I feel reasonably assured that being accessible is a key ingredient to effective parenting, meaningful teaching and learning, and comprehensive leadership, and I have really good intentions…it’s being human that gets in my way occasionally!
Now, I do a decent job. Not to mention that when I apologize to people I serve for being short or overtly showing frustration in my communications with them they often tell me that they didn’t notice (either they’re being nice or we truly are harder on ourselves that others are on us). Regardless, I feel like I’ve been issuing more of those types of apologies in the past week than I have in a long time. It’s extremely easy to sacrifice accessibility during extremely busy moments. When you work in a school community, all moments are extremely busy!
There is ebb and flow in education. One of the great things about professional teaching and learning (as an educator or a student) is that between the really intense times there are times custom made for reflection, relaxation, and recharging. But right now, at the start of a new school year, and during the weeks preceding that start, it seems to be mostly ebb and very little flow.
Ironically, during a time when building administrators are maxed out with independent organizational work like hiring, scheduling, and preparing our schools for the joyful inflow of teachers, students, and parents, our time is in highest demand from those we serve. Each member of our respective community is in the throws of his/her own preparations, and each one truly needs our attention. At the very least, they each need us to listen carefully, care genuinely, and respond compassionately!
It’s not always easy to do the right things, even when I know that they’re right. Every so often, my Assistant Superintendent calls just to say “hi” and ask if there’s anything she can to help. There’s no way I’m as busy as she is, but somehow, the calls keep coming. Debi is one of the most joyful people I know, her energy is positive and progressive, and she stresses partnerships in everything she does. Yesterday, during one such call, she reminded me that perfection is not the aim. She stressed that we are in it together, and that as we move through our individual and collective journeys this year, we’re here for one another. A wonderful message to hear from your boss, but beyond that, the message was delivered in a calm and sincere way.
I’m guessing that at moment she dialed my number, Debi had a line of people standing outside her door, a multitude of “to do” sticky notes arranged around her computer monitor, and several dozen “call back” message slips on her desk. Still, she was calm, considerate, and reassuring. I am one of many stakeholders who look to our central office administrative team for leadership and guidance. I’m confident that Debi and her team contact each one periodically, and I’m equally confident that they reach out to each one with the same energy that Debi reached out to me with yesterday…energy laden with service intent and partnership overtones.
Again, I do a decent job of being accessible, and I focus on growth at every turn. As my incredible community of partners in education is on the cusp of coming together, I pledge to push myself every-harder in the direction of compassionate accessibility. And when I find myself stepping away from some “very important” task, or taking the time to listen with a clear mind and an open heart, or to share moments of teaching and learning without distraction, I will do so with joy and enthusiasm.
I will focus on doing so ever-better in each moment. I’ll think of communications like yesterday’s phone call, and I’ll work hard to remember that worrying about where else I need to be or what else I need to be doing, while I’m supposedly engaged in conversation, diminishes that engagement and negates the wonderful growth benefits of genuine accessibility. Also, I’ll remember that perfection is not the aim, and I’ll continue to forgive myself during “human” moments, with the caveat that forgiveness only works when it’s coupled with positive progress!
Live. Learn. Lead.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Well.