The flight attendant comes over the loudspeaker, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are preparing for landing. Please fasten your seat belt and make sure all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you.” It can be one of the scariest parts of a flight: the landing.
You get sucked back in your seat as you go from 30,000 feet in the air to looking out the window and the ground is there again. As you hurtle to the ground, you hope that it will be a safe and gentle landing and realize your destination is just moments away! As the school year winds down, we can learn from the flight attendants preparing for the landing how to end the year on a high note.
Just as the flight attendants come over the loudspeaker to gently remind the passengers the ride is coming to an end, we want to remind our students and ourselves that the end of the year will soon be upon us. We can make sure that we are finalizing organizational succession plans and the incoming executive boards have the material they need to be successful.
If end of the year evaluations are done, we can begin scheduling and completing those to see where the students grew over the previous year and how we can help them continue to grow even more in the coming years. As budgets get tighter and tighter, we also can make sure that we are crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s on our departmental reports to be able to show how impactful of a year we had on our students.
The idea of having to turn your technology off can be such a foreign concept to us. It is helpful to be forced into mindfulness as the descent happens. We can no longer have our noses stuffed in our laptop working on this project or that meeting agenda. A quick chat with our neighbor, a few moments to close your eyes or just a time to take a few quick deep breaths gives us the opportunity to take care of ourselves before the graduations, evaluations and other obligations all come rushing in.
Finally, as the passengers exit the plane, the flight attendants are kindly waiting by the exit with a smile on their face giving them good wishes as they continue on their journeys. Similarly, as our seniors graduate, we stand by the exits and thank them for all the hard work they have done for us over the years.
It’s one of the best and worst things about working in higher education. If you have a bad employee, they are eventually going to (hopefully) graduate and go on their way. But, the same happens with the best employees. Everyone moves on at some point, whether we like it or not. We take a little time to tidy up, only to have our next set of passengers arrive and get ready for the ride ahead!