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    Principals
    By Robin

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    It's funny that we have a discussion on bullying amonst students in one thread and now a discussion on bullying teachers in this one...

    Bad principals, like many bad bosses, are bullies - but instead of beating you up at recess, they yell at you in the lunch room. The end result is the same. The same self-esteem problems you see in bullied students presents itself in bullied teachers.

    The unfortunate part is that bad principals are everywhere. What can you do?

    First, find out if you are alone. If no one else feels as you do, you may be a little too sensitive, or the principal may just dislike you specifically. If your school does yearly performance reviews, look to those to help you figure out which reason may apply to your case.

    If everyone agrees that this is a problem then you have to decide how to deal with the situation. You have a couple of choices.

    First, you can leave the school. That's the easiest and surest way to deal with it. It's also the least satisfying - especially if you like your school.

    The only other way to deal with it (that I have found) is to let him know that there is a problem and work together to find a solution. Most people don't see themselves as bad and in all likelihood he thinks that he is a wonderful principal.

    To do this, you will need to find a way to approach him in a way that is not accusatory and allows him to preserve his dignity. Keep in mind, the reason why he is difficult to deal with could be more than just a bad personality. Maybe he is having marital problems, health problems or a family crisis. Start with the assumption that he doesn't know how badly he is acting and that if he did, he would stop. Approach him with the same consideration you would if a friend had lipstick on her teeth. You want to let him know, but you don't want to make him feel foolish or threatened.

    To do this, you will need to have specific complaints and specific examples of bad behaviour. You can't walk into his office, tell him he is the source of anxiety with the staff and not be able to give him examples of his inappropriate behaviour. You also need to have the support of other teachers and staff. If he is going to change, he needs support from them to help.

    Once he understands the problem, you can work on helping him correct it. There are sensitivity training classes available for managers. Suggest (gently) that he might benefit from one. Let him know what he can do to help make the situation better. He has to see the possibility to make things right. If he doesn't, he won't be willing to do anything at all.

    Of course, all this is best case scenario. Some people are just mean and grumpy. I remember working for a guy when I was in college who was like that. It turned out that his wife was a shrew who nagged him day and night. The office approached him and he took sensitivity training. It helped for a while, but he went back to his old ways within about a year. Truth was, he was grumpy all the time because he was married to someone he didn't like. Until that changed, he would always be the same mean boss. I hope your situation isn't like that. With luck, your principal can change and make it stick.

    Good luck -- I hope this helps.



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