The Morse Code

Creating a Better Advisory for Everyone

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Tiger Learning Communities (TLC) began this year with the goal of creating connections between students and teachers. Since then, numerous issues have arisen. Some students complain that their teachers do nothing; others say it is just a study hall with no connecting going on. As TLC quickly approaches its ninth week, the Editorial Board of the Morse Code has compiled suggestions for students and teachers and key points for the TLC Committee to address in their upcoming meeting.

To the TLC Committee:

We recognize that advisory is a much-needed addition to our campus. A respectable amount of work has gone into creating the program, and it holds a lot of potential, but is not currently being seen in such a light. Many students complain that it is a waste of time and that they’re not getting anything out of it. Central to changing this unfavorable view of advisory is understanding why some students and teachers feel the way they do. Students may not understand the purpose of advisory, and being unaware of the long-term goals may make them feel as though they have no need to participate or that it is an inefficient use of time. Teachers can attribute most mishaps regarding advisory to technical issues, but no one is to blame for this.

With students as the focus of advisory, it would be beneficial to have student input on what lessons are taught and when. Surveys, while an efficient way of gathering student input, take place after the fact. It is imperative that students are aware of the schedule beforehand and have a say in its production. Currently, seniors are looking for more college-focused lessons or alternatives to college. The lessons on coping skills, while thoughtful, may be more beneficial to have at another time. Introducing lessons in a timely manner can also be said for other grade levels. Knowing what students want and when they want it will make them feel included in the process, and thus more connected to advisory. Done right, it can also ensure the lesson for the day is taught, as both students and teachers will be fully aware of it ahead of time. Additionally, changing the twenty-minute time period, which is widely seen as awkward and not long enough to get things done, is instrumental in years going forward.

We are aware that as a trial run, it is important to have constant feedback so improvements can be made. However, there is a concern that the lessons are not meeting the long-term goals of advisory, which is to create a more connected campus. More interactive and collaborative lessons that students can relate to and will resonate with them, may stick longer than surveys and worksheets. Most discussions tend to lag as the group dynamic is still relatively new and being accustomed to, so having lessons that build on communication and bonding early in the year, and gradually building on it, will be more beneficial in the long run. Keep in mind that many students appreciate the topics of the current lessons and believe that they do have potential.

To Teachers:

Advisory will only work if everyone involved is putting in effort. Many mishaps can be attributed to technical errors, such as links not loading and computers unwilling to connect to the internet, and other factors like distracted students. However, being a good example will set a precedent for students, even if they don’t seem to notice it. Teachers are as much a part of advisory as the students, and its success relies on everyone putting forth effort to reach the same goal, which is to create a more connected community and create a path for students to become their best selves. Some teachers are giving their students extra materials to aid in their success, while others are disregarding lessons plans and letting students use it as a study hall. This divide in effort is causing advisory to struggle. Teachers need to hold each other accountable and ensure that no one is slacking and everyone has what they need to host a successful advisory period. Be open-minded about the situation. Take part in advisory to showcase what you, your students, and the program are capable of.

To Students:

Advisory exists for your benefit. Nothing works perfectly on the first try, and advisory can truly improve the Morse community, given support and time. Giving advisory a shot will benefit everyone in the end, as its main purpose is to create a supportive environment for students while equipping them with the skills they need to be productive teens, and eventually, adults. Students will get more out of lessons, teachers will get to interact with students they may have never seen otherwise, and the TLC committee will have the opportunity to work alongside everyone involved to create a program that focuses on the good of the students and the lifting the school as a whole.

Many students are struggling emotionally, even if it isn’t noticeable or talked about. Building connections will give them the support they need to make it through the day. Helping one another will only benefit everyone involved, and the first step can be getting to know the other students in your advisory.

Students who have difficulty participating in group activities, may it be from shyness, being uncomfortable with others in the group, or just having an off day, can contribute simply by being engaged. Paying attention goes a long way – even if nothing is thought of it. Participation will also lead to honest feedback, which can only move advisory forward in the right direction.

Take into consideration the amount of work it took to create this program, and what can happen as a result if taken seriously. Changes won’t happen overnight, but a gradual shift in the perception of advisory will be rewarding for everyone involved.

 

Please send your feedback as a letter to the editor. All opinions are appreciated and will go towards building a better advisory.

5 Comments

5 Responses to “Creating a Better Advisory for Everyone”

  1. Paula Johnes on October 23rd, 2018 12:05 pm

    Rewind to day one: everyone learns names. Constant rewards: What does Allen like? Authors What does Sophia sip? Soda water. Toss a fun sized Snickers. Today you sit with someone new. Introduce to your “bestie” in the class. While my students appear engaged,( I do my best) I fear loneliness and doubt still reside. I voted for advisory and will work for its success.

  2. Katherine Banuelos on October 23rd, 2018 1:43 pm

    I really love the fact that Morse Code continues to keep advisory on its radar, as we value student voices and their opinions on planning the future lessons for TLC. The good news is the team of teachers and counselors who are on the TLC committee are meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25th. I will suggest to the Chair, Ms. Nemecek, that we provide some time on this Thursday to listen to the concerns and suggestions from Morse Code students. If a few students can come over, we would be happy to take some time to take your feedback into consideration. We have already offered students and staff opportunities to provide feedback via surveys but any additional feedback would greatly help us fine tune the lessons for advisory. Unfortunately, I believe the most important factor, the short time frame, cannot be resolved until next year. I think we can repair things this current year by catering more to socio-emotional needs of our students and more team building activities. Thank you for bringing light to TLC as we continue to refine and improve the process for the Morse Community.

  3. John STAFF Kennett STAFF on October 23rd, 2018 2:53 pm

    At Sci tech at SD High our advisory was once a week for 45 minutes.
    Curriculum was provided by counselors and ALL materials were provided to us. No prep , no hunting for this or that and ALL were on the same topic each week. We did a lot with naviance on computer and when done, homework was done etc..
    I got to know a lot of kids and I never felt the pressure of trying to find the lesson or if the lesson was appropriate to my class.

  4. Mr. Houze on October 23rd, 2018 3:24 pm

    Overall, I like advisory and would like to continue it. I think more time should be spent in the beginning learning each other’s names. (That took me some time). Also, in my advisory we had a good discussion about bullying, so I think some days do not require a video, worksheet, or survey, but just some time to do a Think, Pair, Share about an important topic and talk about it. Another suggestion would be to have the week after progress reports and semester grades to have time discussing grades. While my students spent time writing about what they will do to maintain their grades or bring them up, I called up students individually and we looked at their grades and discussed strategies as to how they can get their grade up in certain classes. This took me two and a half advisory periods, but it was well worth it. I also like the Hispanic and Filipino American Month advisory lessons, and the lessons about having a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset. Again, I think advisory is a great place for students and teachers to get to know each other and learn from each other, and I hope both teachers and students can take advantage of the time.

  5. Cameron Saly on October 25th, 2018 8:34 am

    We need to be able to do homework

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