Each of the academic advisors in my office has a different specialty. We take care of different student populations (undeclared, nursing, engineering, transfer, and post-bac). We boast our own #acadv grooves, have our own forms and check sheets, and essentially run our own mini-shops within the success center. While we come together for staff meetings to share what each of us is working on within academic advising and beyond, I’ve found that the best work we’ve accomplished as an office, and our most creative ideas, have come from sitting around and talking shop.
I call them jam sessions because we don’t usually plan to come together. It usually happens in the middle of our waiting area, and these meetings can last anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour. One of us typically has a question about a policy, a process, or future plans…and we end up sharing ideas and insight on a number of topics related to our mini-shops and to our office in general. In fact, some of our best work has come from these sessions.
Take a few weeks ago. Our assistant director stopped by my office with a question about our first-year experience course, and it turned into an hour-long chat about the course, assignments, our major fair, and ultimately how to empower students who come through our office and get them excited about declaring a major at the success center. The major declaration certificates that I’ve shared with you came out of this meeting, and have become popular among our students as we celebrate this important milestone with them.
Remember the is exploratory advising right for you? infographic that I’ve shared? How about the so, you want to choose a major… flowchart that our undeclared students use in their advising sessions? Or the nursing parallel plans sheet that I present at every single one of my information sessions about the pre-nursing track at UAB? These ideas all came out of jam sessions with my colleagues. We identify problems, we poke holes in each other’s proposals, and come up with ideas like these that arguably better serve our students and help them to understand how exploratory advising can make a difference in their academic planning.
I’ve also found that jamming with my colleagues has been a great way for us to naturally gravitate toward one another and start to truly bond. The advisors in my office learned to work together and bonded quickly from the beginning, especially while we were all sharing an office as ours were being built, but it’s important to maintain that special connection we nurtured in the early days. Academic advising can become pretty lonely as advisors begin to delve into their populations and spend full days working one-on-one with students. It gets tough for us to come together beyond our biweekly staff meetings, but we’re finding that by taking a few minutes to chat about an issue or a question, or share an exciting story, on our off time that we can maintain that strong connection and continue to feed off of one another. Each of us comes from a different background in higher education, and we each have a unique perspective to bring to the table. It’s great that we can continue to harness that as our days become fuller.
So, I encourage you to find time to share ideas with your colleagues. I know it seems like an obvious task, and it might be something you’re doing already. But if you’re not taking that time to include your colleagues in what you’re up to, why not give it a shot? Do you have a question, or an exciting idea that you want a second opinion on? Stop by your neighbor’s office, say hello, and ask them what their thoughts are on it. Too often we end up in the weeds and don’t do this, though it seems like such an easy task. I recognize that this type of exchange and dialogue doesn’t work for everyone, but if you can make it work, the rewards are great.
How do you jam with your colleagues?
Originally posted on Life in the Yellowhammer State.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Anne Scheideler Sweet on Academic Advising