Keep the Principal Apprised
Suppose you were walking down one of the hallways in your school and a parent suddenly stepped out and punched you squarely in the nose. You'd doubtless hold your throbbing nose and blurt out indignantly, “Why in the world did you do that?”
Well, that's what it's like when your principal is confronted with an angry parent yelling about a problem he's been having with you and the principal has no earthly idea what the parent is talking about. No principal appreciates being sandbagged in this manner. Therefore, as often as necessary, keep your principal apprised of what's going on before the parent goes charging down to the front office.
Do I have to inform my principal of every little thing that goes wrong in my class?
No. Use your professional judgment to decide which issues may blow up and which ones will probably blow over. But whenever your inner alarm goes off — whenever you think, “I bet this parent will call my principal over this issue” — contact the boss.
For example, after you've made a parent phone call where the parent was combative and angry, contact your principal as soon as possible because there's a real possibility the parent may dial your principal right after she finishes talking to you. But if you have the foresight to visit the principal immediately — or call or send an e-mail — about the student's misbehavior as well as your efforts to remedy the situation, the principal will be adequately forewarned. When the parent subsequently arrives flinging wild accusations, the principal will probably be able to calm the parent without even requesting your participation. However, if you are summoned after school to meet with the parent and the principal, bring the student's dossier as a record of your ongoing efforts to help the student.
Don't just focus on parent phone calls that go wrong, however; you must seriously consider contacting your principal immediately if any of the following types of situations develop:
A student receives a classroom suspension for continual disruption during lessons
You send a student to the office with an official suspension form
A student directs threats toward you or other students or the entire school
A student makes vague or specific allegations of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
A student is involved in any situation involving tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, or weapons
Any parent shows up unannounced, and appears noncooperative or threatening
A student gets into an angry altercation or a physical fight with another student
Keeping your principal apprised is not simply a matter of common sense and common courtesy — it's a matter of survival, for your principal and for you. If your principal is unexpectedly waylaid too many times by too many of your parents, he may conclude the district would be better off without your services. You don't need to live in perpetual fear of being fired by the school board, but if you repeatedly anger your principal by failing to forewarn him of potential problems you might want to start updating your resume.