Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3 Ways Advisories Get to the "CORE" of the Common Core

As I see it, the Common Core at its "core" is increasing rigor so that students are college and career ready when they leave the school house doors as graduates. So, what part do student advisory programs play in successful common core implementation and achievement? An advisory program that is thoughtfully planned and executed with genuine investment from teacher mentors can help cultivate and sustain a rigorous academic culture. Here are three ways I believe advisory programs can get to the "core" of the common core:

  1. Long-Term Investment in Student Relationships. Advisories that follow the looping concept where small groups of students are placed with a teacher who serves as an adviser throughout high school have great capacity for long-term impact. Similar to a college advisers, teacher advisers are responsible for assisting students with all aspects of high school and post-high school planning. A four-year advisory structure builds trust and connection for teacher-student relationships that endure. 
  2. Advisers insure that all students take a rigorous and challenging course of study. No "easy senior year" here. When students meet with a teacher adviser twice a week four straight years, there is  no getting off the hook by taking an "easy" academic route to graduation. Teacher advisers are accountable to 20-25 students versus the counselor's load of 250 or more. Schools where students are invited to be challenged academically are not enough. They must RSVP. Advisers make sure they show up to the party. Push first. Then support students through their academic struggles and challenges. No student in an advisory is left behind.
  3.  Teachers gain a vast knowledge and expertise in mentoring students for success beyond high school. The traditional teacher in a high school is a content expert as well as a teacher. Helping students reach proficiency in the common core standards and content is the primary goal. But, advisory is the map to guide students to the next stop on their post-high school journey. Advisories are also an avenue for a unique and high-impact professional development opportunity for teachers. There are few rewards greater than when a teacher adviser plays a key role in helping a student get accepted in to an elite college or university or assisting a student in obtaining a scholarship that makes a dream possible. Professional growth is the by product of the research and work behind helping students realize these opportunities and options. Serving as an adviser takes the teaching profession to a new level.
Building an advisory program is not easy. The costs are time and commitment. Teachers must buy in and genuinely invest in the structure and process. Planning, evaluating, revising, and delivering the program is demanding for everyone involved. Support from administration is essential.  

The Common Core at its "core" is increasing rigor so that students are college and career ready when they leave the school house doors as graduates. I believe investing in a student advisory program will help us get there.

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