A group of kids have lunch in my classroom almost every day. Some of them are my students and some are their friends, people I don’t even know. The energy is always loud, fun, and festive.  Lunch is also typically a time for make-up tests, extra tutoring, or just coming by to talk to the old man.  But constantly being available to students, parents, or colleagues can be draining and can, in the long run, rob me of the ability to do my best. 

Remembering to sometimes shut the door helps me remember to be still, be social with my peers or, at the very least, recharge my batteries.  On Wednesdays, for example, I have lunch with a colleague in my department.  We used to do coffee in the morning, but when our schedules changed, we agreed on lunch once a week.

And on Fridays, I have lunch with another group of teachers. In both cases, we compare notes, share stories, have a few laughs.  The kids who eat in my room know my schedule and understand that on those days my door will be shut.  So the next time things get a little stressful or tense, remember that it’s okay to give yourself a break, to shut the door.  

Good teachers are accessible to their students; they’re open, friendly, and welcoming.  But a Zen teacher also understands the importance of The Shut Door.

It takes courage, but you’ll soon realize that, if you occasionally shut the door, you’ll be able to open it again, later, more widely than before.  TZT