Help! I Brought My Coat to a Meeting and My Boss Said I’m “Setting a Bad Example”

“When I asked why, he said because it ‘looks like I want to go home’ and people at school look to me as a leader.”

Illustration of a teacher who can't bring coat to meeting with faculty


Dear WeAreTeachers,
We have a monthly after-school faculty meeting that usually runs about an hour. After our last faculty meeting, my principal stopped me on my way out and asked if I could keep my purse and coat in my classroom from now on. When I asked why, he said it’s because it “looks like I want to go home” and people at school look to me as a leader. What do I do with this absolutely bonkers request? —Deep Coat

Dear D.C.,

I’m going to make a wild assumption here, so bear with me. I’m guessing that like other human beings with responsibilities that extend outside of school, you bring your coat and purse because you need to attend to those responsibilities upon the meeting’s conclusion? You do not live at school, correct?

Unless you are jangling your keys in the principal’s face during the meeting or are bundled up for the entire meeting with all your winter gear on (a la Joey), I don’t see what’s wrong with having your stuff with you. So, much like how marriage arguments are rarely about the actual dishes, I suspect that this is about more than your outerwear.


Explain to your principal why it makes sense to take your belongings with you. Explain, too, that you want be a positive leader. Ask (gently and with curiosity, not snark) if there are other ways your principal has seen you have a negative effect on staff, or if this is an isolated incident.

Though your principal certainly should have taken the initiative for a professional conversation themselves sooner, asking them directly might open the lines of communication to get to the heart of the matter.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
Sometimes I feel spread so thin between my job, parenting, and other responsibilities that I have a hard time organizing myself during my prep time. What is the best way to get done what I need during prep time and prioritize my work? —Stressed in Pinecrest

Dear S.I.P.,

First, accept that a teacher’s to-do list is always evolving. There’s always more work to do, always places in your teaching you could hone or update, always things to clean or organize or declutter. That sounds depressing, but it’s also kind of freeing. You’ll never check off everything, so focus on what you can do during your prep period.

Our WeAreTeachers team rounded up some great tips to make the most of your prep time:

Eliminate distractions: If you really need to charge through several tasks, adjust digital notifications so you’re not getting pinged constantly. Consider locking your door during your planning period or getting a sign you can put up to redirect people temporarily. If someone needs you right then, they’ll call your office phone.

Prioritize your tasks: Looking at a to-do list can feel impossible when it’s a hundred things long. Instead, sort the tasks into three categories. The things you need to do today, by the end of the week, and when you get a chance. Then, within those categories, you can pick which make the most sense to tackle and when.

Give yourself a break: Don’t forget that this is one of your only chances to catch your breath during the day. Even if you just take a few minutes, it’s worth it. Gulp in some fresh air outside. Put on a meditation podcast or nature sounds, and turn off your fluorescent lights for a bit. Do do some chair yoga (I did pose #4 from this website today and was blown away by how much my neck and back needed it).

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I live down the street from one of my students and made the mistake of offering his parents to give him a ride to school every day. Some days he’s ready and watching for me, but most days I’m waiting in the driveway for between 5 and 10 minutes. How do I undo this offer without souring my relationship with the parents and the student? —Driving Myself Nuts

Dear D.M.N.,

I don’t think you need to undo the offer, necessarily. But I would check with your administration to see whether they’re OK with this arrangement for several reasons. A regular meeting space alone with no other witnesses? An every day potential for an accident? These sound like liabilities any district would want to avoid. And if they put the kibosh on the operation, you won’t have to. “I’m so sorry, but I mentioned our carpooling arrangement to my principal and he said I can’t pick up David anymore. It’s against district policy.”

“Sorry, my mom said no” is often the easiest (and truest) way out.

Do you have a burning question? Email us at

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’ve always been happy to share my lessons with my partner teacher, especially since this is only her second year. Recently, however, I discovered one of my activities on Teachers Pay Teachers. After some digging, I found she has uploaded nearly all of my lessons and is selling the resources I created for between $5 and $15. I’m livid. What do I do? —Hi I’d Like to Report an Intellectual Burglary

This week on Ask WeAreTeachers, we cover "I can't bring my coat to a meeting?", how to maximize your prep period, and a rookie mistake.