COVID-19 Advisor Stories

Given that advisors are, by their very nature, social people. Even those of us who tend toward introversion appreciate connections with our students and our colleagues. We understand the importance of the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 quarantine, but we need to maintain contact with other humans.

This event is unprecedented. There hasn’t been a physical separation of individuals on this scale for almost a hundred years. What is going on around us, to our jobs and to our students, hasn’t ever happened, and will hopefully never happen again. And we have the technology to make it work well – and the knowledge to know that technology won’t fix every problem.

Our students are sometimes hysterical, and sometimes inspirational. We do our jobs because we want to help them be as successful as they can be, even when the world around them looks very different from how they expected it to be.

So let’s share some stories. Perhaps you’re struggling with the work/life balance, because it was easier to work from a location completely separated from the rest of your life, and now your children are climbing on your lap and trying to join your staff meetings. Perhaps you have a student whose story is worth sharing – either because others need to know some of the pitfalls, or because it is just an outstanding example of their personal fortitude. Perhaps you’re learning all of the good things that technology can bring, and all of the ways that it is truly better to communicate in person.

During the Plague in Italy, a group of individuals who were stuck together chose to tell each other stories. Their world was very small because of the limitations of their space, but these stories helped expand it through the images they were able to bring in from their prior experiences. Our own worlds are small right now – lets expand them by sharing our own tales with others. That way, we can both entertain each other, and remind ourselves that there is a world ready for us to rejoin it, once we can all do so safely.

Therefore, I propose that we, the members of ACADAOS, start our own COVID-19 virus tales blog. You can provide your story in whatever form you want (written, video, drawing), but please share. You can post as a comment attached to this message, or send me an email, and I will happily post it for you.

My hope is that we can continue to build community, even when we are separated, and have a little fun doing it.

If you have any questions, let me know! My email is spanos.4@osu.edu, and I’m also available virtually for conversation. 

Joanna

3 thoughts on “COVID-19 Advisor Stories

  1. Advising during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a balancing act. My husband continued to go into the office throughout the entire stay-at-home order (he works in logistics management), so I was left to work from home and parent our infant on my own for 9+ hours a day. There is no down time. When the baby is sleeping or otherwise occupied, I am working. When I need to work and he is not sleeping, it’s Amazon prime Simple Songs to the rescue. I have called students for an advising appointment while simultaneously giving the baby a bottle. The baby has made an appearance on more than one Zoom call/meeting. I never feel like I am doing a good job; I constantly feel guilty. If I’m working, I feel guilty for plopping him in front of the TV. If I am playing with him, I feel guilty for not working. I do what I can, when I can, and I keep reminding myself I am doing my best. That’s all any of us can do right now.

  2. Working from home has felt lonely. I say this as someone who identifies as a MASSIVE introvert, and who also has her fiance working from home as well since he is also an academic advisor. While it has been nice to share lunch with him every day, I have missed being in my office with my colleagues so much more than I realized I would. I miss actually seeing my students. Zoom calls just don’t feel the same. I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m not getting as much done as I would in the office, even though I know that my “down time” in the office is typically spent talking with others in the office…and now I don’t have that so my down time doesn’t feel like it’s right. I struggle to remind myself that I am doing the best I can given the circumstances, and I remind to give myself a break every now and then. I extend so much grace and understanding to my students during this…I need to learn to extend that same grace and understanding to myself.

  3. I miss people for certain. I have a great team in the TAG office, and as others have noted, Zoom calls just aren’t the same. But here are some good things:

    1. Being able to open a window on nice days, feel the breeze, hear the birds (and the garbage truck and trains LOL!). I worked in the basement of Denney for about 10 years with no windows, then on the 1st floor with windows you didn’t dare open in case they broke and for the past 3 years, I’ve worked in the SAS building with windows that don’t open and that I couldn’t directly see from my cube. I don’t sit outside often because I have a dual screen setup at my desk, so being able to hear things other than silence is good.

    2. Being able to eat lunch together with my husband on the days he works from home. We have separate office areas due to both working with protected data, but most days we end up eating lunch together unless there are noontime meetings happening. In normal times, he works downtown so unless one of us has the day off, having lunch together on a workday isn’t practical.

    3. Being able to wear more casual clothes than I would at the office. I usually wear the same shirts, but with shorts or jeans. No pajama or yoga pants here but still nice to be in comfy clothes.

    4. I don’t have a regular roster of students in this role but I have helped with advising in various areas that have had vacancies. The students I’ve worked with generally have been great, and it was touching to have many of them express care and concern for my health and safety. Even if it has become as automatic as saying “have a nice day”, I still appreciated hearing it especially since I am not their usual advisor.

    I can’t wait until the world is right enough that we can all be back on campus safely but know that I appreciate all of you and honor the hard work you are putting in to help our students.

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