I was recently asked to facilitate a middle school (grades 6, 7, 8- 720 students) leadership team as they developed plans for a newly implemented advisory program. They had decided the previous school year to design advisories so that teachers would keep a group of students for three years.
Searching for some material to spark their thinking, I found the following:
-an article in the August 29,2007 Education Week titled Pittsburgh Building ‘Nation of 9th Graders’. It detailed how incoming freshman took part in a week long summer orientation designed to target teenagers’ hearts as well as their heads. The 9th Grade Nation focuses on building a freshman class that moves through school feeling supported and confident. It is part of Pittsburgh’s plan for high school reform.
-the website for Brandon Valley Middle School in South Dakota which describes their advisor/advisee program called BEST Time-Becoming Exceptional Students and Teachers. This site describes BEST’s rational, goals and objectives, advisor responsibilities, and advisory activities.
After exploring the above and sharing their personal experiences and beliefs, as well as the initial responses from staff and students, this leadership team decided to hold advisories for the next 15 weeks (every Friday afternoon for one hour) built around the following guidelines. A task force is established to gather input during that time for a midyear assessment and possible modification.
Advisor/Advisee program purpose:
-Students’ sense of support and caring
-Bonding with staff, students, parents
-Relating to students’ generation
-Trust with at least one adult
-Enjoyment at school
-Comfort at school
-Staff and student connectedness
Students should find that the program will:
-help them learn more about themselves
-help give guidance in their growth as a person
-help better understand friends and classmates
-help set personal goals, make decisions, and solve problems
-help make school a more caring and sharing place to be
-help develop better relationships between students and teachers
-help create a feeling of belonging
Advisory activities will focus on three areas:
I. Activities that create opportunities for the staff to KNOW students well
II. Activities that provide students opportunities to learn and practice critical life, community and school skills
III. Activities that create fun, belonging and team spirit
How does their initial plan match your program or your thinking?