Thursday, November 10, 2011

Teaching moment

I know that the part of my teaching duties that I am best at is office hours. I also know that office hours is the least attended part of my teaching duties.

I wish I could announce on the first day of any class that I am at my best as a teacher when I'm working on a 1 on 1 basis, or 1 on few basis. Therefore, if you want to get a lot out of this class, come to office hours. Somehow, I don't think that would fly.

Instead, I try every way I can think of (short of handing out food*) to get people to come to my office hours, and I encourage students to give me frequent feedback during the term.

My office hours attendance is still low, but I think I'm making progress. The students of several classes get a chance to meet with the department chair to give feedback on the classes. The students from one of my classes was in the list this term, and I heard from the chair that I am the most approachable professor in the department.

This usually translates to lots of students following me back to my office after lecture on the day the problem set is due to ask questions, but does nothing for official office hour attendance. Yesterday, I finally had a student get it. She announced that she would get most of her homework done over the weekend so she can ask me questions during my office hours, instead of stressing  for the few hours between class and the due time.

* The most blatant example of this I've heard of is a professor in NYC holding office hours in a cafe during dinner, and buying dishes of food for whoever shows up to ask questions/listen. It struck me as a bit extreme, though it was effective.

No comments:

Post a Comment