Editor’s Note: We wrote this blog when school was “in” as normal. We know this isn’t a normal year – but still want to encourage the same perspective. Now more than ever, schools and families are on the same team. You are justified in being “that parent.”
As a former principal, trust me: it’s okay…be that parent.
The national average public school student size is approximately 543 students. It takes a village to ensure every student is kept safe, learning to their full potential, and having their needs met. There is no way that a principal or even a full school leadership team can deeply understand if each student’s needs are being met in every way. We try our best, but we rely on parents, family members, teachers, and students to speak up about concerns. The school community has more collective knowledge to support our students and anyone individual person could ever dream. School leaders couldn’t do this without “that parent” (or those moms/dads/grandparents/guardians) who share what they notice or have concerns regarding their child.
When a parent or family member would come to me and apologize for reaching out or say, “I really don’t want to be THAT parent…” and it always made me sad. Principals want to hear parent voices and resolve the small things before they turn into big things. Your voice and your concerns matter.
One thing to consider as a parent reaching out to the principal is that the way you deliver the message is important. Make sure to meet the principal with a partnership mindset and a desire to work together. Using the same statistic earlier, with an average of 543 students in a school, principals need the community’s help to resolve the many problems that come up on a school campus daily. Offer your support, ideas, and resources to the principal. Coming into the conversation with a solutions-focused mindset will lead to answers and solutions much quicker.
Finally, it’s important to reach out in advance and make an appointment with the principal. With 543 students’ families reaching out and fulfilling all of the endless roles a principal has during a school day, it’s crucial to schedule meetings in advance. Principals will be more present and prepared to come up with solutions for your student.
As a former principal, these situations are just a few times I was appreciative for “that parent” reaching out to me:
If you feel your child is unsafe physically:
- You heard about a potential fight
- You heard about drugs or illicit substances on campus
- You have seen fighting or concerning behaviors around campus during dismissal/arrival times
- You are concerned about school safety or health policies
If you feel your child is unsafe emotionally:
- You have seen or heard of unsafe behavior on social media
- You are concerned about potential bullying
- You want to share family changes at home and request school emotional support
If you have other concerns regarding the school:
- You want to learn rationale about discipline procedures, academic topics, or school philosophies
- You have serious concerns with a teacher or staff member
- You can’t currently afford a school field trip or school dues
Always remember you are not “that mom” and you add so much value to the school community as a whole.