Activities for Collaborative Staff Conversations
Mention of the term “advisory” in schools gives rise to all sorts of preconceived notions about what an advisory entails. This activity is designed to help the school leadership team broaden the school wide view of advisory by engaging staff members in an examination of advisory as one option for personalizing the school experience.
The readings provided here address ways to implement an advisory program, but more importantly they include the experiences of three schools where advisory was implemented successfully. This activity includes a number of resources that the leadership team members can use to not only become familiar with advisories, but also to plan a professional development session on this topic for the entire faculty.
Readings and Videos
- The Advisory Guide: Designing and Implementing Effective Advisory Programs in Secondary Schools, Chapter 1, pp. 11–21.
- “Great Relationships. Great Education,” Principal Leadership, March 2011, pp. 38–40.
- “Senior Year Experience: Challenges and Opportunities,” Principal Leadership, April 2008, pp. 34–39.
- “Home Sweet Home,” Principal Leadership, March 2004, pp. 37–41.
- Video: “Why Advisory.” Educators for Social Responsibility.
- The Six Steps: Example planning template.
- Breaking Ranks: A Field Guide for Leading Change, pp. 128–129.
- Discussion Prompts (.PDF)
- Chart paper and markers
- Sticky notes
- Convene the school leadership team for a discussion and exploration of ways to use advisory as a strategy to personalize the school experience for each student.
- Distribute copies of the readings and make the video available for viewing.
- Assign each reader/viewer to be “the expert” on the material(s) he or she will read or view. Ask each expert to summarize the contents for the rest of the group and to discuss the implications for your school. (NOTE: If the group is large, assign multiple people to each selection and provide time for them to collaborate for their presentation and discussion.)
- As a team, begin to plan the process to bring the staff as a whole along in a rational and productive discussion of the possibility of using advisory as a means of personalizing the school experience for each student. (The pre-presentation process used by the leadership team can be replicated easily for the whole staff by dividing members into small groups.)
- As a team, begin a conversation that includes the following question prompts:
- What are the advantages, as demonstrated in each selection, of implementing an advisory initiative at our school?
- What strategies from each selection do we think could be replicated effectively at our school?
- What obstacles might inhibit the staff from supporting an advisory initiative at our school?
- What resources are necessary for an effective advisory program?
- Familiarize yourselves with The Six Steps: Template—Planning Your Schoolwide Initiative and Process Circle for use with initiative planning.
- Develop a strategy to replicate for the entire staff.
Presentation to the Full Faculty
- Divide the faculty into five groups with no more than eight participants in each. Each group will be reading or watching one of the five selections. (Depending on the size of the faculty, multiple groups may be reading and discussing the same selection.)
- Distribute copies of the selection to each group member and assign the video group to an area prepared for viewing.
- Ask the participants to read or view their section, highlighting, annotating, and noting important points. The facilitator from the leadership team should give directions and circulate.
- Ask faculty members to ignore their assumptions and to use specific reading selection examples and video references to support their comments during group discussions. Use the prompt questions and add discussion questions to continue the conversation in a way that is most relevant to your school.
- Using the chart paper and sticky notes, have each group summarize what was learned about advisory and identify strategies and initiatives that would be effective at your school.
- Present discussion summaries and strategies to the faculty as a whole.
- Lead a faculty discussion about the strategies and initiatives that might be effective at your school.
Extend and Apply
- Use The Six Steps: Template—Planning Your Schoolwide Initiative and Process Circle for use with initiative planning to gather information and data, identify personnel and resources, and formulate a plan to implement an effective advisory initiative.