January 29, 2014
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Afraid of Your Teacher’s Office Hours? Don’t Be!

Success in college takes many things: commitment, hard work, plenty of studying, and a strong support system. You also can do yourself a big favor by taking advantage of your instructors’ office hours. Why go to the effort?

  • To let them know who you are and make a personal connection.
  • To better understand the direction of assignments.
  • To get help when you need it.

I talked to a number of our faculty members here at FRCC and they value the time they get to spend one on one with students. Here are a few tips and insights from them about office hours.

Come early and often!

I wish that students would come for help earlier in the semester, in addition to more often. I can not only help them with the course material, but also with study skills and problem-solving approaches.

- Wendy Bailey, Integrated Technology Department, Larimer Campus

Instructors are there to help students help themselves.

I really appreciate students who come at the allotted time with specific questions, concerns or problems. I think most of our faculty members want to do whatever we can to help our students. Utilizing office hours is a part of that.

- Amy Mann, Chair, Arts and Letters Department, Boulder County Campus

Let yourself be heard.

Students can always come to me when they feel lost, overwhelmed, or confused. If I know there is confusion, I can often help, but if I don’t know, then I have no idea that my help is needed. It’s tragic to see students give up when all they need to do is reach out.

- Stewart Erlich, English and Communication Department, Westminster Campus

Create a relationship with your instructors.

Establishing a positive working relationship with the teacher is probably the most important action a student can take during the educational experience. A student who uses office hours to ask for clarification, tell me something about his or her goals, or request feedback—that is a student who is going to be very successful.

- Kathy Mendt, Rhetoric, Languages, and Philosophy Department, Larimer Campus

Your instructors DO want to talk with you.

I am thrilled when students come to office hours. I welcome the chance to work with students individually, to talk to them about ideas, and to get to know them beyond the scope of class content. When I have a chance to connect to my students this way, I think I have a better chance of connecting with them in class, knowing where they are coming from, and knowing how I can be helpful.

- Stewart Erlich, English and Communication Department, Westminster Campus

Instructors are reachable in a variety of ways.

I talk with students about everything all the time. They can reach me 24 hours a day on my iPad email, and I am always connected to their needs.

- Dave Skiles, Business, Education & Information Technology Department, Boulder County Campus

 

Office hours are a great opportunity for you to reach out to your instructors—and as you can tell, they want you to do so. So, the next time you feel nervous about talking with your instructor, remember: they want you to succeed. Turn to them if you need help.

 

About the author:

Andy Dorsey is the President of Front Range Community College. He joined FRCC in 1993, teaching psychology and economics and earning Master Teacher honors in 1999. Before becoming an educator, he worked as a project manager in two businesses, non-profit manager, and legislative director for a Congressman.

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