Advice On Advisory & Making A Difference With Students

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Gabby Comer

Being able to get to know each other during advisory is important to building authentic relationships.

Logan Davidson, Staff Writer

“Homeroom is the students main connection and point of contact at school. It provides a positive, friendly, and supportive environment.””

— Helen Stacy

Despite classes changing every semester and every year for Verrado students, one class stays the same through all four years: Advisory. These classes are used to help students learn about things going on at Verrado, gain awareness about topics specific to them, and build a bond with their teacher and other students in the class. As Suzanne Capek Tingley said in her article for Hey Teach!, “No longer just a place for students to check in and talk to friends, [advisory] has evolved into a period where students can start (or end) their day at a safe, supportive home base.,” or as Helen Stacy Middle School puts it, “Homeroom is the students main connection and point of contact at school. It provides a positive, friendly, and supportive environment.” While Verrado’s advisory class lies in the middle of every Tuesday, the “safe, supportive” idea remains the same. This is especially true when teachers take the time to communicate with the students and make them feel included. So while teachers are told to hold lessons on certain weeks, how can this supportive, but engaging environment be created?

One class, in particular, has put in a great amount of effort to create fun and fellowship during advisory periods. In Ms. Meldrum’s advisory class, dubbed “Meldrum’s Mess,” they have participated in various activities over the past few weeks, including making snowman candles, and a holiday potluck party! With that, Ms. Meldrum’s classroom (despite the band instruments) is decorated head to toe with a drum-set Christmas tree, and other little decorations scattered about. On December 6, the students in her advisory walked in to find a table set up with ribbons and white tower candles stacked in a box. Once everyone was seated and attentive she explained the project.

Usually, advisory lessons consist of information for state testing, finals, or even counseling information, but sometimes it’s fun to shake things up! 

The ribbon played as a scarf, while markers that were set out were used to draw on buttons and eyes. Some students even used some black construction paper to make a hat for the candle. This fun activity got every student involved and conversing with other students. At the end, everyone had their own unique snowman candles ready for the holidays. Fun projects like this get the students excited about school life and acts as a nice break in between learning time. Even better, they don’t cost a whole lot of money.

Ribbons can be bought from the Dollar Store, along with markers, while the tower candles can be bought for less than $50 for a class set. This is a great way to celebrate the holiday spirit while also forming teacher-student and student-student connections. These activities are not only for the holiday season, however. During the rest of the school year, students could customize their own flower pots or design their own keychains while in advisory classes. Mrs. Meldrum’s advisory is not the only place that should engage students in fun activities. Keeping entertainment, relaxation, and spontaneity in advisory classes, it allows students to build those meaningful relationships with their teachers that grows and holds a lot of meaning during their four years at Verrado.

It is also important to acknowledge that advisory may be the only constant in a student’s life. Regular classes are only 55 minutes long, with most of that time being focused on learning. This can make it take a bit longer for a teacher and the class to really relate to each other and build the trust that’s necessary for young adults to possess. However, teacher-student relationships are not the only important thing that advisory can bring.

Counselors visiting advisory classes also help build that face-to-face interaction that can help students become more open with their counselors and overall life at Verrado. Ms. Palmgren, the B-wing counselor, makes it a point to routinely check on individual students and classes during the advisory periods. If you are lucky enough to have her as a counselor, chances are, you have witnessed this firsthand. Every few weeks, she stops by each class and meets with students individually to ask how they are doing, checks in on them, and ask if they need help with anything. When speaking with her about her advisory drop-ins, she stated that it is important for her students to know who she is and how she can be of help to them. She also said, “it allows you guys to get to know me and make sure you know in what ways I can help.”After all, every student had to experience a few months, at least, of online school during the pandemic that stripped that sort of connection away from learning.

While Verrado has a plethora of clubs, sports, and events that can engage students, advisory really can be considered the basis of allowing students to experiment with those things. With encouraging advisory teachers and welcoming guidance counselors, Verrado has made itself a place for students to really find themselves, as well as explore their hobbies and interests.