An Update on Advisory
BY SOPHIA SAGHIR '24
In adapting to the pandemic, advisory has been a chameleon, taking on various shapes over the last few years. Though its frequency has changed from daily to monthly to weekly, its purpose remains rooted in supporting student and community needs. While pandemic-driven adaptations have misconstrued this definition, advisory ultimately intends to provide another opportunity for students to find organized support at AB—a goal that teachers are trying to accomplish this school year.
Twelve years ago, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) strongly encouraged schools to adopt an advisory period. At the time, there was a nationwide trend in education to try to find ways for students to feel connected, and advisory seemed like the perfect solution. Specifically, at ABRHS, it was designed to be a space for students to connect with a school-affiliated adult that they did not normally interact with or receive grades from. Significantly, advisors were meant to be people students felt comfortable confiding in.
Before COVID-19, advisories were split by grade level and the groups of students remained consistent from year to year. In advisory, administrators could share school-wide announcements, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion news, social and emotional learning, and anti-bullying initiatives. Usually, advisory served as a short break in students’ Tuesdays where they could relax, recharge with a snack, and bond with their peers.
However, as the school’s structure morphed to fit to the pandemic’s agenda, advisory did too. During this period, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education increased the total amount of hours needed for the entire school year, so instead of increasing the time spent in class, ABRHS administration chose to revamp the advisory period. From 2020–2021, in-person advisory groups met every day as an extension of students’ second-period classes. Remote students also met daily based on interest groups, such as music, knitting, and baseball, but Zoom had its limitations, and it proved difficult for students to stay engaged during these online advisories.
During the 2021–2022 school year, advisories met once a month with all-new advisory teachers and advisory classmates. Advisory returned to serve its pre-pandemic purposes, but it was difficult for teachers to get to know their students due to infrequency and large class sizes.
Taking these concerns into consideration, the newly formed advisory leaders—Ms. Chartier, Mr. Donaldson, Mr. Gwin and Ms. Jeannotte—hope to realign advisory’s purpose back to the NEASC’s original intent: to forge connections and create a stronger community.
The advisory leaders recognize that although ice breakers, Kahoots, and school culture surveys may seem trivial at the moment, these measures will eventually create an environment where students can simply get to know each other and be comfortable. The consistency in weekly advisory meetings is meant to create a safe space that leads to more sincere and honest conversations, and they plan to keep the same classes to create a deeper and more meaningful bond between students. Mr. Donaldson emphasizes that “culture and connections aren’t created instantaneously. It’s going to take a significant period of time, and hopefully we’re on that path.”