My Open House night usually consists of a couple of parents coming to my office and discussing their concerns for upwards of 30 plus minutes each. Because my office is tucked away on the second floor, it is difficult to keep folks moving even when I have asked them to call me tomorrow or to schedule a future appointment with me. One year, years ago, a parent continued to talk to me LONG after Open House was over and everyone had left the building. My principal forgot to check on my that year:):) This has always bothered me because this is not what Open House night is for...I wanted to meet and chat with everyone!
So this year, I had a bright idea. I closed my office door and put a sign on it indicating where to find me. I set up a table by the front door, made a few really cute signs, had a bunch of handouts (including my business card), had some give-away chocolates, a notepad and pen, and planned to speak to a whole bunch of parents/guardians that evening. Many students came along with their parents and they introduced their parents to me. I had face-to-face meetings with a number of parents I've only "met" over the phone. I got to catch-up with quite a few parents/guardians and it was so great to see a number of faces that I haven't seen in awhile. Many took handouts and a few told me they'd be calling to chat soon. Most of the chocolate was gone...guess that's a good sign!
Regardless of the location, a few folks still wanted to talk extensively about concerns, etc. When I suggested that it wasn't a great place to talk and I would be happy to talk to them or meet with them at some other time, I was hit with resistance. A number of these folks didn't mind they were sharing confidential information with the whole school lobby or that they were consuming others' opportunity to say hello. I minded; I told them I minded and I told them it would be better to chat when I could give them my undivided attention. Didn't matter to some. The outcome, a number of parents/guardians walked on by and I didn't have the opportunity to say hello, introduce myself, or tell them how great their kids are. I really liked the location - a lot of foot traffic. So next year, my plan is to be firm about not being the right place or the right time... right from the beginning of their story.
Nonetheless, I am glad I made this sign to set by the basket of snack size Almond Joy candy bars. This is what I truly feel about my job and the work I do with students everyday. A message from my heart...