Thursday, March 13, 2014

Boundaries and Teaching and Life

This is kind of a new experience for me since I've started teaching English majors: students who actually want to talk to me outside of class, and come to my office, and go for coffee and be my Facebook friend and work as my TA.  Not that my other students didn't like to talk to me or interact with me, but they were quite often 1st year students who are usually quite shy, and they were also a lot of engineers who often just didn't speak English well enough to have more than a 1-2 minute conversation and the thought of actually coming to my office filled them with horror.

But now.  How to deal with it?  I know that I want to have a life outside of work and actually require it in order to have any semblance of joy and happiness in my life.  But, if I said yes to all requests, I wouldn't and I would quite literally be at work from sun-up to sun-down every single day.  And then that leaves the dilemma.  I actually do want to meet with some students, but how could I say yes to one and not the others without seeming unfair? And if I answered my office door every time someone knocked, I'd truly never be able to get any prep/ grading/ academic publishing (trying to get my Delta paper published in a journal!)/ professional development done.  People knock every 10 minutes or so.  Literally.   And, I actually do teach a significant numbers of hours/week (around 20), with 5 different classes to prepare for each week so my time is not so abundant.

So my solution so far has to be in the Global Zone at my university for 4 hours/week, where the students have to make appointments online to meet with me for a 30 minute slot.  This takes the responsibility for who gets an appointment and who doesn't entirely out of my hands.  And it's very well-defined in terms of time so it's very easy to finish and leave at the end of it.  I like the idea of office hours, but I REALLY don't like the idea of being in my office 1-1 with students.  Stuff like that is dangerous.  Even when leaving the door open.  And, I tell the students that the best way to contact me with any problems or questions is via Twitter or email and that I'll respond within 24 hours. 

Are the students happy?  Not exactly, but I'm kind of okay with not letting my students suck all life out of me.

Check out one of my favorite books about this topic:

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