A Newsletter about post-secondary Academic Advising in Ontario [i]
Published by Fall, 2012
Here we are, once again – the end of the year, holidays upon us, students wrapping up their fall terms with papers and exams, parties to attend, families to celebrate with – oh, the business of it. Don’t you just love it? It is a busy time, but I would argue a time for us to take a moment now and then to reflect about all of the good things that we have going on. We all have many things worth celebrating at work and at home, so here’s wishing all a wonderful season of celebration!
New Members of OAAP Steering Commmittee
Many thanks to Marty Lowman, Tracey Szarka, and Shari Dorr, all former members of the OAAP Steering Committee who have served the association well for a number of years. Your time and energy is appreciated by all. New members of the committee will be announced by the Steering Committee members in the coming weeks.
The Steering Committee has set up a new email account where advisors can contact them with ideas, concerns, or questions. The account will be monitored regularly, so if you need to reach them, please send an email to email@example.com and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
Technology Working Group
Last year at this time, I put out a call to form a working group on technology in advising. Rhonda Christian (Durham) , Heather Craig-Morton (Sheridan), Stella Han (Brock), and Kimberley Young (UOIT) volunteered to help, along with Shari Dorr (Steering Committee rep).
We worked hard over a few months to pull together a list of favourite technological tools that advisors can use to reach students more effectively. Then, we presented the information at the recent OAAP Conference in Point Pelee. We each presented one of our tools, and we gathered further ideas from attendees. A final report has been sent to the current members of the Steering Committee. If you want a copy, please contact them at their new email address and one will be forwarded along.
All In A Day’s Work – Conference 2012 Information
Wow, what a time we had last month! It was a great conference in Point Pelee – an intimate setting where we were all able to meet colleagues from other institutions and share best practices. Tricia Seifert kicked things off with her opening plenary where she encouraged everyone to develop communities of practice. One thing that resulted from this talk was that attendees created email groups if they had special interestsin advising – Mental Health, International Students, etc. The Steering Committee has been provided with the contact names in each of the groups, so plan to hear more from them in the near future about how the groups will be fostered.
The concurrent sessions were great. Many thanks are extended to all advisors from across the province who submitted proposals for presentations. We learned about many different advising programs and tools for effectively reaching students. Not surprisingly, there seemed to be an over-arching technology theme in many presentations, but each was tailored to look at the world of technology in advising from a different perspective.
Ken Hart closed the conference with a wonderful talk about using positive psychology techniques when advising students. Rather than seeing students as problems ready to solve, he encouraged us all to appreciate our students and encourage them to fulfill their own expectations for themselves.
All in all, it was a great conference. We hope to see more advisors out next year…
The OAAP Conference, Communities of Practice and Listserv
University of Waterloo
This was my first OAAP Conference as an Ontario advisor and I was very glad I attended! Met a super network of colleagues. For me one of the themes of this conference was communities of practice. Tricia Seifert, an assistant professor at OISE studying student learning and success led a morning discussion on the topic and then Jo Stewart, Co-Chair of the conference ended the conference by encouraging us to join a listserv on a variety of communities of practice topics such as first years, at risk students, first generation students, mental health, mature students, etc.
What is the value of participating in a community of practice? Etienne Wenger says it well, “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly,” (Wenger circa 2007) With the speed technology advances and the challenges our students face on the global stage and economy these days, learning how to be better advisors allows us to better facilitate our students’success.The question is how do we maintain momentum from the conference and initiate and keep these communities of practice going. The desire is there.
We know colleagues have great ideas or are working on terrific projects. Yet often we don’t know what advisors are up to on the other side of campus let alone across Ontario.Ryan Green, current member of the OAAP Steering Committee mentioned he’d like to utilize the OAAP website more to its capacity
http://ontarioadvising.webs.com/. To that end then we will place the communities of practice topics in the Advisor to Advisor Forum as Headings. Advisors can add links to articles they’ve read that address new programs in that area or new updates, and other OAAP advisors can periodically visit the site to review them. Maybe once a semester the updates can be amalgamated into one email to send to the original subscribers to the listserv.
If you have comments or further suggestions on maintaining momentum and the listservs please contact
firstname.lastname@example.org Reference Communities of Practice; http://www.infed.org/biblio/communities_of_practice.htm.
Looking Down The Road –The 2013 and 2014 Conferences
No details about date or theme can be shared yet, but we have to thank the advisors at Trent University and at Fanshawe College. Trent will be hosting the 2013 OAAP conference, and the advisors at Fanshawe College have offered to host the 2014 conference. If you would like to host a future OAAP conference, please don’t hesitate to volunteer. The experience can be fun and brings many rewards. If you would like to offer to host a future conference, please contact the Steering Committee at email@example.com. They have a “conference planning binder” that has been put together by previous hosts (many thanks to Amy Gaukel for starting that!). That binder can be shared and will help as you bring the conference to your city. Remember, for future conferences, you are all encouraged to consider submitting proposals – you can present on any advising topic using any presentation method that suits you and your topic (e.g., round-table, discussion groups, panel discussion, etc.). Put your thinking caps on and don’t hesitate to submit a proposal about what you are doing in your advising units.
What Are You Proud Of?
In an attempt to combine the messages of the two main speakers at this year’s conference, I recently sent a note out to all advisors on the NACADA Canada Listserv. Tricia Seifert reminded me that a community of practice is very important for professional development. Recognizing that we are a community of advisors who share the practice of advising, I would like to reach out to you, the Ontario community of advisors and ask a question that Ken Hart regularly asks his students – “What have you done lately that you are proud of?” Of course, this opens the door for many things (e.g., had a baby, completed an educational qualification, lost ten pounds, etc.). Congratulations on all of those, but for here, I’m more interested in your advising practice.
If you have something that you have done (or continue to do) in your advising unit that you are particularly proud of, please send that along to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will compile all responses and send a report to the Steering Committee for dissemination to each of you. I will plan to organize the responses in mid-January, so please respond by then.
Here’s wishing each of you a happy holiday season, surrounded by friends and family. Happy New Year too!
[i] Academic Advising is to be understood in its broadest sense and may include those involved in providing academic advice, career advice, counseling, liaison services, and/or learning skills opportunities in order to promote student success and retention.