MS Advisory: Sets Students Up for Success

posted Mar 18, 2016, 10:19 AM by Suzanne WARDINI   [ updated Mar 18, 2016, 10:23 AM ]

Middle School Advisory 
Sets Students Up for Success 

The middle school advisory program addresses student social and emotional needs so students can focus on learning.

An advisory is made up of approximately 11 students and 1 teacher who meet 4 times a week for 25 minute advisory lessons. The 5th day of the week, students meet either as a whole middle school community or they gather with their individual house group. House groups have approximately 11 students and 1 teacher but unlike the advisories, these groups are a mix of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in the same house group.

One of the primary goals of the advisory program is to build strong social emotional skills in every student. The core SEL skills are self-management, social awareness, self-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills. But how can students build these skills? It is through exposure to information, structures and strategies often via YouTube videos or journal articles followed by discussion and role-plays.

A variety of units have been taught this year in advisory. Some examples include knowing your student handbook, making SMART goals, identifying your learning style, building your study skills, engaging in service learning, developing self-regulation, overcoming stress, building healthy relationships, effectively working in groups, treating self and others with respect, managing conflicts, and starting next Thursday students will be exploring careers.

A secondary but vital goal is to help strengthen relationships between and among students and teachers. A wonderful example of this is today’s advisory lesson. Students have requested an opportunity to talk about security during advisory. This demonstrates that our students feel empowered to name their needs and confident that their teachers will be able to provide that support via the advisory program.

Today’s advisory lesson will give students a safe place to talk about their feelings and for staff to share what ISD is doing to keep our community safe. Students will also hear about the importance of choosing sources that are reliable and learning to focus on facts in order to be better informed. There will be discussion about monitoring students media intake as too much can lead to unnecessary anxiety. Students will be reminded that groups of people should not be judged by the actions of a few. Finally, teachers will help students consider ways in which they can begin to work toward building peace first in our community and then helping to foster it in our world.

Recent research has shown that helping our students develop strong social and emotional skills will improve academic achievement and strengthen student learning behaviors. When ISD students have a safe place to talk about their feelings and a caring teacher to listen to their concerns, then they are better able to focus on learning.

Please check out the attached document if you are interested in the talking points used for today’s advisory discussion.

“Joe Durlak of Loyola University (Chicago) and Roger Weissberg of the University of Illinois at Chicago have recently completed a research synthesis of 300 studies of such programs. The research clearly demonstrates that SEL programming significantly improves children’s academic performance on standardized tests. Moreover, compared to control groups, children who have participated in SEL programs have significantly better school attendance records, less disruptive classroom behavior, like school more, and perform better in school.”

Taken from

Suzanne WARDINI,
Mar 18, 2016, 10:19 AM