We all know the importance of office hours – creating that critical link with our students outside of the classroom. Connecting early with students is more important than ever, to create a safe space where students feel comfortable asking us questions or sharing with us if they are feeling overwhelmed or need help. Social distancing and hygiene protocols will make these connections a challenge this fall. Beyond office hours, we need to create opportunities for students to become a support network for one another.
To facilitate this sense of community, I plan to invite students to take socially distanced walks with me around campus in the fall, in lieu of traditional office hour meetings. I’ll lead small groups, so that students also have a chance to meet and befriend one another. In addition to the usual benefit of getting to know students better and connecting on a human level, these walks will also help students get to know one another, to be more willing to work together on assignments later in the semester, and to develop a sense of connection to our beautiful campus. Lastly, I hope that these walks will model to students the value to their mental health by getting outside, doing something physically active, spending quality time with friends, and enjoying the sun.