Getting the Most Out of Advisement Period

Thousands of middle and high schools in the U.S. have changed “homeroom” to a block of time called, “Advisement Period.” It’s usually a period anywhere from 25-40 minutes at the start of a day that students can focus on non-academic topics. Or, they can simply waste time. Too often, that’s what I hear is happening.

A 2017 Gallup Education poll on education discovered more than half of students responding said they were disengaged in school. Wow. Twenty-four percent of students said they are “actively disengaged in school” and 29 percent said they are “not engaged.” This was taken from a national pool of 733,471 students in grades 5 to 12.

To be clear, that’s a majority of kids say they’re not engaged at school. Is that OK?

What Makes These Statistics Challenging?

For many educators, advisement period is challenging for the very reasons it was created. Often advisories feel burdensome to teachers and useless to students. They are non-academic, and teachers feel the need to quickly get to academics, to keep their test scores high. Still others recognize the need for anti-bullying programs, safety, suicide prevention, empathy training or character education. So, they randomly cram these discussions into this short block of time.

Many would say “advisement period” is not a meaningful part of the day.

According to EdWeek, “If a school wedges an advisory into its master schedule as ‘just another thing to do’ or a panacea for its school climate problems, students aren’t likely to experience the level of vulnerability necessary to have meaningful conversations or shared experiences there, says Rachel Poliner, a Massachusetts consultant who helps schools design advisory programs.”

So, what are some essentials that set schools up for successful advisories?

Six Criteria for Good Advisement Periods

1. Place chairs in circles, not in rows.

It must look and feel different than their academic experience. In circles, everyone can see one another, and it feels like a conversation—not a presentation.

2. Teachers must receive professional development.

Educators are prepared for academics, but rarely to host vulnerable conversations. Teachers can feel ill-equipped for meaningful discussion, unless training is provided.

3. Students should be allowed to participate in outcomes.

Students often observe where they lack life skills and want to “own” the discussions. As kids choose the direction and the topics, they begin to practice metacognition.

4. Educators should approach this time like mentors.

Advisories must feel like real life, not sterile academic classes. Kids need mentors. Advisory can be an ideal opportunity for personal interaction and life change.

5. The period should be experiential.

Students don’t want another “talking head.” They respond to experiences that spark dialogue. Forget the “sage on the stage.” Go for a “guide on the side” with an experience.

6. Customized curriculum must be available.

Merely cutting and pasting a topics and questions won’t fit most schools. Advisory is perfect to introduce specific leadership, social emotional learning and life skills.

There are many SEL and character education programs out there. All you have to do is Google and search. Over the years, I’ve worked to create conversation starters that are both tailored and organic. They leverage images to start discussion, since pictures are worth a thousand words. (I call them Habitudes®.) Each image represents a principle that I believe students should know before graduation, on issues like resiliency and grit; vision and focus, discipline and self-leadership. You get the idea. Every student can gain something personal since it’s a picture—not a lecture.

Hundreds of high schools and middle schools now host: “HabiTuesdays.” I love this. They’ve chosen a set of our images to launch conversations on the principles that teens need to talk about, but rarely want a lecture on in class. Students are then reminded of the principle via corresponding experiences, posters and video. We love hearing stories of decreased disciplinary incidents and increased student leadership, all because schools leveraged advisement period well.

If you’d like to explore some content that meets the above six criteria, check out: Habitudes—Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes.

New Habitudes Course:
Social & Emotional Learning

Our Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning curriculum uses memorable imagery, real-life stories and practical experiences to teach timeless skills in a way that is relevant to students today. Students are constantly using images to communicate via emojis, Instagram, and Snapchat. Why not utilize their favorite language to bridge the gap between learning and real-life application?

Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning helps middle and high school students:

  • Develop habits of self-discipline and initiative
  • Implement time management skills to do what really counts
  • Plan for personal growth outside the classroom
  • Identify their unique strengths and passions for a healthy self-image
  • And many more social and emotional skills

Click on the link below today to learn more about Habitudes for Social & Emotional Learning!

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Getting the Most Out of Advisement Period