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Navigating the Unexpected

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As much as we plan and prepare for our instructor-student conferences, sometimes the meetings don’t go as expected. Here are some common glitches you might encounter and some suggestions about ways to navigate them.

A late student  

  • Scenario: A student arrives 15 minutes late.  While you’re glad they finally showed up, this jeopardizes your carefully-crafted conferencing schedule and might have a ripple effect for other student conferences. 
  • How to navigate: End the conference on time, even if that means that you only had 15 minutes to devote to the student, unless you have the bandwidth and room in your schedule to accommodate letting the meeting run late.  You can suggest that they supplement by seeing a drop-in tutor or appointment-based tutor at Hume; if you have the time and capacity, you might suggest that they sign up for another meeting with you, but that depends on your schedule and your availability.

A student who wants to stay past his/her allotted time

  • Scenario: Although you’ve been tracking the time, the student wants to keep talking past the 30-minute mark, even though there are other students waiting. 
  • How to navigate: Preemptively, have a clock where both you and the student can see it easily (alternately, you might have two clocks, one positioned near where the student is sitting – so you can keep track of the time without turn your ahead – and one behind where you are seeing – so the student can see it when they look at you).  Periodically say things like, “Since we only have 10 minutes left…” to help the student understand both the pacing of the conference and the amount of time allocated for the conversation.  If the student still wants to remain long, kindly but firmly draw the conversation to a close, reminding them that other students are waiting or that you have to move on to your next obligation.  You might offer the student to follow-up with additional questions on email or, again, point them to Hume as a resource.  See also, "Got a Student Who Just Won't Leave? Managing Time in Conferences" from our “I Wish I Knew” entries (Note that you will need to log-in to Canvas to access this resource).

A student who cancels their conference last minute

  • Scenario: You’ve carefully arranged your conferences and have aligned your personal schedule, and at the last minute (whether that be a day ahead of time, or an hour ahead of time), one of your students writes to cancel and to reschedule.
  • How to navigate: [coming soon]

A no-show student  [coming soon]

A student who only wants to be told what to do [coming soon]

A student who doesn’t have a draft [coming soon]

A student who seems unengaged [coming soon]

A student who becomes emotional [coming soon]

A student who seems hostile [coming soon]