The schedule for this semester’s remote learning plan has allotted more time for office hours.
For this fall semester of learning, Thomas Jefferson is choosing to stay in remote learning due to COVID-19. Staying remote for the remainder of this semester is a great choice to keep students safe and do our part to reduce the spread of the novel Coronavirus. However, remote learning comes with challenges that usually stem from a lack of direct connection and contact to students. Luckily, TJ has made it possible for every student to have access to technology that would allow them to access online classes as well as work by providing Chromebooks to those who need one. This was a great step toward making sure that access to communication with teachers and other students was an option. Now, after a few months of online learning, students and teachers are becoming more acclimated to this system and are starting to become routine in the process. Most of the classes and some of the clubs are now functional through this new system; similarly, office hours have been available to students. Before the pandemic, office hours were an option if students needed help to talk to their teacher(s) and/or make up any work. Now, TJ’s remote learning schedule has included an entire day, Friday, out of the week to make time for students to benefit from connection with teachers through office hours.
The inclusion of office hours allow for students to get help academically and connect with teachers in a less formal way than regular class. It is an opportunity to ask questions and communicate on a more personal level. Assistant Principal Jon Poole stated, “In addition to advisement, office hours provide time for teachers to not only help students academically, but connect with them on a social and emotional level.” With this year requiring significant isolation, it is beneficial for students especially to find a level of support beyond academics. Office hours provides opportunities to maybe discuss any difficulties students are encountering with the current situations and receive additional support. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to show up and at least check in with their teachers to allow for the remote learning structure to really have its desired effect on a student’s learning and well-being.
Of course, it all boils down to how the teachers conduct their office hours and how the students participate. Although the structure allows the same amount of time for each class to conduct their hour, teachers approach the time in different ways.
James Stephenson, who teaches civics and AP Government, provided insight into his office hours philosophy and the effect it plays in online learning. Stephenson made the point that office hours is an opportunity for students to “check in with the teacher [and] get that extra help if they need.” He went on to say that office hours are all about “providing more opportunities to connect with the students” and “provid[ing] a place to work through that late work or have [him] talk through an assignment with everybody.” It seems that the time allotted for this extra help has presented some minor differences in method but has remained the same in intentions and effect. Office hours are a great opportunity to check in. However, they also provide a resource for students to individually seek out teachers who are more than willing to help students excel academically and emotionally. So there you have it: make sure you are taking advantage of this whole day of extra help.