Last semester I asked my residents what I could do to be a better RA. Most of them said that I was the best RA ever and needed to stay exactly the same because I’m perfect (kidding). But for the most part, my residents seemed fairly content with what I’ve been doing as an RA which made me super happy. However some of my residents told me that they’ve knocked on my door or have been looking for me and didn’t know where I was. Some of them even suggested that I get a door stop so that they could know when I was in my room.
So I did.
Well my RD did. She got door stops for some of my staff members and me and that was pretty rad of her. Anyway so for the last week or so I’ve had my door open basically every time that I’ve been in my room and I’ve noticed some things.
- Increased awareness of what’s going on in my hallway.
Since my room is right smack in the middle of the hall way, whenever anyone gets in or out of the elevator I can hear and see it, which is really cool. Mostly because I’m pretty nosy and whenever I hear the elevator coming I try to guess who it is, as well as say hi! Also when it gets closer to quiet hours I can always poke my head out and see who is making a ruckus, but my residents are fairly conscious of quiet hours so I only have to get on them once or twice a semester.
- Seeing the “secret residents” that walk by.
One of my new semester goals was to get to know my “secret residents” more, aka the ones that don’t really hang out around the building much, or spend a lot of time in their rooms. And this has totally helped! Now I can catch them on their way to and from the elevator and personally invite them to my programs and just talk to them in general. Hopefully if they feel like they can be easily integrated into the community and come out of their shell.
- Talking to my residents more.
This is a definite plus. Today I was working on some RA things and mentioned to my resident that one of the clothing stores in town were having a flash sale on long sleeved t-shirts (one of my weakness) and she got really excited and it ended up being a mini floor trip because my resident and her roommate invited someone else on the floor to go and we all had a great time. Leaving my door open lets my residents pop in for five or so minutes at a time and it is a little surprising how five minutes can change things. I’ve already been fairly close to my residents and I try to make time for them, but seeing them every day and checking up on them has really strengthened my relationship with them. There’s some fun in the spontaneity of not knowing who is going to pop into my room next!
- Paying more attention to how I spend my time in my room.
While I’m in my room with the door open, I’m more conscious that I need to be setting a good example to my residents. Even if they only see me in passing, whatever I’m doing at the moment will stick with them for a little bit. So if they see me consistently being productive, studying, and using my time well then they might be more influenced to do the same with their time. Plus it reinforces all the things that I try to tell my residents about time management and working hard to get good grades.
- Being easily distracted.
This is one of the few cons of leaving my door open. Every time I hear voices or the elevator I feel compelled to look at who it could be. Sometimes this causes me to lose my train of thought or take a little longer to complete a task that should only take me 30 minutes. This is especially true when residents come into my room and stay longer than expected, I don’t want them to feel un-welcomed so I just kind of wait until they feel like leaving to continue working. However, this can be easily solved if I just close my door when I need to get down to business.