The School Traffic Controller
Aug 01, 2020
School Traffic Controller
Buses, cars, and vans all funneling into designated routes for departures and arrivals. Passengers lugging backpacks, instrument cases, lunch boxes, and more. Announcements. Commotion. People moving faster than the average person can jog, with fixed stares. Others chatting and laughing loudly. Numerically labeled entrances. Queues of people.
Some move nervously. Others seem at ease.
Mrs. Sanchez is the former, and she looks so lost.
The school office administrator, Carla, spots that look as easy as middle schoolers find free wifi. Carla walks up to her, smiles, and offers some soothing words. Mrs. Sanchez gives her son a big hug and as she leaves, she looks over her shoulder and mouths, “thank you” to Carla.
Most of the school community is used to Carla’s warmth and calm presence; these habits are well-practiced and very intentional. Carla, herself, has been a parent in a new school and the empathy certainly isn’t difficult to muster.
“Like ants moving purposely to and from their hills, right?” It's Michael’s mom.
“Not a big fan of insects!” Carla laughed.
“You must feel like an air traffic controller half your day!?”
“Ha, I like that! School Traffic Controller. I’m going to ask for some new cards,” Carla smiles back.
Have you ever been late for a flight? What do you say in your mind (or even aloud) when you realize that security is ten times longer than you had planned for? How do you handle your flight being delayed and missing a connection?
This COVID school year will see new habits and protocols being necessary. Clear procedures and a kind voice will be powerful when anyone enters the building nervously. Anyone working in a school or an airport can be a difference-maker and provide that moment of calm clarity that changes the narrative for the person who walks through the doors more than a little tightly wound.
Smiling and asking, “Would you like a little help?” doesn’t require training and kindness can be wonderfully contagious in crowded places.
Tough times sure do require a ton of empathy in our leadership. Regardless if we are a teacher, secretary, parent volunteer, or administrator, we all have it in us to choose a kind voice and like Carla, be that warm demander leader.