Assist! My most difficult scholar can be the principal’s little one

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I was honored when my principal said he chose me to teach his son’s 3rd grade this year, but I struggle with his behavior and disrespect on a daily basis. He usually manages to stay close to officer-level infractions, but finally broke the camel’s back when he asked our guest speaker inappropriate questions. He said to me, “What are you going to do, send me to my dad?” It feels really awkward bringing up my concerns about the behavior of a child he raised with my boss. Any tips? – Biting the feeding hand

Dear BTFH,

Parent conferences can be uncomfortable on their own. Adding a tough social dynamic—like the parent who is your boss—creates a whole new level of terrifying.

The best way out is the most direct. You need to talk to your boss about his son’s behavior. Here are some tips on how to approach difficult conversations to help soften the blow:

  • Use the “sandwich” method. Start with what you love about the student, then move into the improvement section and finish on another positive note.
  • Approach him as a partner. Ask for their help, input, and insights to make it feel like a partnership working towards a solution, not bad news.
  • Set a follow-up time. Having a plan for future re-evaluation not only helps with accountability but also helps communicate your commitment to the process.

These could lead you to a conversation that starts like this:

“Thank you for meeting me today. I wanted to start by saying what a great kid Noah is. He is smart, ambitious and knows how to influence his classmates. It’s the last part I wanted to talk to you about. Sometimes I observe that leadership works out in a way that keeps him from doing his best or is disrespectful to me or his peers. I would hate if any of this would limit his social or academic opportunities. Is that something you see at home?”

In other words, even if this feels like the culmination of awkward meetings, treat it like any other parent conference—with respect, professionalism, and kindness.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
We don’t have assigned parking spaces at our school, but it’s an unspoken rule that the, um, older faculty members get the row of spaces closer to the building. I’ve kindly explained how it works to some of the newer teachers and they act like they get it, but day in and day out I still find their cars in places they don’t deserve. I know it’s silly, but it feels like they’re openly flouting a tradition the rest of us have honored for decades. Should I speak to the teachers again or to my principal? – Park Police

Dear PP,

I know how I would react, but I asked some of our readers to comment. Your answers covered some thoughtful aspects that I hadn’t considered. Check out what they had to say.

“As a seasoned teacher, I feel this in my heart… but my advice is to let it go. We want new teachers to stay. We want you to like it here. Let’s just take a few extra steps for them and not make it a thing.”

“It creates such a divisive work environment when there are these invisible rules. Park based on the order you arrive in, or let the admin take care of it if they see it as a real issue (e.g. an accessibility issue). Just because something is traditional doesn’t make it a necessary system.”

“It might be worth speaking to the Headmaster about why there is no allocated parking and whether it would be easier for everyone if allocated parking was put in place. There are so many things that teachers need to worry about and think about during any given day. Taking one stressor out of the equation could be a huge relief and eliminate potential disagreements among employees.”

“Instead of keeping this tradition, why not start a new one? Being a new teacher is harder than ever today, and this seemingly harmless tradition might actually make new teachers feel left out. Perhaps a teacher of the month could be voted on by staff and students, and that teacher gets the best parking spot!”

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I teach high school biology and I have a unique problem with one of my students. He’s great academically, but has a habit of derailing classes by spouting wild conspiracy theories during class (think lizard people). At first I thought he was being silly, but I really think he believes those stories. How do I get him to stop without distancing or offending him? Am I focusing on discrediting his theories or just making him a distraction? – Tired of conspiracies

dear cw,

I smile when I think of your tinfoil hat student. Curious, enthusiastic, bright and ebullient with the desire to set the record straight (even if his record is dead wrong). I have encountered this particular type of student many times in my work with G/T students.

Maintaining the relationship should always be your priority when speaking to this student. You don’t want to embarrass him, make him feel stupid, or kill his enthusiasm. Instead, connect and then redirect. Meet him where he is and help him see the value of channeling that enthusiasm.

Sometimes, when you have him alone, you say, “It can be really fun to think about conspiracy theories, right? I love the idea of ​​poking holes in something everyone else thinks is true, or uncovering a truth no one else knows. Here’s the thing, though: These types of discussions tend to distract everyone because they’re so exciting. This makes it difficult for me to teach and for students to learn. Can you help me find solutions to what is happening?”

Unless he’s concocting conspiracy theories that project harmful ideas about a certain group of people, I’d focus more on the distracting part of what he’s doing than on discrediting him. Someday he will find out.

Do you have a burning question? Email us at

Dear WeAreTeachers,
Yesterday a student I don’t even teach rushed in behind me and pushed me. I fell and turned to see a group of students filming me and laughing. Because the student says it was “just a TikTok scale,” this ninth grader walks away with no consequences. My AP said they had already learned their lesson about peer pressure! i feel like stop. Should I? – In a shove hate relationship

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