An Advisor/Advisee Program is:
“an effective educational program designed to focus on the social, emotional, physical, intellectual, psychological, and ethical development of students; a program providing a structured time during which special activities are designed adn implemented to help adolescents find ways to fulfill thier identified needs; intended to provide consistent, caring, and continuous adult guidance at school through the organization of a supportive and stable peer group that meets regularly under the guidance of a teacher serving as advisor”(Forte & Schurr, 1993, p.117)
“An advisory period merely offers the possibility of ‘advice’ given and taken. What happens within that opportunity is the nub of it. Fuzzy but fundamental qualities of caring and honesty, attentiveness both to the immediate and to a young person’s future, empathy, patience, knowing when to draw the line, the expression of disappointment or anger or forgiveness when such is deserved– indeed, those qualities which characterize us as humans rather than programmed robots– mark the essence of a school that is at once compassionate, respectful, and efficient”(Sizer, 1992, p.45).
What is the purpose of an Advisory?
Successful advisory programs have a clearly defined purpose or purposes that all members of the community understand and support. There are many different purposes an advisory program can be designed to meet and therefore no two advisory programs will look alike. Each individual school must determine what it values and what it hopes to foster within its community. Listed below are some commonly stated purposes of advisory programs, each of which can foster personalization of a student’s school experience.
- To advise students about academic decisions and monitor academic achievement
- To provide developmental guidance (both formal and informal)
- To foster communication between the home and school and among members of the school community
- To encourage supportive peer relationships and practice conflict resolution
- To promote an awareness of diversity and tolerance
- To undertake community service both within and outside the school
- To facilitate community governance and conversations
- To prepare students for life transitions including career development and post-secondary opportunities
- To promote character development and explore moral dilemmas
- To explore the process of group development and have fun.
“Secondary administrators and teachers have long understood the advantages of positive relationships between educators and students. Trust, respect, mutual obligation, and concern for others’ welfare can have powerful effects on educators’ and learners’ interpersonal relationships as well as learners’ academic achievement and overall school progress” (Manning & Saddlemire, 1996, p.41).
What does it look like in our school?
- Both of the schools have approached it differently. It is part of the culture at our middle school where this year each teacher is attached to 15 students as our advisory. Advisory happens for 20 minutes 4 days a week. It is in advisory that students build community, focus on study skills, do conflict resolution, monitor academic development. In our advisory, we work in a community circle daily.
- In the high school, the advisory has had mixed success. We have tried a number of variations and the format this year is a “hook” class where teachers are assigned a group of 15 students for 6 weeks and focus on a topic of their choice (for example, Afganistan, ICT, sex.ed, bootcamp, etc). The students change their ‘hook’ often throughout the year.
I am a firm believer in the power of advisory and have had a great deal of success with my advisories. It is a place I can address social skills, conflict resolution, world issues, and academic success. I also enjoy being in contact with parents and feeling a sense of attachment to the success of a group of young people. Advisory is not easy, but when it goes smoothly, it is so powerful.
A-Z advisory & affective education(1993) by Imogene Forte and Sandra Schurr.
High School Advisory Program: the Roosevelt Roads Experience (1996) by Manning and Saddlemire
Horace’s School: Redesigning the American High School (1992) by Theodore R. Sizer.
Posted: October 19th, 2010 in Advisory | No Comments »
Forming a community circle is probably the most important part of our advisory. It is the place where we do ‘check-ins’, build inclusion, influence and community through fun activities and reflections, and address more serious topics. In this community circle we played “I Sit In a Chair with My Friend” so I could work on learning names, practicing the Tribes agreements and building inclusion.
- Have students sit in a circle leaving one chair empty
- Have students move into the empty chair in succession saying: student #1: “I sit” (move to empty seat), student #2: “in a chair” (moves), #3 “with my friend (moves) x…(names a student)”
- The student whose name is called moves into the empty chair and sits down
- Those students sitting on either side of the empty chair race to move into it saying, “I sit” and it continues.
Great way to mix up seating, get them moving/energized. We asked our questions after this activity: ”Name one thing good in your world”, “One concern”.
We ended with an energizer- “10″.
Posted: October 18th, 2010 in Advisory | No Comments »
I was asked to come into an advisory to run some tribes activities. This is always a fun task as I get to join a class as a ‘stranger’, get to know the students and debrief/reflect with the advisor afterwards. For this advisory, I began by getting them to form a community circle as quickly as possible. Believe it or not, but this is the most difficult part of circling up! I remember one advisory I had- 25 boys and 7 girls- it took us weeks before we could get the ‘forming our community circle’ down to under 2 minutes and without any incidents. It is important to not give up if it goes badly for quite a while. Incidentally, it took us most of the first term to be able to handle a simple ‘one ball toss’ activity, but we were ecstatic when it actually happened smoothly and without anyone acting too silly. Baby steps.
This advisory was great! We started in our community circle with a quick introduction- their name and something they like to do (hobby). I introduced our ‘talking stick’– and we went over the 4 Tribes agreements. Once we had reflected on the social skill used (attentive listening in particular), I asked 3 questions:
- the subject they liked most at school & why
- the subject they liked least at school & why
- The one thing they were most worried about in middle school
I started out fairly non-personal. Some students chose to pass, but I was pleased that by the time we did the 3rd question, all students answered and we got some really honest answers. Failing, bullying, homework, peer pressure and relationships were the most often discussed. There is a lot on the minds of these young people and it certainly isn’t only individual subjects; they discussed having a lot of pressure and stress put on them by their parents and teachers. Definitely something to think about.
We ended the community circle with a fun game “One to ten” just to lighten things up before they left and got the room back in order. It was a great group and I hope to get back in there soon!
One to Ten (Ten)
- groups form a tight circle. Students, in order, are to count to 10; each student may say 1, 2, or 3 numbers in counting. The student who has to say “10″ sits down. The last person standing wins.
Posted: October 18th, 2010 in Advisory, Tribes | No Comments »
I finally spent time with my grade 8 advisory today. Although I was present during the first days of school in late August, I haven’t been back to work with them since then. I am paired with a colleague who is working 80% so I cover one of her advisory periods when I’m not doing workshops or at Board commitments; it is great to get back in the classroom and try out some of these activities I have learned on middle school students. As an advisory, they have been working on Tribes energizers and building community in the classroom. It is difficult for me to build this sense of connection as I do not have a consistent advisory, but only see them once a week for the 23 minutes rather than the regular four days a week. What is great this year at the school is that the number of students in an advisory has been changed from 30 (0r 33 as I’ve had before) to 15 and every teacher is assigned an advisory. What a difference this has made! My focus for today’s advisory was simply community building and having ‘fun’ together.
We started off today’s advisory in a circle (as we always do) and began with a name game- They introduce their name with an adjective that starts with the same letter as their first name and describes them: For example, “Athletic Andrew” because I play football, hockey and baseball. What I like about this game is that it gives me a little bit more insight into their perception of themselves and if you are having trouble, the class can help out. This is a great segue into the 4 Tribes agreements (with particular emphasis on the second agreement!):
- attentive listening
- appreciation/no put downs
- mutual respect, and
- the right to pass
After this name game, we did a reflection on how it felt for people to hear other suggestions for their names (positive and negative) and we looked at how jokes can be hurtful and the importance of No put downs. We have some work to do, but it is grade 8! After this we played Hands Up to 85 and 1 to 10 to try and focus on the agreements and working collaboratively. It was a great start, but there was a lot of chatting and I think I will look at doing some Attentive Listening work next.
Posted: October 15th, 2010 in Advisory | No Comments »