advising vs coaching vs guiding

I just got back from the First-Year Experience Conference yesterday.  As always found a few nuggets that can be used in our Life Design work.
I presented a session titled, “Advising, Coaching, and Student Success with Life Design in Mind.” After the session, I had a few interesting conversation with a few of the participants.  When I got back, I shared some of those conversations with my colleague, Megan Cayton.  We had a really interesting discussion about advising, coaching, and guiding, especially after I read the book, “Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning.” by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani.  It made me think about the difference between advising, coaching, and guiding (our term) – in terms of the power dynamic.
In advising and coaching, there is typically a power dynamic at play, either overtly (advising) or covertly (coaching); in other words, the advisor (in advising) or the coach (in coaching) is “in charge” of the conversation with students/clients.  In guiding, both the guide and the student/client have equal power in the conversation.  In that sense, once the advisor and the coach complete their “session” with their student/client, the “relationship” is complete.  In a guiding, it’s possible to continue the relationship long after the “sessions” are over.
I then came up with the following – and feel free to disagree and share comments:
  • Advisors: Depending on the situation, will typically serve as either the “Sage on the Stage” or the “Guide on the Side,” providing/sharing information and giving advise to help students be successful in and graduate from college.
  • Coaches: Will typically serve as the “Guide on the Side,” asking powerful questions to move people towards increasing performance or making positive change.
  • Guides: Will typically serve as the “Guide on the Ride,” where both the guide and the student/client are on an epic adventure, learning from one another.  Guides take an active role in developing their students’/clients’ stories AND in developing their own stories at the same time.
And depending on the situation, all educators have to serve a myriad of all three, depending on the situation.  For me, I would MUCH RATHER serve as a “Guide on the Ride,” where I’m not only helping students write their own stories, but I’m also writing my own stories about how I can profoundly serve others.
Any thoughts?

2 thoughts on “advising vs coaching vs guiding

  1. Love your commentaries! Like you, I would prefer to be the “Guide on the Ride” also. I tell my advisees all the time, that when I am giving advice or asking reflective questions to help them process various experiences— I am also talking to myself. It’s a blessing that I get a chance to continue my growth and development alongside them.

    • Hi Tanzania! Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful reply! I COMPLETELY agree with your statement “I am also talking to myself!” Yep, that’s me too! And like you, it’s always a blessing to continue growing and developing with them! You are a smart cookie!

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