Personal and Professional Reflection on Appreciative Advising

Appreciative Advising is a powerful framework with which an academic advisor can build their practice in function of helping learners achieve their academic potential while attending a post-secondary educational institution and beyond as the learner becomes a Life-Long Learner.

Having the good fortune to be enrolled in the Appreciative Advising course, the following few words will treat both my Personal Reflection on what the course has meant to me in terms of how my outlook has changed as a result of the material and framework that was examined during the course and how I both understood the framework and plan to use it in my journey as a learner; put another way, how I plan to use the learning in my personal and professional life will be something I reflect on.

The reflection will discuss Professional changes I plan to make now that I’ve completed the course. Specifically, I’ll reflect on both short-term and long-term goals, how I’ll integrate the Appreciative Advising framework into my academic advising practice, and how I feel learners will benefit from the implementation and integration into their academic advising interactions with me. Lastly, from a professional perspective, how I plan to celebrate with the learner achievement of integration of the framework into my practice in function of their learner success will be reflected on.

On the idea of celebration, I’ll conclude by reflecting on the co-created journey of academic advising from both the vantage of an advisor and a learner, thus tying in my personal reflections with the professional.

From a personal perspective, the course has given me more structure in viewing my own path forward as both an educator, business professional, life-long and experiential learner, academic, and, in my current role, professor tasked with certain administrative tasks in a collegiate environment.

Paramount among these roles is Academic Advisor. The course in Appreciative Advising, coupled with the material lectures and readings, plus the website, have helped me to understand the nature of Appreciative Advising within the context of Appreciative Inquiry (Bloom, et al., 2008).

Lortie’s ideas of the “Apprenticeship of Observation” (as cited in Borg, 2004), show a real need to have an appreciative mindset when approaching learners who may be initially apprehensive about opening up and sharing their back-story prior to beginning the journey of formal academic planning in function of their success while at school and beyond. Without a framework, the critical role of academic advising, if the advisor has no model to follow, may rely on past experience of simply listing courses that need to be taken within a program of study in order to fulfill a credential requirement — the real power of Appreciative Advising is the relationship nature of the framework that follows a route of disarming, discovery, dreaming, designing, delivering and finally not settling.

For me, using the framework, especially dreaming and designing, and then, not settling, will be something that I think of consciously about and am more mindful of. That is not to say I have not been conscious of this before: rather, I plan to use the Appreciative Advising framework in my own path as a life-long learner, taking courses, and pursuing certifications, credentials, and writing and publishing.

Professionally, I plan to integrate the Appreciative Advising methodology (indeed, I think it would apropos to call it a “system”) into my practice as an academic advisor, a role that is part and parcel of my function as a college Program Coordinator.

As I am in charge of a large post-secondary 2 year diploma program, my purview when it comes to formal academic advising includes among other things, responsibility to provide advising to all upper-level learners (300+ learners — a very standard workload for Academic Advisors).

Short-term, I have already taken steps to make my office more inviting and have shared some personal mementos that learners can observe when they visit with me (a tea pot for example on my desk corner, with which a learner can readily observe a personal artifact from my life in order to be more at ease and thus disarmed when first interacting with me).

Longer-term, as the short-term morphs into the inevitable march of time, I plan to use the framework and document according to the stages above in order to help my learners along in their paths of learning.

As well, in the longer-term, I will share the learning with my colleagues, something I can easily do as a Program Coordinator with 20+ faculty staff in my area teaching in the program across 4 levels.

It goes without saying, that once the summer break has passed for my full-time colleagues, I plan to meet with the entry-level Academic Advisor in order to share the learning (in my area, faculty are tasked with the duty of Academic Advising).

I can see great benefits accruing to my learners with the use of the framework. This could be interpreted as a testimonial of sorts: it should be viewed as more than this. Appreciate Advising is a framework, a powerful framework, with which learners can build and develop plans for their future. It is a constructionist system that leverages the power of past knowledge and experience that an academic advisor can use to guide and help learners mold and develop their pathways for success as both members of a learning community while in school and beyond as they go along in their journey as life-long learners.

To come full circle, blending personal refection with the above professional reflection, my concluding thought and plan will be to celebrate both formally and informally the success accruing to my learners and to myself using the Appreciative Advising framework. This celebration will be simple everyday events such as coffee or tea with a learner as they visit in my office for an academic advising meeting to plan and discuss. The informal will be to continue with a positive approach to my interactions with learners — I feel this is something I have done in the past and will continue to do in the future.

The last way I plan to celebrate the positive outcomes accruing from the learning will be to share the learning with my colleagues with a view towards ‘operationalizing’ the framework within my area, to use a business-type of language. To be fair, this idea when boiled down means to simply incorporate the Appreciative Advising framework into the culture of my area. The celebration will be a daily occurrence and will be borne out of continued learner success.

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References

Bloom, J. L., Hutson, B. L., & He, Y. (2008). The Appreciative Advising Revolution. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing

Borg, M. (2004). The Apprenticeship of Observation. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254765256_The_apprenticeship_of_observation

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