Everyone has their own particular way of doing things—but occasionally, principals’ pet peeves take it to the next level.
A friend of mine shared with me that her previous principal had a peculiar obsession with blue pens. Specifically, the teachers had to use blue pens while marking students’ papers or providing feedback. Not too bright, not too dull, just the right shade of “serene.” The rationale behind this principal’s pet peeve was that it supposedly “soothed students’ minds” when reading the feedback on their mistakes. Although I had heard this before, this principal went to the extent of buying all the teachers the same blue-colored pens!
This led me to wonder …
What other principal pet peeves are out there?
This Reddit teacher describes their principal’s obsession with the thin napkins in spork packets:
“I’ll start. Our principal is obsessed with ‘Napkins out first’ at lunch. For context, I teach at a K-8 school. The napkins in question are thin napkins that come in a plastic-wrapped pack with a straw and spork. Oftentimes children won’t take a spork pack because they only have finger food but my principal insists that they need to go get one so they can have their napkins open next to them in case there are any ’emergency spills.’ Like she is constantly scolding children for not taking their napkins out before they start eating. Most of the time kids don’t even use it, but according to her it’s for ‘just in case.’ It infuriates me to see so many unused plastic sporks, straws, napkins, and plastic wrappers being thrown away because she can’t get over this rule. Multiple teachers have asked her why or have pushed back but she refuses to budge and gets upset when we don’t enforce it.”
Interestingly, this thread had plenty of responses from teachers with their own stories of their principals’ pet peeves:
No talking at lunch 😳
Anyone else have a Miss Trunchbull flashback reading this one?
Digital tracking on potty breaks
Can you imagine all the students too nervous to go to the bathroom because they know it’s going to bother their parents? Yikes!
Teachers tracking potty breaks
I initially assumed the article was about pre-K but was surprised to find out it was about 7th and 8th graders. What?!
Or no potty breaks at all!
Next on the agenda: training students to synchronize their thirst with the water fountain schedule!
No tiny paper clips
Again, I am thinking about all the time this principal must have on their hands to be picky about paper clip size … yikes!
No more subs
Yeah, this isn’t the way.
No capri pants
Capri aversion? Pet peeve for denim? Maybe being too tall just really hit her some type of way.
No jeans EVER
I’ve been ITCHING to calculate a correlation of student test scores and teacher dress code policies … I think some principals would be shocked at the results!
Word walls … in high school
Because nothing screams “engaging education” quite like staring at a wall of vocabulary for high school kids, huh?
A uniquely ineffective redirection strategy
This one ranks up there in weird pet peeves. I bet the students crinkle their noses at this one as much as those crinkled napkins!
No spray-on sunscreen
Ha! I laughed out loud at this one. It’s OK for the students to spontaneously combust into sunblock supernova but not the teachers. …
No “No running!”
I know we’re supposed to encourage what they can do and not bring up what they can’t do, but can you imagine yelling “Use your walking feet!” at the height of an incident in the hallway?
No sitting allowed
This sounds like a modern twist on the old-fashioned rule of standing up whenever someone enters the room, doesn’t it? Except in this case, it’s adults standing for children. All. Day. Long.
OK, this one seems like an oddly specific principal pet peeve.
No sneakers without a doctor’s note
So, the same people who stand up and perform all day don’t get to wear comfortable shoes?
As teachers we often find ourselves chuckling and shaking our heads in amusement at some of the peculiar things that principals do. Some principals’ pet peeves are harmless, adding a quirky shade to the range of color in our school lives. Others range from counterproductive to insulting and indicate a principal who might be a little out of touch with the needs of their staff.
One thing that’s clear? Acknowledgment goes a long way. “I know this is a weird ask, but …” makes a weird ask way more understandable.