6 Tips for Talking With the Principal

Use these ideas to work more effectively with your school administrator.

by Emily Graham


No matter how many great ideas you have for your PTO or PTA, you need the support of the principal to make them happen. It’s important to establish a good working relationship with your school’s principal and to be well-prepared for any conversations or meetings you have together.

Understand the principal’s goals. Ideally, principals and parent groups should work together to support the school. Find out the principal’s goals for the school year and ask about ways your group can help.

Show respect for the principal’s time. Ask the principal or her assistant for a good time to talk. Estimate how long the conversation will take. Indicate if you will need 10 minutes or 30 minutes.

Spread the word—schools thrive because of hard-working parent groups

Prepare for the meeting. Write a list of topics you want to cover. Email the list to the principal before the meeting, if possible. Be prepared to discuss details.

Ask for input. Tell the principal about what the PTO has planned, but also ask for feedback. You may find out important information you can use to improve your plans, especially if the principal has been at the school for many years.

Keep a good attitude. The principal may not be as enthusiastic about your ideas as you are, and there will probably be times he says no. Remember that it’s not personal. Principals have to consider the perspectives of parents, teachers, and district officials, as well as how the plans may affect instructional time. Stay positive and find other ways your group can support the school.

Follow up. Send an email that recounts the main points of conversation from the meeting and any decisions that were made. An email record of the meeting can be especially helpful weeks or months later, when the discussion is no longer fresh in your minds. Be sure to thank the principal for her time.

Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly.

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