When is it time to talk to the principal about an issue?
Real Mom Problem
“My son is having trouble with a couple of boys in his class. I feel terrible. Earlier in the year I asked the teachers to keep an eye on this, but I know they are very busy. Should I go straight to the principal?”
- 1. Find out from your child's teacher the preferred method of communication: email, phone call, notes, etc.
- 2. Set up a time to speak with your child's teacher or principal rather than showing up unannounced at school
- 3. Keep a record of all communications
- 4. If you don't feel you're getting an adequate response from a teacher or principal, consider going higher up
- 5. Remember, you are your child's advocate, but always try to approach issues calmly, not in an adversarial way
Real Mom Solutions
How do you know when to let the teacher handle a problem, or when it's time to go higher up? Let the experienced moms of CafeMom help you decide.
Some Moms Stick to Chain of Command
I am a teacher and would prefer that the parent contact me first. That way I am aware of the situation and can keep a closer eye on the situation. If I see any strange behavior, I can document it, and report it to the principal and our guidance department. Since I am the one with direct contact with the students on a daily basis, I feel it is important that I know right away. Administrators do not have constant interactions with the students like the teachers.
Go to the teacher first. It's her job to deal with the kids in her class. It is the teacher's responsibility to deal with these issues. Ask the teacher if she feels that you should have a talk with the principal about it. Sometimes the teacher has done what they can and needs the parents to talk to the principal. Follow the chain of command: teacher first, and then principal. You need to give her the opportunity to fix this.
I would definitely speak with the teacher -- he/she deals directly with the class every day. An email is good for documentation, and you can ask for a phone conference to speak to them as well. Your child's teacher is your ally (they are in charge of your child during school hours), and open communication is vital. If the issue continues or escalates, then I'm sure the teacher would bring the principal in and go from there.
Unless the behavior you want to discuss is a direct action of the teacher you should never go above the teacher's head first. Give the teacher a chance to address issues in her own classroom before you tell her boss about it.
I think contacting the teacher first is the best initial step. They will most likely report this to the principal, but they can provide additional insight about the student and what they've observed in the classroom.
Others Involve the Principal Right Away
I would talk to the teacher and the principal. As the parent, you have to. Who else is going to stand up for our children? They depend on us to. I've been through the same thing as a child myself and then with my own. Let your child know that you have his back.
Remember that no matter what happens, you are your child's only advocate! Teachers, principals, and the districts have to deal with too many kids. So start with the principal and ask for a meeting with the teacher. No reason to get defensive or accusatory. If you feel they are resistant or not helpful, tell them that you plan to step it up a notch. Complain to the school district; if they are not helpful go up to the next level. Also looking into your parental rights regarding the law wouldn't hurt. The more you know, the less advantage they will take of you.
I think you should talk to the teacher and the principal at the same time. That way it is all in the open at once.
Keep a Record of Communication
I would first go to my daughter's teacher. If after talking to the teacher, the situation still isn't resolved, I would then contact the principal. Make sure that you keep a journal of your conversations. List the date, the time and who you spoke to, and write down what was discussed. This will be helpful if further action (going to the superintendent) needs to be taken.
Emailing is sometimes better than talking in person. This way all the interaction is documented and if this happens again OR if you do not get the response from her you are wanting, you have something to take to the principal's office. Don't waste your time with the assistant principal, go straight to the principal.
I would email the teacher and copy the principal. It is then in writing and both are aware.