Advisory

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This was something I wrote for a class on education on the topic of Advisory, a portion of Middle School classes devoted to helping students with their nonacademic lives.

After reading the articles on advisory programs and classroom management, I do think that I could be a good advisory teacher. I think I listen well, and don’t lose my temper easily. There are friends who have known me for years who have never heard me shout in anger (although that may be because I haven’t dealt with classes of 30+ students.) I believe myself to be empathetic. I can respect different perspectives and understandings of the world.

I do also appreciate the significance of advisory. I can understand how the buddy system (an approach where students get mentors from higher classes) can be particularly useful, with the younger children naturally respecting upperclassmen, and the other students benefiting from being placed in a position of responsibility. It would also be better for me as a teacher to know more about the students and their concerns, due to how the personal affects the academic. While I wouldn’t understand what’s going on with every student, I think knowing what some of them are going through would make me more sensitive to the difficulties of the rest.

There would be some things I’d have to work on. I do have a sarcastic sense of humor. I don’t think I’m the type to say “Good job” to someone who didn’t succeed, but I might assume that someone who did well in a project understands that I’m kidding when I pretend not to be impressed. I feel uncomfortable doing anything that can be interpreted as rewarding disruptive behavior (IE- telling a loud kid that I admire his independence) even though I can intellectually accept that it might sometimes have a better outcome than inflexibility. It’s also odd to think about the idea that kids would spend time talking about how to manipulate me, even though that is going to happen to any teacher. And I don’t think I’d be ready with a quick response if someone insults me, although I hope I’d know better than to just rely on being in a position of relative authority.

Beaty-O’Ferrall et al. mentioned the difficulty for teachers in getting to know 125 students (as would be typical in a school with block scheduling.) There is one more element to that, which might be related since this is the time many children start feeling alienated. In the beginning, it can be a difficult transition for students going from an elementary school environment where they primarily deal with one teacher who gets to know them a lot faster (that teacher’s time is not divided by as many students, and s/he does spend more time with the students) to a system where multiple teachers spend less than an hour with them per day. Memorizing people’s names has never been my strong suit, so an advisory system would help with that, with more interactions and reasons to remember students. I’m aware that it can matter so much to kids whether the teacher knows their names.

On the top of things to remember, the issue isn’t necessarily what but when, especially when it comes to remembering things at the right time. I’m aware of the difference between generic advice and legitimate empathy at the moment, but I could easily forget about how it applies to a conversation with a student two years from now. There are also certain things I’d like to know more about. For example, to what extent is the connection between fewer discipline problems and high-quality relationships an issue of correlations? Also, the 22% of students who suffer serious disorders are unlikely to be uniformly distributed in every classroom, so that’s likely to be a different experience in different schools.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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