The first dilemma in a new juggling act

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.

6 thoughts on “The first dilemma in a new juggling act

  1. Crazy idea but maybe think about Twitter – you could tweet when you where be where and for how long? Not good for advance planning but may encourage students to come and find you

  2. I remember being most likely to stop by office hours that happened somewhere around 3-4 – I rarely had classes in that time slot but was usually out and about.

    • thank you both! Romi, I don’t think I’m ready to fight the joys of another social media platform, but I’ll definitely keep it in mind. Erin–that’s very helpful. It turns out there’s a really easy way for the students to schedule appointments with me in the Dean’s office without talking to anyone (Google Calendar’s schedule appointments feature) and that might open up accessibility beyond my Kohl building office hours.

        • hmmm… I just checked. I don’t see it on my google calendar feature, but I wonder if it’s something that’s been enabled through oberlin.edu vs. gmail.com… I’ll ask around at work tomorrow…

          • Found it! You have to be logged into your gmail academic account in order for it to work when you set the times up. I usually live in my gmail.com account, not my official school account…

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