Dear Conferencing Clara—
I’m glad that you find face to face meetings a useful supplement to the work in our online class. I agree, which is why I scheduled several face to face office hours this term (all of which you took advantage of), as well as the week of one-on-one conferences, with face to face option, we just completed. I’m also happy to answer emails, including the many you’ve sent (most of which did, in fact, ask legitimate questions; I do appreciate how seriously you’ve taken the class, and how hard you’ve worked).
But when I post a list of conference times online with more open slots than students, I don’t intend for all the extra slots be claimed, and definitely not by one student, especially one who’s already doing quite well. Nor do I appreciate it when a student seems to be deliberately signing up for the slots that precede an empty slot, then assuming she can stay beyond the appointed end time. I’m especially perturbed by such behavior when I’ve filled in the empty slots with notations such as “lunch,” and “break,” to emphasize that I do occasionally need a breather during these intense conferencing days. I’ve done my best to be polite and helpful and still get you out the door more or less on time, but you don’t seem to read social cues very well (or, rather, you notice me looking at my watch, and ask if someone else is coming, but when I say that we do need to wind things up, you just keep asking questions. Short of walking out the door myself and hoping you follow, I’m not quite sure what to do).
But the last straw was when I opened my door late this evening, after the final online conference, to head to the bathroom, and found you waiting outside, wanting to ask me “a few more questions.” Apparently you had once again consulted the conference schedule, and (more or less correctly) judged when I would be done. I apologize for lying and saying I needed to be somewhere, but I was really, really tired, and hungry, and perilously close to cranky and/or weepy, and didn’t know any other way to get you to leave. Hopefully you didn’t hang around campus and notice that, many hours later, there was still a light in my office window. On the other hand, if you did, then I’m really feeling stalked.
And now my inbox holds an email, time-stamped 1 a.m., asking for another conference on Monday. Okay, but I’m going to schedule it late in the day, right before someone else’s conference, and on Monday I really do have to leave by a certain hour. If I send you an email scheduling the conference, maybe you could leave me alone for at least 24 hours over the weekend? Please?
Yours in exhaustion (and more than a bit of exasperation),
P.S. You might be interested to know that you’ve spent more one-on-one time with me in the last week than I spent during any month with my undergraduate thesis advisor (and that includes the month I turned in the thesis). In fact, you’ve probably spent more time with me, total, than I spent with one of my dissertation advisors, but that’s another story.