Advisory Groups Foster Student Success at GEMS

This school year GEMS has re-introduced Advisory Groups for its 7th & 8th graders.  Every middle school student needs an adult who knows him or her well and is in a position to give individual attention.

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Why Have an Advisory Group?

Middle schools exist not simply to provide academic work in the core subjects. They are responsible for providing appropriate and necessary support for both the cognitive and affective needs of early adolescents. Well-developed teacher advisory programs provide this necessary support.

There is no single “best” way to begin teacher advisory programs. Beyond the basics – one teacher and a small group of students meeting on a regular basis – the options are almost limitless.  What follows is a detailed description of the “what, how, when and where” of teacher advisory program development.

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What are the Goals of Advisory Groups?

Middle grade schools are designed to promote both the academic and social-emotional development of early adolescents.  The notion that these schools should play an important role in students’ personal development is an accepted part of the middle school concept.

Goals of any educational program are neither static nor absolute. As conditions change, so, too, must goals.  Teacher advisory programs do, however, share certain common goals. They include assisting young adolescents in becoming self-possessed, positive and successful in both life and learning.

All teacher advisory programs should promote student success in school, improve communication between student, school and family, and provide a nurturing experience for each student in the school setting. Finally, teacher advisory programs generally result in improved school climate, bonding between students and between students and teachers.

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When Do Advisory Groups Meet?

As is the case in many schools, schedules for teacher advisory vary depending on the grade configuration, size of the school, and school organization.  For the most part, advisory groups meet at a regularly scheduled time during the day when the advisor and advisees can get together.

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Where do Advisory Groups Meet?

Advisory groups meet throughout the school building in order to reflect a community atmosphere. These meetings can take place in the rooms used by the various teams.

How Do Advisory Groups Get Started?

Advisory experiences should be varied – study skills, interpersonal relationships, career planning, citizenship education, and other experiences that balance the emphasis on the affective and cognitive domains. Advisory programs must evolve from the needs of the students. Advisory experiences should be coordinated – perhaps by an advisory committee – across grade levels in order to prevent duplication and assure that the advisory program addresses needs at varied developmental levels.

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What Does the Teacher Really Do?

Teacher advisories provide an environment and activities that foster acceptance, assist students in setting personal goals, academic goals, develop interpersonal relationships, provide experiences in critical thinking and problem solving, develop communication skills, build self-esteem, accept responsibility, help students become good citizens, and provide opportunities for meaningful dialogue.  Teacher advisories should establish a rapport in order to get to know students on a personal level. They promote communication between home and school and plan activities that will assist students in growing socially, emotionally, and intellectually. The teacher advisor serves as a caring adult and plays a major role in a school.

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