I intentionally made some time this summer to talk to a group of friends who were already administrators. I was looking for advice about how to best handle this coming school year: how could I minimize the mistakes I was inevitably going to make, and maybe even make a few good choices?
I got a lot of good advice, things I’m trying to do on a regular basis. Sometimes people have noticed the suggested actions and commented. That’s been a good thing, and something I owe my smart administrator friends for.
One of the pieces of advice I got – I don’t remember from whom right now, and my book of notes from these conversations isn’t with me at the moment – was that whenever a teacher walked into my office or walked by me in the hall and asked if I had a second, the answer was always yes. Not in a minute. Just yes. Now. Essentially, no matter what: barring an absolute emergency, this person said to always make time.
This is something I’ve tried to do: say yes when a teacher has a question or an issue. Make the time. I hope I’ve been reasonably successful at it.
On Tuesday, I had a student who I had checked in with about their attendance the previous week ask if we could chat at some point. I said sure.
You know where this is going.
Things happened. It was two days before I got back to the student. And they rightly called me out for it: why did it take two days for me to circle back to them? Good point. Then they went a step further: if it had been one of the higher risk students in the school, I wouldn’t have waited two days to chat with them. It would have happened right away. Good point number two.
Ouch. And dead on correct.
I apologized. Lesson learned, hopefully. But that’s something you can’t take back and undo. It’s also something that you can’t say you’re going to do. Like most of life, it is going to be something I am going to have to show – with my actions, not my words – that I am willing to do: make time for teachers AND students when they ask for it.
Now. Not in two days.