The topic of advisory periods in a master schedule at a junior high or high school is a topic that I have seen come up so many times. I think an advisory period, at its core, is a positive thing for kids that almost no one will ever object to if they understand what it actually is. However, I do think the misconceptions that sometimes are associated with an advisory period are the reason stakeholders may be apprehensive about them.
In my opinion - Advisory class periods should NOT be:
1) Study hall - I think this is the most common misconception, and also the most dangerous to deflate the idea of adding an Advisory class period. An advisory class period should be a time to focus on relationships and focusing on social emotional standards. It should not be a time for academics and to do classroom assignments.
2) RTI - Trying to find the right way to add the additional support of a Response to Intervention time in a master schedule is a problem I understand and respect. This issue only becomes compounded when educators lose focus of the fact that RTI should be an addition to the core, and the added instructional time should take place outside of instructional time within math and/or language arts. However, by making RTI synonymous with advisory it completely disregards what an advisory period is supposed to be.
3) A meaningless or unnecessary part of the day - I am almost convinced that any educator that doesn't appreciate, and even love, an advisory period simply doesn't understand it OR a school has not set it up in the correct way. Working with kids is FUN, and unnecessarily regulating an advisory class with any expectation other than interacting with kids is very unfortunate. However, giving any type of impression either directly, or through implication, that it is a "fluff" period of time during the day is also inherently wrong, too.
On the other hand - In my opinion - Advisory class periods should be:
SIMPLE - An advisory period gets so unnecessarily complicated for reasons I am not sure, but I think it is based upon common misconceptions listed above. I genuinely believe the core reason so many educators enter the field is to connect with students. Based upon this premise, I think a successful advisory class period really only needs to be driven by 3 basic phrases that an advisory teacher should use in some way every single day. They are the following and their simplicity is a positive thing.
* How are you?
* Are you ok?
* I care about you.
The most successful and true advisory periods only need a teacher to be placed with a small group of students and to engage in conversations both individually and in a group setting based upon those 3 phrases.
About the Author
Dr. Sutton is a veteran educator and a current district superintendent. His passion and background align best with middle school grade levels and instructional best practices.
My book Make Professional Development Matter is meant to be a guide for educators to ensure professional learning aligns with improving instruction. I share past experiences that support and create my core values as an educator, and the research that correlates to them.
Twitter - @DrNickSutton