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Classful

Dealing with a less-than-ideal principal is enough to damper the best teaching situations.

Principals have a lot of influence over the general vibe of the school, and if your school has a difficult principle, it can be difficult to ignore. Here are a few pointers that can help you make the most out of a bad situation, but remember, if your principal is causing you undue stress, it may be time to look for a position at another school.

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Keep good documentation

  • Print out a copy of any emails that are questionable in any way
  • Make a written record of any negative interactions that you have with the principal
  • Send an email rather than speaking over the phone or in-person
  • Send a follow-up email after any face-to-face discussion outlining the details of the conversation
  • Be sure to keep your file AT HOME with any digital files saved to your personal computer or device
  • Don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself

Choose your battles

There is a world of difference between a principal with whom you have a personality clash and one who is behaving in an unethical or illegal manner. Avoidance may be the most effective strategy if you don’t like your principal or think they don’t like you. When they’re doing something wrong, it’s a completely different story, of course, but sometimes it may be best just to lay low and fly under the radar.

Always remain professional

Making sarcastic comments or gossiping with fellow teachers or parents may feel good at the moment but can be counterproductive. Getting even or trying to rally people to your side is a fool’s errand. It would be best always to act professionally and respectfully, no matter your personal feelings.

If the situation warrants it, advise your Union Representative of the situation

When things get to the point where you’re thinking about calling in sick because you can’t deal with the situation or your classroom performance is suffering, it’s time to involve your Union Rep. This is why you pay your union dues. Your Rep should have valuable experience that can help you manage the situation. Be forthright with them, but stick to the facts without adding too much editorial comment.

It’s time to find another school if the situation begins to affect your health or overall well-being

There’s nothing worth your health. Even if you love your students and fellow teachers, if your health is beginning to suffer, it’s time to move on. Don’t feel guilty or chastise yourself for being a “quitter”. Our health is one thing that should not be compromised for any job. If you feel like you have pursued all avenues, nothing has changed, and you fear that nothing ever will, it’s time to consider your options.

Sometimes these situations work themselves out over time, but if you know in your heart that you’re in a bad circumstance that isn’t going to change, it’s important to protect yourself. Don’t let a misguided sense of loyalty make your stay in an unhealthy situation that shows no signs of getting better. It’s time to put yourself and your needs first!