think the teacher could change to address your concerns? How could the principal assist in this?
I had a few ideas for classroom management and parent communication, along with the suggestion that there should be at least one graded assignment a week, if not more, not just four total graded assignments for an entire grading period, in order to give kids a better shot in class.
Be understanding and realistic. Know that (in general), schools really are trying to help your kids. Not every suggestion you have can be put into place, even if it’s a great idea. Go ahead and suggest that the class would run smoother if there was a full-time TA in there, but know that the school budget might not allow for that.
I didn’t go in wanting anyone’s head. I actually like the teacher in question and let the principal know that I realize the teacher is trying to make improvements and that that goes a very long way with me. But that my concern was that changes weren’t being made fast enough for them to make any difference this school year, and I didn’t want this year to be a total wash for my son.