If you dropped by the
Sweet Hall office during the summer institute in September, you
will recall its four cubicles accommodating two instructors each
and divided by light green partitions set against the cream walls
of the room. While the cubicles might make this office setup seem
quite unusual to some at first sight, for the PWR instructors,
who moved there in September 2005, this office has become a communal
space by means of the social and collegial environment enabled
by its very spatial configuration.
PWR Open House continues on the walls of the Sweet Hall
The open space of
the Sweet Hall office allows the "Sweet mates" or "Sweet
peeps," as some of these office mates like to refer to each
other in collective emails, to interact with each other more freely
than is possible in separate offices. According to PWR lecturer
Jonathan Hunt, "because the space is open, we all interact
more-I think we have a better sense of how everybody is doing,
and it's easier to ask a quick question or touch base." In
the words of PWR teaching fellow Donna Hunter, the daily interactions
enabled by this openness of the work space are what makes working
in the Sweet Hall office a pleasure for her: "Working in
Sweet Hall has been a pleasure for me, particularly as a new Stanford
hire who had never taught on the quarter system or taught rhetoric.
In fact, without the moral support and teaching expertise of my
Sweet Hall colleagues, I don't know that I would have made it
to the winter quarter. It is great having veteran instructors
from whom to ask advice as well as share both successes and distresses."
While such daily conversations
involving spontaneous brainstorming about pedagogy provide instant
mutual support, they have also paved the way for collaborations
currently in progress in the form of panel proposals for professional
conferences. Of course, the office mates don't always talk shop;
they frequently share personal anecdotes and non-PWR related experiences,
which led to dinners off campus during the past two quarters,
further bolstering their sense of community.
As an office away
from the program's main offices, the Sweet Hall locale has also
posed its own special challenges. For example, due to distance,
returning rosters and filing equipment requests has been difficult.
However, the conversations among the office mates and regular
meetings with the PWR directors and administrative staff have
led to many convenient solutions for such problems; recently,
for instance, a fax machine to file forms and equipment requests
has been installed in the office, and the instructors' mail is
now being forwarded from Margaret Jacks. Additionally, Sweet Hall
provides easy access to a wealth of academic and technology resources
and a variety of nearby places for working and conferencing, thanks
to its proximity to Meyer, Green Library, and the Education Library,
as well as the Stanford Bookstore and Moon Bean's Café.
Most recently, the
"den mates"-yet another moniker some of them use for
each other-also received a water cooler adding to the convenience
of having a printer, a Xerox machine, a scanner, and a microwave
in the office. While these appliances render the daily operations
smooth, the office walls displaying the instructors' PWR1 and
PWR2 open-house posters continue to offer a visible sign of the
PWRful community in Sweet Hall.