A student advisory program was introduced into the Middle School at ASFM for the first time in fall of 2011. Since then, I have been an active supporter of the program as well as a contributor. My background in the concept of advisory stems from my work in Connecticut charter schools where we effectively used advisory concepts to nurture relationships in the student body and between students and teachers.
My initial contribution to the program came through the introduction of the Circle of Power and Respect model that is introduced in The Advisory Book. This became the standard paradigm through which we have trained teachers in advisory here at ASFM.
Later, I became the grade level advisory coordinator. I only held this post for one semester while another teacher was away on leave, but I truly enjoyed the work. I also gained some insight into the challenges that arise in regards to this program in our school. The coordinators job is to create an advisory curriculum for the grade level teachers, but the challenge is different teachers are more or less successful with different types of lessons. Some teachers like to use games. Some prefer discussions. Some like to let the students take the lead. Others are uncomfortable with such an approach. The true challenge is in creating something a lesson that is structured enough that everyone has a good idea of the expected outcomes, and flexible enough that teachers can tailor the lesson to their own preferred teaching style and for the personalities of their particular groups.
This process is organic and evolving and I am glad to be a continued support for our current advisory curriculum team. It is a vital component of our Middle School Program that deserves much more attention than it often receives.