Kishwaukee College prides itself on offering students personalized attention, meeting students where they are academically and helping them move forward to achieve their goals. Instructors regularly work with students outside of class, during office hours on campus or in Testing & Tutoring Services among the free tutors, to assist students in being successful. For Matt Read, Mathematics instructor, “meeting students where they are” has an even more literal meaning. He can often be found evenings and weekends in public places and spaces, working with students, over a cup of coffee.
Read, who teaches everything from Arithmetic to Calculus III at Kish, began meeting with students about eight years ago when he was teaching an online course. Many students register for an online course because of tight and demanding life schedules; in an online course, students can complete coursework at any time within a specified period – from Monday morning to Sunday at midnight. But meeting an instructor during set office hours can prove difficult and runs counter to what attracted the students to the convenience of online coursework.
In response to students’ difficulty in meeting with him during office hours, Read agreed to meet students at a variety of public venues: restaurants, libraries, even gas stations. His favorite off-campus office hour location is the dining area at Hy-Vee in Sycamore. His off-campus office hours have grown in popularity. “I quickly opened up the off-campus office hour to students in traditional sections as well to give more time for questions to be answered,” he said. “Over the years, I have begun adding office hours on campus from the five required hours per week to some semesters having my office hours be 12 hours per week. But I still found that, even with the extra hours, it was hard for some students to come by with questions. Holding a night and weekend office hour at a public location near students in the community adds a new level of flexibility for the help they may need.”
Read has found that meeting the students where they are – literally – impacts student success. “For some students just knowing that I am available if they need me makes them feel assured they can do it on their own. Other students may have that last minute question bothering them that can be answered quickly versus waiting until the next class session or campus office hour,” he explained. “I have also noticed a great side effect to the office hours off campus are ad-hoc study groups that form. When students come together to ask questions of me, they sometimes meet other students in their class and form these study groups.”
For Matt Read, sipping coffee with students while helping them conquer mathematics at any and all levels only makes sense. “I expect a tremendous amount of work to happen with my students at home. While I can show them all the ideas they need to know and give them examples of what they should do in class, it still is up to the students to work on these ideas and make attempts at extending their knowledge. While I am expecting them to work hard, I want them to know that I am doing the same,” he stated. “My overall philosophy is to give the students in my courses the tools they need to succeed and make sure I am available to help them in their journey.”
The Fall 2016 semester at Kishwaukee College begins on August 29; registration is currently in progress. For more information on enrollment and registration, contact Student Services at 815-825-9375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Caption: Matt Read is a Mathematics instructor at Kishwaukee College who regularly holds off-campus office hours at public places in the community to better assist his students. Pictured is Matt (center) assisting two of his students – Cynthia Holt, Rochelle, and Andrew Tomek, DeKalb – at the dining area at Hy-Vee in Sycamore.