Often the syllabus for courses is an exercise in formality of creating a document that we are required to make and ensure students are aware of its existence. Very rarely do the students actually read the document until they find a motivation to go back and look at it.
I wrote about engagement before and how important that is. In my experience I have had the best success in reaching my shy students by getting to know them at some personal level. I like to ask questions like “where did they go to high school”, “what sports do you play”, “what do you read”.
I used to set my office hours and really not be concerned about promoting them beyond the obligatory publishing the available hours in my course syllabus.
The video here (courtesy of PHD Comics which I highly recommend) is something any teacher or teaching assistant can identify with. We’ve all had this experience and we do our best to not have our head explode while in this scenario.
This year I have been working to make my office hours utilized and useful to my students and myself. Here I will share some of the tools and tips I have for this.
This afternoon I received an email from one of my students of the typical “I am really embarrassed to ask you and this is probably a dumb question” type.
You know the type of question, these tend to appear sometime after the first exams when students feel stressed about their marks and are looking for guidance on how to move forward.
This time of the semester is also when students have that awkward feeling of “it is too late to say I have no clue about your course, have not read the book nor installed the software on my laptop that I need”, “the teacher is going to explode if I tell her/him that, so I better just hide and hope the problem goes away”.