The Bark

Advisory Helpful but Inconsistent?

Zack Goller, The Bark Reporter

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Every Tuesday after third period, students gather in small groups of around 20 students in a period known as Advisory. Every week during Advisory, there is a specific life lesson from student leaders that attempt to help these students as they proceed in managing their school life. These lessons range from bullying and consequences of drug abuse to looking for a job and applying for colleges. English teacher Kim Stubbe and assistant principal Courtney Macko take on the fairly difficult task of organizing these lessons on a weekly basis.

“The overall purpose of Advisory is to give more personalization to the students because we only have three counselors for every student,” said Stubbe.

U.S. History and Civics teacher Jeanie Wallace expanded on Stubbe’s purpose when she said that “advisory and its lessons makes sure no student slips through the cracks.”

The concept, in theory, certainly sounds helpful. But there’s one small issue: inconsistency.

Some students view Advisory as a more beneficial time to hold special school-wide events including class officer elections, registration for new classes, and the annual Day of Respect that began two years ago.

Some students don’t feel safe in Advisory if they are grouped with people that they’re not comfortable with. Varunjit Singh, a senior, voiced his concerns about the people that were placed in his Advisory class and gave his opinion on how it can make a student feel more safe in this sort of environment.

“We should be allowed to choose people you’re comfortable with in Advisory,” he said.

While there are some Advisory groups have a good time in class because of the implementation of the weekly lessons and how everyone in the group gets involved with them, there are some that think that Advisory lessons need to have a little bit more variation. Jacob Goller, a freshman, is one of these students.

“In the beginning, the lessons were helpful but now they lack new topics to discuss,” he said.

There are also some that think Advisory can be monotonous sometimes. The special events that occur during Advisory occur only on very rare occasions–so these students view the rest of the time during Advisory as intervals of awkward in-between time to lounge around, be unproductive, or even utilize it as extra tutorial time to work on spare homework.

Teachers, along with the ASB leaders for each group, implement the lessons in various ways to try and make it enjoyable for their group. Some teachers know their group so well that the lessons are even modified to make the lessons work for that particular group.

These teachers and their ASB leaders often do succeed in achieving the goal of their implementations in some cases. AP World History and Civics teacher Howard Barnes is one of these teachers.

“I’m glad that my Advisory class is really cooperative,” Barnes said. “I have two really good student helpers this year as well, Andie Koldewyn and Kateryna Ivashchenko. They’re the best leaders I’ve had; they really help a lot.”

Ivashchenko and Koldewyn, both seniors and student Advisory leaders, use some great strategies in teaching the weekly lessons and motivating the students in Barnes’ class.

“We motivate them with candy as a reward for participating,” said Ivashchenko. “We control them, but not in a strict way. We also emphasize the importance of grades and Andie and I share life experiences of our own with them to connect with them.”

That Advisory class definitely knows what it’s doing and the class enjoyable for them as a result. But the thing is, Advisory should be more enjoyable for everybody all the time, not just in certain instances.  Felipe Svensson, a junior, offered his input on how Advisory lessons can be implemented to connect with teenagers more easily.

“Not very many lesson plans have come across to the class easily and the class starts to lose focus,” said Svensson. “Some lessons are important, but they should come across as a big deal.”

Inability to connect with students is another one of the many changes that students want to Advisory for next year along with many other changes.

“The teachers meet every year about Advisory and suggest changes,” said Wallace, “We just had that meeting the other day, actually.”

Some of these changes that Wallace mentioned that came up during this meeting included improved training for the student teachers and having teachers dedicated to teaching a certain grade level every year instead of being one student’s Advisory teacher for all four years of their high school career.

Those changes certainly sound reasonable from the teacher’s side of things. But what about from a student’s perspective?

 “There should be more fun lesson plans that will reach teens more easily,” Svensson said. “Once we have fun lessons, and people willing to give these lessons, Advisory should improve.”

Advisory is something that has been very inconsistent this year. The lessons are definitely useful, sure, but they are very hard to connect with teenagers and should come across to the students as something more meaningful than it is right now.

“I think it all depends on the teacher,” said Barnes. “They have to maintain control during class and still treat Advisory like a classroom.”

Stubbe is aware of the simplicity of these lessons and has ideas of how to change that for next year.

“For next year, we are looking to increase the complexity of the lessons by adding more elements to it,” she said.

The simplicity and teacher implementation of the lessons seems to have been the primary causes of this inconsistency in Advisory. Once the teacher implementations of the lessons become more able to connect to the students and the lessons themselves become less simplistic, Advisory should feel a lot more consistent and more meaningful to teenagers like us.

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Advisory Helpful but Inconsistent?