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I'm Not a Difficult Principal, Honest!

16 years 3 months ago #141345 by peanut
As a PTO president, I appreciate your openness. I agree with all that has been said in prior responses and I wish to add a few items of my own.

In regard to you feeling blindsided by issues at PTO meetings, I truly believe you need to talk openly with the Board about this. This may very well be a miscommunication or a misunderstanding. I would think (hope) that your board is not trying to blindside you in front of other parents. From my experience this year, parents bringing up issues that were not on the agenda have blindsided myself & my board. Unfortunately for all of us on our board, we have been hit with topics we did not expect to be thrown at us. We were quite surprised and very uneducated to the topics/concerns that were brought up. I felt blindsided as much as our principal was blindsided. We had no prior knowledge that this was going to occur. I then asked when I was able to break in without appearing too rude for these parents to please allow us to continue to finish out PTO meeting, since this item was not something PTO would be involved in, and when it was done---they could ask questions as they see fit privately. But not knowing your situation---I can only offer the suggestion to ask them. If your board is like ours---we are very open and honest. If you were my principal---I would love for you to come to me and voice your concerns and questions. This opens the lines of communication. It amazing to me how 1 thing can be turned into something else by the facts not being known. And you may be pleasantly surprised to find out that your board, has no idea of your concerns or that they are making you feel blindsided by issues. Or your PTO parents may be blindsiding them as well as you.

Now if they are doing this on purpose---that is a completely different issue. Then I can only offer the suggestion that school will be over in about 4 months and the board will most likely change.:) And you can meet with the new members to form a great working relationship.

I hope this helps and good luck.
16 years 3 months ago #141340 by Ieduk8
Replied by Ieduk8 on topic RE: I'm Not a Difficult Principal, Honest!
I agree with posted comments.

We have a good respectfully relationship with our principal. I feel comfortable disagreeing with him in a private meeting or an executive board meeting. We negotiate on items and sometimes agree to disagree. But he too likes to present a united front at open meetings. He likes for me to choose my words carefully, to present items in the most positive light possible (even when it takes some spin to figure how the newest problem is really an opportunity for growth, etc...), basically to be a good leader. Leaders try to unite their members and to avoid unnessesary controversy. That is the qualities of a good principal, a good manager, or a good PTO leader.

An honest conversation with your board is needed.
16 years 3 months ago #141297 by my3strongtikes
This has been a great thread and it seems sometimes that the principals get a bad rap,but I know now that there are PTO's working together.
I have never had any problems with our new principal nor our last one. Not to say that issues haven't come up. But we have always worked together on them. Her helping me, me helping her, giving a heads up when parents are having a problem with something and they have always done the same for me.
My philosophy has always been that yes we are a pto and seperate, but we have one common goal the school. So I would never ambush a manager at my work place or not ask them about having an event, whatever the issue might be.
I think your expectations are totally on target. Maybe you can set up a meeting date with them and let them know you are there for them and the door is always open, and what some of your expectations are. That may get the ball rolling and get it going in the right direction.

Note to add I would never put something on the agenda that I thought in any way would catch the principal off guard without telling them or asking them beforehand. And same as someone else said when a topic is brought up like that I tell them its not on the agenda and we or the principal could talk latter.

Thanks for posting welcome to the boards.

Cindy<br />
<br><br />
<br>____________________________________________<br />
<br>&quot;People have the right to be stupid, but some abuse the privelege.&quot;
16 years 3 months ago #141255 by PresidentJim
To me, this problem sounds as though the PTO President of your school is not doing her job properly. IMO, an agenda for the upcoming meeting should always be sent out, at least a few days before the meeting. This provides all an opportunity to ask for something to be added to the agenda and/or to know what is going to be discussed.

Next, IMO, certain topics do not belong at the PTO meeting. Many of which might cause the types of concerns that you are bringing up. As President it is my job, or at least I see it that way, to control the meetings. If a topic is brought up that was not on the agenda then it is my responsibility to ensure that it is PTO business. Some parents (usually non-active PTOers) believe that a PTO meeting is a forum to blindside the Principal. I am very against this type of behavior. Luckily it has only happened one or two times and each time I allowed the Principal to respond as he wished and then I cut in to explain that this topic is NOT PTO business and that I am sure that the Principal would be open to discussing the topic privately.

I would recommend communication with your PTO President. Ask her if she could provide the agenda for the meeting a couple of days before, and that if anything other than what is on the agenda at that time gets added for her to let you know. This way if you know of a topic that appears as though it may be controversal, you can discuss it with her and/or her executive board, prior to the meeting. Giving them the insight into your answers/reasoning and trying to get their buy-in will only help prevent these types of topics from getting out of hand.

16 years 3 months ago #141252 by dlf
Ditto everything above. I think too that some folks just don't have experience playing in a cooperative environment where team is not spelled with an "I". It is important to emphasize at the start of the year the "Do unto others" aspect of meetings and interactions and would suggest the type of meeting Tim is discussing up front to ensure the board understands the professional standards of interaction that will make you all successful. I never let my principal walk into a minefield--because she's my prinicipal and I feel a sense of loyalty there. She as well would never slam dunk me in front of the parents because we get "it". "It" being that I have earned her respect and she has mine but the bottom line is we operate in her school...and I respect her authority...THAT sets the tone for cooperation and negotiation with our parents at all levels.

Good luck and welcome to the boards. There's all sorts of fresh air that has rushed in with this post!
16 years 3 months ago #141249 by Rockne
Really good thread. Thanks for posting it.

I too think your expectations are fair, but -- as a former administrator and current parent group leader -- I'd caution you against expecting all parents (and even parent group leaders) to understand those expectations automatically.

As I'm sure you know parents and parent group leaders come in all styles. (Just as principals do...). As a principal who gets it, what can you do systematically to help your parent leaders understand how you and they can best work together? How about when elections take place, you do spend an hour or half a day meeting with the new board going over these types of things? A lot of parents may not understand why some of those things that you think are so important are so important.

Can you help the leaders put in place policies or standing rules of some sort that make things even more clear?

You're doing things just right, in my opinion, by trying to allow both the reality and the perception of independence. That doesn't mean that you can't use your inter-personal and leadership skills to guide how that independent entity works.

Frankly, it's the same advice I give to a good parent group leader trying to deal with a difficult principal -- how can you use all your devices to wind up at the best result?

Thanks for your support of parent involvement. And good luck in your important work.


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