OFFICE HOURS

If there are 120 members of the faculty at Knox, there are 120 approaches to how to schedule and conduct office hours. Some faculty appear to live in their offices and others are only available by appointment. Some faculty prefer a set schedule; others respond whenever called. Setting boundaries is up to you and there isn't a competition.

In the office Fixed office hours provide you and the students a specified time when you are available without them having to ask for time and without you having to completely disrupt your schedule every time they need you. It's a time students can depend on finding your door open and their needs your first priority. (Some faculty keep their door closed at other times, while others keep the door open whenever they're in the office. It's up to you, and how well you work with interruptions). Post your hours on your office door and include them on your syllabi.  You might also want to have a message board or pad of paper handy to your door, so students can leave you notes and request appointments should they not find you in.

It is common to have two or three periods of office hours spread over the week. It's helpful if your office hours have some variation in the period scheduled, as students will inevitably have conflicts. Some faculty who anticipate a steady stream of students asking for help schedule more time. Others schedule less on a regular basis, but then schedule large blocks of extra time before a paper or other large assignment is due. A sign-up sheet on the door may help if you expect to have more than a couple of students coming by, and is especially helpful during the two weeks in the middle of the term when advisees come in for pre-registration for the next term. When students ask to see you, suggest they drop by your office hours before giving them an appointment for a different time.

Try to keep distractions to a minimum when in conference with a student. You might let voice mail answer calls (you can easily set up your phone to have all calls forwarded without a ring) or quickly arrange to call back.

Students will seek you out for a multitude of reasons. They may want advice on academics, scheduling, career planning, and sometimes they need life advice. Faculty do a fair amount of counseling and you need to be sensitive to when you are dealing with an average issue of young adulthood and when you may need to suggest or recommend professional help. You may also find it useful to discuss a student with colleagues who have taught the same student. The student's advisor can also be a resource. (You can find out who this is from the Registrar's or the Associate  Dean's office.) In the event of a serious concern, talk to the Associate Dean of the College or the Dean of Students. (See section on "Student Problems" for a more detailed discussion.)

Other venues Sometimes it's nice to get out of the office and see students in a more informal setting. One certainly shouldn't feel obligated to engage students in this manner, but here are suggestions for those who sometimes get to feeling hemmed in and office bound.

On campus The Gizmo at any time and the Oak Room at lunch time both make for productive meeting places. Some faculty have weekly roundtables in either or both locations at which students drop in on an informal basis and where topics are random. Others have roundtables which are more regulated and devoted to specific topics (language tables, for instance.) Some faculty hold an office hour or two a week in the Gizmo and some regularly conduct appointments and conferences there.

Off campus There are various local haunts convenient for an off campus coffee (though be sensitive to students who may feel uncomfortable meeting off campus). These excursions can help foster mentoring relationships and encourage conversations beyond the usual range of class and Knox. Many faculty find these occasions particularly productive when working with upper class students. Occasionally student/teacher boundaries can get blurred under these circumstances--and to a degree, this is the point--but faculty need to be conscious of the outer limits. (See the Faculty Handbook or Student Handbook for the college policy on amorous relations.) Some places to go: Cherry Street, Coney Island, the Landmark, Innkeepers (see the Restaurant Guide for addresses).

Or you might want to go for a walk or sit outside. Stroll around campus or walk in the park just north of Old Main. You might arrange to meet several students out at Green Oaks or Lake Storey.

Calls at home or to cell: Let students know what your policy is on being called at home or on your cell. For some faculty it's "only in a dire emergency"; for others it's "any time except between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m."