My still new-smelling office (I’ve been here since September) is in a suite of offices: we five share a vestibule. In the past, I’ve been in offices along long hallways, so unless the walls were thin (and yes, they sometimes were) I didn’t hear my colleagues’ conversations with students.
But now I hear them all, especially when their doors are open. And it’s been enlightening, I tell you.
Some colleagues are abrupt and direct, especially when students arrive one minute before a class with a long, tedious excuse story. Of these colleagues, some are better at cutting off long stories than others (and yes, we’ve discussed “rescue” situations but haven’t put them into play yet). Some are fabulously blunt (“you should drop the course”) while others beat around the bush more (“you’ve missed 5 weeks of classes; what do you think you would need to do to catch up?”).
Other colleagues hold long seminars with students who may have just come by to pick up the homework assignment. The student is half way out the door, yet the professor has much more to say about whatever topic they were discussing in the last class…
Others, sit down and have lengthy conversations filled with popular culture references, jokes, the occasional reference to the student’s paper, and ample compliments (to and fro). One might even think they were at a dinner party, and on their second drinks. And there is a line of students waiting to chat with this particular professor, all seeming to take it in stride. [It is this particular one that led me to blog right now. The student is quite striking….]
And finally, there are those who are incredibly efficient with students who visit their office, working several of them at the same time. I’ve done this: once about 7 students lined up to chat with me about their outlines, and now that my office is big enough, I had them all make themselves comfy on the floor (these were all flexible students, promise), I passed around a box of pop tarts, and we had a group discussion about the outlines before pairing up to chat, while I met with one at a time. Seven student conferences in less than one hour: check!
I’ve been nearly everyone of these “types” at one time or another. But, I just can’t imagine having the leisurely, cocktail party type-conversation with a student: we hold 5 office hours a week and I’m busy every minute of them, if not with live students than with e-mails or Blackboard discussion postings. I wonder how he does it?