The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and many students and their families give gifts to the administration to say thank you for the year. (If you don’t, I’m not suggesting you should.  I’m simply reporting the way it is).  While Starbuck’s gift cards are nice, there are a few gifts that we find priceless.  Let me emphasize that: PRICELESS.  Here are a few gifts any principal will enjoy.  One size fits most.

1. Bringing concerns to the teacher instead of immediately to the teacher’s principal.  If the principal is experienced, he/she WON’T meet with you until you’ve met with the teacher first.  Why?  Keeping his staff functioning smoothly means that he keeps them feeling supported.  If the teacher is not brought into the conflict, the principal is undermining his/her own staff. You don’t want a leader in the school that won’t support his/her own staff. The best businesses are the ones who make their workplaces enjoyable places in which to work. The most productive business owners understand that supported employees provide the best customer service.

2. Taking the teacher along when conflict needs to go to the principalNothing is smarmier than be nice to a teacher and then to cut him/her down in front of the teacher’s boss.  If you have nothing to hide, pull everything out in the open. Also,  when you go to the principal without the teacher, the principal will inform the teacher of the complaint anyway.  That’s just the way it’s done. Staff doesn’t keep secrets from staff.  You might as well be seen as an out-in-the-open type of person.

3. Expressing a concern right away.  Hearing that someone has stewed over an issue all year because he/she “didn’t want to bother any one” saddens me.  If we are to be effective, we have to hear what we’re doing wrong.  We as administrators do care what parents think, and we want to live without conflict as much as possible.  The team approach is the only effective model of education.

4. Refraining from grumbling to other parents.  Take concerns with the school to people who can actually make changes. Other parents can’t help you.  Their ideas will usually not work for your child.  Their interactions with a teacher will never be yours.  They can’t offer a way to control the situation.  Don’t let other parents determine what you think of a teacher.

Side note: The natural laws which work in the real world usually don’t work in the world of education.  Why?  Dealing with students is a matter of principle.  Most people in education (I wish I could say all) love children. Here is their secret:  they love their kids a jillion times more than they love you–and be thankful of that.  They are not in the classroom to make you happy.  They are there to do the best with your kids.  If you think that’s bad, let me ask you this:  would you want somebody teaching your child that wanted to please another parent of a student in the class more than they wanted to do what is right for your child?

5. Telling the school when good things happen.  I’ve asked my faculty to make me aware of good attributes in students so that I can compliment them.  On an average day, I hear about ten complaints a day.  Sometimes parent, sometimes student, sometimes staff. What I LOVE hearing are the compliments.  When they come, we all beam.

Educators in this country were never paid well.  These days they are not respected either.  However, it IS an exhausting job, albeit one that is extremely fulfilling.  When we look for ways to show harmony to each other, we benefit the one that really matters: the student.