The Efficacy Of Advisory: Worth Losing Flex Time?

Under lockdown, students are unanimous in their appreciation of a later start time. Though it seems like a distant reality, we should remember that two days of the week, we were starting the scheduled academic day before 8 am. To those of us who are awake until 1 am trying to complete numerous assignments, and unluckily have their hardest class first period the next day, flex—that added time to get moving, organized, and ready to start our day of classes—was an absolute blessing. Having those extra thirty minutes each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is beneficial to all students, as it provides us with the time to interact with friends, finish homework, and even get some extra sleep.

However, SAS students know that this isn’t a daily luxury. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-8:30, our time was occupied by the beloved advisory.

Gambell Advisory – Learning About The Holocaust

The purpose of the 8-8:30 convention with a small group of students from your grade level is meant to build relationships and develop individual characteristics like collaboration, but how effective is this use of our morning? With the return of Welcome Back Day, students and advisors are tasked with deciding an activity to do from 9:30-2:30, and the option to leave campus allows for numerous opportunities including some of the most popular like ice skating, bounce, and my advisory favorite, laser tag. Most students admit that this is the most and only enjoyable day spent in advisory. As Welcome Back Day is only once a semester, every other Tuesday and Thursday is spent guided by lessons meant to develop relationships within the advisory, and enhance our knowledge about the real world

So what is the defined goal of advisory? I interviewed Mr. Stephen Ly to get a good insight from someone who plays a large role in the organization of advisory. Here’s what he said:

Stephen Ly, SAS High School Principle
Picture taken from SAS 60-Second Selfie: Stephen Ly

“It is really important that every student and educator at SAS feels known and cared for. We do this in advisory through spending time together on a consistent basis, and maintaining good relationships. We are also trying to develop our DSLO’s, primarily character and cultural competence. Furthermore, our advisory lessons are designed by all members of our SAS community, as we want to teach relevant lessons and reflect on our relationships, identity, and goals.”

I then asked students from varying grade levels a simple yes or no question, “Do you think advisory is effective?” As shown in the pie chart below, a large majority of students were extremely quick to say no, expressing evidently their negative opinion about advisory.

Student Opinions Regarding Advisory, Made in Canva

Several students had mixed feelings about advisory, claiming that sometimes it was effective, but evidently, not all the time. Here’s what those students had to say:

“Advisory can be effective when the lesson plans are engaging the students. The lesson plans can sometimes be really repetitive in themes that we cover at school on a daily basis and already know a good deal about. However, when advisory is used for more fun and productive purposes through activities or time for students to complete homework, then students are best able to interact and use their time wisely.” Says Sophomore Meher Galani.

At times I do think advisory is effective. For example, recently we watch a documentary and filled out a survey on anti-semitism to further our understanding and raise awareness on the holocaust; therefore, I thought advisory was effective in engaging students in real world issues. However, when there is no effective lesson plan, I think advisory is useless, as students could be using this time to prepare themselves for class.” Says Sophomore Arjun Chawla.

Students had mixed feelings regarding the use of the lesson plans, however, it’s evident that they feel that advisory takes away valuable time that could be used for class and schoolwork.

In response to this backlash in regards to the efficacy of advisory, I asked Mr. Ly on his perspective regarding student opinions.

There is a whole range of perspective on advisory, and I certainly recognise that there are students who feel that advisory is not a good use of their time. However, I think in order to make changes, we simply have to ask students how they would want to improve advisory. Day to day stuff that advisory covers tends to be very hit or miss, in that the lessons can either go really well or really badly. I also think that students need to learn how to see the true value of advisory, in terms of reaching out to the people in their advisory and recognising a responsibility to care for them.”

Lastly, Mr. Ly wanted to share how he felt both advisors and students could create a more meaningful experience.

I want to encourage students to think more about the genuine value of advisory and what occurs outside of advisory. In terms of the panel of people who create lesson plans for advisory, I encourage them to listen to students even more than we already do. By giving control of the topics we discuss to the students, we allow them to decide what needs to be talked about within our community.”

It’s evident that there are mixed feelings about advisory. Regardless of the homework that needs finishing, or the social opportunities, meeting times, or teacher 1-on-1 conferences afforded to us during regular flex time (that many would prefer), Mr. Ly added that advisory is much more than what goes on in the classroom. Perhaps we need to not view this NOT as an occupier of time and for what it takes FROM us. It’s a opportunity for decompression, addressing school wide interests such as today’s student council elections, enjoying the Studio41 “First Take” perspective, or build relationships within a safe haven of students that follow us throughout high school. We sill see if this scheduled early meeting time continues in August, but the valuable role of advisory would suggest that it’s here to stay. Mr Ly added that what we learn is meant to extend outside to our everyday lives, and that this can only be done through our meaningful participation every Tuesday and Thursday.”

Author: Ariana Rossuck

Ariana Rossuck is a sophomore at Singapore American School, and this is her first year on the Eye. She’s Filipino-American-European, but is proud to have grown up in Singapore, and loves to travel. She plays for the Varsity Volleyball team and hopes to pursue volleyball in college. Her hobbies include drinking too many iced lattes and spending hours a day looking for new music for all 17 of her Spotify playlists. She can be contacted at rossuck34822@sas.edu.sg

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