The Latest on This Year’s Advisory Schedule
BY JOY WANG '23
Advisory is an unquestionable aspect of ABRHS student life. Yet, there has been more experimentation with the frequency and structure of the period recently. Two years ago, advisories met every Tuesday, where students gathered in classrooms to connect with each other and their advisor, a faculty member. Last year, the school set daily advisory periods in both the remote and in-person learning programs while mixing students of different grades. But changes occurred once again this September: advisory has now become a monthly activity. While only two monthly advisories have occurred so far, the recent changes raise questions of advisory’s purpose and how it can be used most effectively.
According to Mrs. Rosenman, school counselor and wellness coordinator, the goals of advisory have changed over the years. Initially, the period was intended to create opportunities for students to connect with a teacher who did not grade them and to interact with other students they may not share classes with. Additionally, it created space for students to unwind during the day, participate in school-wide activities, focus on mental wellness, and meet state-mandated anti-bullying education. Those goals still remain relevant today, but student-staff opinions and the current low frequency of meetings have created new challenges to overcome.
The administration is trying to balance various priorities this year, as “elevating student voice[s] is more important schoolwide,” Mrs. Rosenman explains. In order to connect all the students and educators, advisory classroom sizes will increase to a standard classroom size in an “unfortunate trade off.” However, this does not mean less emphasis on interpersonal connections, nor is it overlooking the importance of wellness. The administration’s School Improvement Plan aims to use advisory to address student engagement, inclusive practices, and social emotional learning. As such, the School Wellness Advisory Committee (SWAC) formed in 2018 to compare models used by other schools and discuss implementation at ABRHS. In short, advisory aims to constantly evolve to meet the needs of the community, and this year is another chapter in the experimentation process.
When asked about their experiences in previous years, some students reported participating in a wide variety of activities: they baked, played games, and wrote cards. During the Student Council meeting on October 20, members also had positive memories to reminisce on and reported feeling generally more comfortable when advisories met frequently with peers of the same grade.
However, several students reported something akin to a silent study hall experience. Other responses reflected frustration and boredom with watching videos or having an extended advisory period; they found it difficult to connect to other students they met infrequently in a non-interactive environment. Even topic-specific advisory groups, such as the remote music interest advisory held last year, were met with disappointment as some students felt the subject was not always the focus of the period.
The strength—but also weakness—of the thirty-minute period lies in its flexible agenda. In order to truly appeal to and build rapport among the student body, advisory periods ought to be multifaceted. Students are not a monolithic group, and some enjoy advisory in all its forms while others see no purpose in the period. Therefore, it is important to consider how advisory can be used to the benefit of all students as well as what advisors need to do for the period to be a positive experience. Advisories can be used for team-building activities, mental wellness time, educational presentations, and much more. But it is the ABRHS community’s responsibility to determine its place and purpose.
Since the beginning of the 2021 school year, students have only experienced a couple of advisories, so it may be too early to draw conclusions. It remains to be seen how the monthly advisories will generally be used—it is only with time that these periods will be refined to appeal to student interest