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The Value of An Advisory

The Value of An Advisory

Written by Dan Dafoe, Success by Design CEO.

Advisory time is certainly not a new concept, especially in high schools. A growing number of schools have embraced this idea, and are reporting great success (HS Advisory Research Brief)

According to psychiatrist William Glasser, “schools fail to engage more than half the students because they fail to fulfill four basic human needs for students: to belong and love, to gain power, to be free, and to have fun. (Research Brief)” A successful Advisory program will fill those needs.

Before continuing, I think it's best to get define Advisory. Defining an Advisory time/period/program would itself be a long article if we discussed the different approaches, implementations, and ideas behind it. For our purposes in this article I’m describing: A regularly scheduled time period during the school day set aside for teachers to meet with smaller groups of students in order to “advise” them on classes, future planning, or social/character issues. The loose purpose of advisory time is to insure that at least one adult in the school is connected with each student ensuring their needs are being met at the school.

There are countless ways to implement advisory time based on many factors, of which I will not be getting into. Recourses abound to help with this implementation, some of which are below.

Many of the resources in the field dedicated to Advisory are centered on high school students, and there’s no doubt high school is an excellent place for this idea. However, middle schools should not be left out. Many middle schools have a homeroom, and many of the ideas of an advisory time are at home in that setting.

A great article written by Sara Brody Shulkind and Jack Foote was published in the Middle School Journal in September 2009, and then re-published by the Associate for Middle Level Education (AMLE) on their website. It is a worthwhile read if you are a middle school educator thinking about implementation of an Advisory. This article does a fantastic job outlining the characteristics of effective advisors and advisory programs specifically in a middle school setting:  

  • Strong advisory programs address issues of community.
  • Strong advisories promote open communication.
  • Strong advisors know and care about their advisees.
  • Strong advisors closely supervise their advisees’ academic progress.
  • Strong advisors are problem solvers and advice givers.
  • Students and advisors perceive that advisory directly improves academic performance.
  • Students and advisors perceive that advisory functions as a community of learners.

  I can tell you, every educator I have spoken to about advisories, either loves them in their school, is pushing to have them implemented, or is in talks about how they can get a solid program started. Success by Design would love to hear from you! Let us know what works for you! Leave a comment below and lets start the discussion.  

Resources: What is Advisory?

Creating a Culture of Connectedness Through Middle School Advisory Programs

Research Paper on High School Advisories from The Principals’ Partnership

Advice About Middle School Advisories

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