Why I Close My Door

A couple months ago, I posted about Why I Keep My Door Open. It was nice to notice about myself, and got some nice feedback from those who read this blog. Thanks to those of you who read it and talked with me about it.

But I have to remember that, while I’m here to provide a caring, warm, safe environment for my students, I’m also here to teach them academic subjects. Some might say that’s my primary role. Some might disagree with that, and there’s a discussion worth having there (sort of the “I teach English” v. “I teach students” debate). But regardless of where that role is, it’s nonetheless a hugely important one.

So I reminded my students that I am available for them to come by and get any extra help they need. I gave them the times I’m available, one of which was before school every day. I come in at around 7; school starts at 8:10. They have time to see me if they need to.

Nobody really took advantage of this. A few dropped in here and there, but nobody made an appointment.

But today, I had a student in. His mom and I arranged a standing 15-minute session every Tuesday morning, just to touch base and cement some of the things he struggles with. It’s been working pretty well.

Normally, when I help him, I ask any other students in the room to give us some space while we do our work. This is easily accomplished, as my classroom is a double room, so they could be 30 feet away and still in the safe morning environment they have.

So then I thought: what if I didn’t do that today? What if I gave this student and his academic needs the respect he and they deserve? And what if I showed that to my other students?

So I told my students they had to get out. I had an appointment to help a student. They left. I closed the door. I heard them tell other students who tried to come in “we have to stay out here; Mr. Wyzlic’s helping someone.”

I wasn’t sure how that would go. Would they be upset they didn’t have that place they normally go? Would they understand that, because I’m a math teacher, sometimes math will supersede their morning hangout place?

They went one better: they saw a chance to be respected.

They guarded my doors, not letting any students in, so we wouldn’t be disturbed while we worked. And today, during class, three of the students who often are around in the morning asked me, individually, if they could come in in the morning to get some help.

“Of course,” I replied, with a smile.

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