Based on the success of the collaborative ninth grade advisor cohort launched last year, we developed a pilot for upper class advisors as well. Using the GDS mission statement and our “a GDS student will…” statements, along with the established benchmarks and events that set the pace for our school year, we developed a weekly advisory agenda that uses reflective practice to create meaningful purpose for the advisory program. By providing a structure that enhances relationships between advisors and advisees and enough flexibility to account for the individuality of those relationships, this program fosters the strength of character and community norms that are core to GDS.
The upper class advisory program is anchored by monthly themes that correspond with GDS customs (such as our five core assemblies) and mirror the rhythm of our school year. Each week, we provide advisors with a guiding idea and possible activities based on monthly themes (examples include: goal setting, gratitude, building relationships, freedom). Advisors follow an agenda that includes a relaxation exercise, an individual reflective practice, a group reflective practice, and a group activity (outlined below).
Upperclass Advisory Weekly Agenda Outline:
- Relaxation Exercise (1 minute) – Advisor will start meeting with relaxation technique of their choice – Advisor may chose to use the same technique each week or try different techniques.
- Individual Reflective Practice (5 minutes) – Each week suggested prompts (tied to a guiding principle for the week) will be emailed – Advisor will use reflective practice of their choice
- Group Share (5 minutes) – Some weeks, suggestions will be provided. Other weeks, Advisor will use a group share technique of their choice.
- Activity (10 minutes) – Each week, suggested activities (tied to a guided principle for the week) will be emailed.
- Wrap-up (2 minutes) – Advisors will use this time for announcements, setting up weekly meetings, looking ahead to the next meeting, etc.
Through their enthusiasm and individual styles of advising, advisors have brought to life the foundational structure we created.
“The outlined agenda provides the overall ideas for my group’s meeting, and it is flexible enough that I can tailor it to my advisees’ personalities,” explained one upper class advisor. Another advisor commented, “The structure allows me to focus more on each of my individual advisees’ needs and encourages my advisees to interact intentionally and with purpose.” Some ninth grade advisors have picked up on the excitement and have begun using a modified version of the upper class advisor program.
We plan to use our own reflective practice while gathering feedback from advisors throughout the fall semester to inform our plan for the spring semester.