So, one of the first challenges I’m facing for next Fall’s pedagogical endeavors involves balancing the needs of my students with the demands of a new aspect to my job. To make a long story short, I took on a one-year stint as a 2/3 time administrator. I am keeping two offices: one in the administrative area for the Conservatory, and the one I’ve always had in the hallway with my professor-colleagues.
I am teaching only one course each semester. In the Fall, it’s a new-ish course for me that I’m excited and honored to teach. The course is the only section of Music Theory 1 that meets four days a week. The 16-18 students with the lowest scores on a rudiments exam take the course. Historically, students emerging from this class succeed in the remaining three semesters of the core music-theory curriculum.
My first dilemma is this: office hours. I love working in my office from 8-4:30, leaving the door open whenever possible. Students drop in for help. I have specific drop-in hours, but also let them know that they are welcome anytime the door is open. This semester, I can’t be in my academic office more than a few hours a day (if that). I’m not even sure how much I’ll be physically present in my dean-ing office (I fear I’ll be running around a lot to meetings and … meetings and … meetings). Furthermore, I could welcome them into my Dean-ing office, but there are a few doors and at least one wonderful, extremely friendly administrative assistant to get through before they get to me.
So. Access is a problem. Not to mention, some of the students who are placed into the four-day-a-week theory class will be shy about asking for help and/or less prepared to deal with the power structures of academia.
My dilemmas are these: when is the smartest time to place my office hours (in my academic office) to maximize the chance that students can come by? I could crowdsource the question. I could ask the students on day 1 of class (but they’re new to college, so they probably don’t know the rhythms of their days yet). Should I try to cultivate a class culture where they can come look for me in the dean-ing office? I’m pretty sure my dean-ing colleagues would be fine with that.