Wednesday, May 18, 2011
My closed door policy
I love this time of year.
But as exciting as this time of year might be, I always need to be cognizant of the fact that there can be a great deal of angst in the building. Some of our students are starting to see the writing on the wall that they may not be successful in a particular course, and are wondering how they are going to turn it around. Staff are curious as to what their teaching assignments are going to look like for the fall, and others are wondering where or whether they are going to have jobs. Some are considering retirement, a decision that seems so easy to make on those dog days in November, but is not quite so easy when the time actually comes to make that huge decision. Kids are tired and teachers are tired at a time of year when the energy demands are never higher.
I was walking down the hall this morning when one of our faculty approached me and said that I was "a hard guy to get a hold of" because "my door was always closed". I immediately apologized, and expressed my regret for not having been able to see him for the last couple of days. He quickly turned to me and said "No, sometimes it's your job is to close the door with people.". He smiled, and walked away.
Reflecting on his comment, I have needed to close my door with people over the last couple of days. A staff member has a sick family member, and needed to chat. Another had some fabulous ideas for a program at our school. Someone was tired and frustrated, and just needed to vent. And yet another was describing how difficult that final retirement decision was to make when they were actually confronted with it. A parent needed some reassurance for them and their child in contemplating a move to our school. An alumnus stopped by to tell me how they were doing in their third year of university. At one point I had three staff members in my office to chat about teaching options for next year, two more outside the door at the same time to ask about our upcoming PD day, and my cell phone ringing and my office phone ringing at the same time. We all laughed.
At the end of the day, it is easy for us to beat ourselves up about not being in classes as much as we like, or being visible. I wish that I could be out and about so much more than I am. However, there are times when where we are needed most is behind closed doors. To be a sounding board. To be an ear. To be a shoulder.
So every once in a while, I hope it's OK to have a closed door policy. Not all of the time, but every once in a while.