Running Effective Office Hours
(Source: TA Training & Development Program: Survival Guide, University of Guelph, 2003.)
Your office hours provide you with an excellent opportunity to help your students on an individual basis. When you set up office hours:
- Try to set your office hours at a time that does not conflict with a course that the majority of your students have to take. Consider asking your students to assist you in setting up office hours during your first session. Select some days and times that suit your schedule and ask them their preference.
- Consider holding your office hours just prior to or just following the time of the class. This can be beneficial because students can come to you directly prior to or directly following sessions with any questions or issues (when questions are fresh in their minds).
- Choose a time slot that you can make every week. Try no to have “floating” office hours.
- Make sure there is a quiet place for you to meet with your students that will not interrupt other AAVs.
- Try to have another AAV or student around during your office hours, especially if it’s after 4:30. This precaution creates a safer environment for you and your students.
Encourage your students to come and visit you:
- Have them pick up or drop off their projects during your office hours.
- Indicate on their papers if you would like to discuss a certain issue with them during your office hours.
- Have additional information available only during office hours (e.g., sample exam questions, lab reports, books or papers).
- Be open and approachable. Students are more likely to ask you for help or feedback if they feel you are interested in them and how they are doing.
When your students arrive:
- Put aside your own work. Remember that you have set this time aside for them and their concerns or questions.
- If several students arrive at once ask them if they have similar problems. If they do, you can either talk to them as a group, or one at a time and let the rest discuss the issues amongst themselves while they wait.
- If multiple students arrive and they have separate issues to discuss, try to keep track of who is next in line.
- Try to keep yourself organized to ensure they you have the opportunity to address everyone’s questions in the time you have allotted.
Dealing with a Student in Personal Difficulty
(Adapted from the TA Training & Development Program: Survival Guide, University of Guelph, 2003.)
As an AAV you have a great deal of direct contact with students. As a result, students may come to you when they are experiencing difficulties or an emotional crisis. Their problems may be related to transitional issues (e.g., moving away from home or returning to school after a long absence), family, relationships, sexuality, grief and loss, abuse, or any number of issues. At times your students may require immediate attention. How can you be an assistance?
- Take time to listen.
- Take the problem seriously.
- Let the student know that you are concerned.
- Explain to the students that although you may be willing to offer an ear, you are not qualified to become involved in anyway or offer any advice.
- Refer the student to the appropriate resources (see below).
- Consult with Counselling Services if you have any concerns about the confidentiality of the student’s information, before discussing the problem with others that may provide assistance.
Personal counselling services are available through the Office of Student Development and Services.
In the case of an emergency outside our normal office hours, you may contact the Crisis Intervention Program at North Bay General Hospital at (705) 495-8198 or (705) 474-8600 (Switchboard).