Higher Ed Success Matters

Transforming your advising practice can begin with taking one deep, mindful breath between student appointments to ensure you are more present while working with your next student.

Cog Academic Coach Model: Improving the Well Being of Students and Advisors

October 2018

By Guest Writer Kathleen Ellwood

As academic advisors and coaches are asked to do more with less, there is the tendency for stress levels to rise, a decreased present moment interaction with students and colleagues and increased emotional labor (Sechelski & Story, 2018).  These challenges necessitate new approaches to advisor training, providing strategies to decrease stress and promote focus and emotion regulation.

The Cog Academic Coach Model incorporates mindfulness practices and professional coaching skills and strategies to aid in increased present moment awareness, decreased stress, and consciousness around emotion regulation, all leading to a deeper connection with students and self.

The Cog Academic Coach Model is designed for the academic advisor who is moving into an academic coach role, or an advisor who has been instructed to incorporate coaching into an existing model. Cog is also utilized for the student success coach who has not had formal training in professional coaching. Building upon Developmental and Appreciative Advising models, the Cog model infuses mindfulness practices and coaching strategies throughout. Research shows that practicing mindfulness will help decrease stress, increase focus and present moment awareness, and assist in emotion regulation (Greeson, 2009). Further, the Cog Model addresses the history of the coaching profession and a review of the International Coach Federation Eleven Core Competencies-the foundation of coaching. The Cog model encompasses utilizing powerful questions, challenging limiting beliefs, developing a growth mindset and reframing perspectives, to name a few. Lastly, using case studies, advisors will have the opportunity to practice coaching with their peers within a safe space.

As advisors approach a new school year, they can begin by practicing mindfulness. An incremental step that advisors can take to transform their advising practice, is as easy as taking one deep, mindful breath between student appointments.  One deep breath will help center and focus the advisor’s attention for the next student. A study out of Harvard University, reports that 47% of the time our minds are wandering (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010) even when engaged with another person. Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine is one way to combat distraction and enhance focus. During the training, several mindfulness practices are shared. The Cog model includes mindful breathing and listening, as well as the body scan exercise. Practicing mindfulness will support advisors in noticing when their mind has wandered and with kindness bring their attention back to the present moment. Further, it will help advisors become more empathetic in creating a safe, nonjudgmental space for their students. Lastly, it will aid in their emotion regulation, being less reactive to charged situations leading to decreased stress levels and greater happiness. Overall, advisors who practice mindfulness will find an ability to be in the present moment, rather than worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. It all starts with one mindful breath. The Cog model is a holistic notion; through mindfulness we can create a better self-awareness giving us deeper focus and patience for those we serve.

About Our Guest Writer

Kathleen Ellwood, MA, PCC,Cog Coaching and Consulting

Kathleen worked in higher education student affairs before moving into private coaching and consulting. In her current work she has provided training for academic advisors, is a Performance Coach for the Women’s Soccer team at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a mentor to Clarion’s Leadership & Innovation Connection Group (CLIC). She holds a BS, in Biological Sciences from Ohio University, an MA, in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Professional Coaching Certificate, from the International Coach Academy, a Training Certificate from Duke University’s Koru Mindfulness Program, and she is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner. 

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