How To Deal With Difficult Teachers As A Principal

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How to deal with a difficult teacher — The Experienced Graduate | High ...

Standing Firm: A Principal’s Guide to Navigating Challenging Teachers

As a principal, I’ve encountered my fair share of difficult teachers. From those who are perpetually tardy to those who create a hostile work environment, dealing with these individuals can be a daunting task. However, with the right strategies and a firm but fair approach, it’s possible to address these challenges and maintain a positive and productive school culture.

Remember, every teacher brings unique strengths and weaknesses to the team. The key is to identify those areas where support is needed and provide it in a constructive and supportive manner.

Understanding the Causes of Difficult Behavior

Before taking any action, it’s crucial to understand the root cause of the teacher’s behavior. Are they struggling with personal issues? Is there a lack of training or support? Identifying the underlying factors will help you tailor your approach and provide the most effective support.

Addressing the Situation Directly

Once you have a better understanding of the situation, it’s time to address it directly with the teacher. Schedule a private meeting and clearly outline your concerns, providing specific examples of the behaviors that have been observed. Be professional, respectful, and avoid being accusatory. Instead, focus on the impact of their actions on students, colleagues, and the school environment.

During the meeting, give the teacher an opportunity to share their perspective and explain their reasons for the behavior. Listen attentively and try to understand their point of view. This will help you build rapport and create a collaborative atmosphere.

Developing a Plan for Improvement

Working together with the teacher, develop a plan for improvement that addresses the identified behaviors. Set clear goals, timelines, and expectations. This plan should be tailored to the individual’s needs and may include professional development, mentorship, or additional support from administrators or colleagues.

Providing Ongoing Support and Monitoring Progress

Regularly follow up with the teacher to monitor their progress and provide support. Be encouraging and offer assistance as needed. Celebrate successes and recognize improvements, no matter how small. If the teacher is not making adequate progress, you may need to consider additional interventions, such as counseling or a formal performance improvement plan.

Latest Trends in Dealing with Difficult Teachers

The field of education is constantly evolving, and so are the strategies for dealing with difficult teachers. Social media and online forums provide valuable insights from educators around the world. Here are a few recent trends:

  • Restorative Practices: Focus on repairing relationships and fostering a positive school climate.
  • Trauma-Informed Approaches: Recognize the role of trauma in shaping behaviors and create a safe and supportive environment.
  • Peer-to-Peer Support: Establish programs that connect teachers with mentors or colleagues for support and guidance.

Expert Advice for Principals

Based on my experience as a principal, here are a few tips for dealing with difficult teachers:

  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of all interactions, including meetings, conversations, and observations.
  • Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to other administrators, counselors, or HR for support and guidance.
  • Stay Calm and Professional: Even in challenging situations, it’s important to maintain a calm demeanor and avoid reacting emotionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if the teacher refuses to cooperate?

A: If the teacher is unwilling to engage in the improvement plan or continues to display problematic behaviors, you may need to consider more formal interventions, such as a performance improvement plan or a referral to the district’s human resources department.

Q: How can I deal with a difficult teacher who is a union member?

A: Be familiar with the union contract and follow all applicable procedures. Seek guidance from the district’s legal counsel or HR department to ensure that your actions are compliant with the contract and applicable laws.


Dealing with difficult teachers can be a challenging but necessary part of a principal’s responsibilities. By understanding the root causes of the behavior, addressing the situation directly, and providing ongoing support, you can create a positive and productive work environment for all. Remember, every teacher has the potential to be a valuable asset to your school, and with the right approach, even the most challenging individuals can be supported to improve their performance and make a positive impact on students.

Are you interested in learning more about how to effectively manage challenging teachers? Join our online community for principals, where you can connect with other educators, share strategies, and stay up-to-date on the latest research and trends.

You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do ...

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