Captain's log, stardate 41153.7...

Oct 09 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

One of the many hats I wear is teacher.  This term, I'm teaching general chemistry to 39 science and engineering majors.  Not only do I have to dazzle these 39 students with chemistry in the classroom, I've got to invite them to my office on a regular basis for chemistry chats. That's right. Office hours.

Actually, I love office hours.  I enjoy talking with students one-on-one about the awesomeness which is the photoelectric effect, or hydrogen bonding, or acid-base reactions... Problem is, the majority of students don't come to office hours.  Seriously. Students don't go to office hours.  Even though there are 5 excellent reasons to attend office hours and attending office hours is often a tip in those 'How to Succeed in College' things that come out every year.  Even though there are how-to guides on attending office hours.  Even though teachers want students to attend office hours.

We're 3 weeks into the term and only 3 out of my 39 students have attended my office hours.  I know their names and exactly what we talked about.  Not because I have a good memory, but because I keep a log.

I keep a log for two reasons...

  1. Letter to politician effect*.  If a student takes the time to come to my corner of the college with a question, that question is IMPORTANT to them.  This question is probably being asked by 5 other students.  Knowing that potentially 6 students in my class are confused about something means I need to clarify that something.
  2. BIDEIC (bid-ek).  At the end of the term, 1-2 students+ may come to my office and express confusion, dismay, and - sometimes - anger over their D or F grade.  They'll say, "But I did everything I could."  And I'll have to show them they did not do everything they could.  They never asked for help.

Though BIDEIC is a good reason to start a log, it's reason #1 that motivates me to maintain my log.  It's helping me be a better teacher.


*Not an email or a phone call.  An actual handwritten letter.  Watch Omar Ahmad's TED talk.

+This number doesn't represent the number of D or F grades received in one of my classes.  Also, in my experience, most students earning a D or an F are not surprised at the grade.

Image of Captain Kirk from In My Copious Free Time


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