It isnt enough to offer only academic course work, no matter its quality. For early adolescents to succeed, it is vital to carefully orchestrate their social as well as their intellectual climate. If they get help in working and playing with their peers, and if they learn the social skills necessary to navigate their relationships with a wide variety of people, they stand a good chance of doing will in school. When early adolescents bond with their school and feel connected to the learning experience, there is always an element of teacher support involved, and that connection is crucial to success. Advisory is a perfect place to make the connections.
Researchers have ample connections between advisories and academic success. Maclver (1990) found that when programs focused on social and academic support activities, then a strong relationship existed that promoted the reduction of dropouts. Connors (1986) found evidence that advisory programs that helped students grow emotionally and socially contributed to a positive school climate, helped students learn about school and getting along with their classmates, and enhanced teacher-student relationships. To this end, the primary goals of our advisory program, titled:
Circle of Power and Respect (CPR) are to:
1. Promote opportunities for social interactions
2. Assist students with academic programs
3. Facilitate positive involvement / relationships among teachers, administrators, and students
4. Provide an adult advocate for each student in the school
5. Promote a positive school climate
We believe that the time spent in advisory will allow students and teachers to bond and share, thus creating a more cohesive social community within their teams, throughout the school, and elsewhere in their lives. It is also our belief that students who connect with their peers, their schools, and their learning experience are more successful both socially and academically. Throughout the year our students will learn the importance of the pillars of character education: responsibility, respect, citizenship, trust, and caring. Additionally, they will gain the tools to improve their social skills, problem solving, and community building.
The four basic components of the Circle of Power and Respect speak to the basic needs of early adolescents. There is room for many variations within the four components (see below). However, the predictable format provides safety and reassurance. The structure keeps the meeting intact, effective, and efficient. You can count on the basic format of CPR to maintain peace, build connections, and provide the practice in speaking, listening, and thinking that is crucial to social and academic success.