The Advisory program is a cornerstone of the Middle School experience at ASP. Students are placed in small Advisory groups with the same faculty Advisor for the whole academic year. The group works together to promote responsible, individual development, and supports successful personal and community growth. In each Advisory, students have the opportunity to grapple with key issues in a safe environment with a caring adult.
Within the Advisory program, students engage in small-group activities and discussions, whole-grade activities, and annual field trips. Furthermore, students engage in cross-curricular academic support with their advisor at regular intervals throughout the year. This environment allows them to explore new ideas and challenge themselves.
Advisory plays an important role in helping students actively contribute to and engage with the ASP community. The program offers students key support, allowing them to flourish socially, culturally, and linguistically. Critical topics such as organizational skills, time management, self-advocacy and independence, peer pressure, bullying, self-concept, relationships, multiculturalism, and community service, are explored and practiced within the Advisory sessions.
Our Advisory program allows students to develop academically, socially, and emotionally throughout the year. The program focuses on five key domains for personal growth. You can explore these themes below.
As developing adolescents mature, they are learning new and increasingly complex social roles. While this can lead to a growing richness in one’s life, there are also obstacles along the way. Advisory aims to assist students in taking on these new roles in a secure and healthy way. It can provide a social support group in which the student can stretch, explore, and take risks. It is a forum for discussing matters such as friendship, becoming aware of stereotypes we may hold about others, and one’s changing relationship with parents.
At the beginning of the year, students are bonding and forming connections within their Advisory and as a grade-level team. Each grade departs on an Outward Bound trip, where student share incredible learning experiences. After Outward Bound, students know that they belong in their Advisory and grade-level team, and have also learned how to work successfully with their peers. The Outward Bound experiences are points of reference throughout the year, and students continue to build connections through other shared experiences like performing skits together during an assembly, taking field trips (from planning through debriefing stages), and celebrating holidays.
Advisory can also be a place where students receive specific social skills training and learn to develop good communications skills. ASP has adopted the International Counseling Standards for Grades K3–12.
Our Middle School community includes people from many different cultures, with different languages, religions, races, ethnic groups, etc. We aim for our students to go beyond a sense of tolerance, encouraging them to explore this internationalism and learn as much as they can about similarities and connections between different cultures, and to celebrate diversity. Advisory leads students to explore a bit more about our planet’s human geography, and to engage in cultural research. The program aims to identify and challenge cultural stereotypes.
One approach to improving this understanding is by discussing and marking certain holidays (sometimes by sharing special foods) during the year: Thanksgiving, Ramadan, the French feast of the Three Kings, the Scandinavian feast of Santa Lucia, etc.
In addition, there is a specific focus on helping students adjust to French culture. This is particularly important for new students at the beginning of the year.
What are the different communities to which I belong? What responsibilities do I have to these communities? These are two questions explored in Advisory. For many students, living in France will be their first experience outside their native country, and Advisory will help them understand their responsibilities as residents in this country. The program will also assist students in understanding their broader civic responsibilities in whatever country they happen to be living in. Sometimes, this awareness will by fostered from discussions of current events. Apart from learning one’s civic responsibilities, Advisory seeks to lead each student to learn one’s responsibility to serve the community.
Each Advisory also elects one member to sit on the Middle School Student Council and the Advisory group gets regular reports of the Council’s discussions and plans. The Council coordinates the student-led activities throughout the year that serve both the school community as well as international charitable causes.
What does it take to be a successful student at ASP? This is a key concern for every student, particularly if one is new to the school. Advisory aims to provide the guidance students need in order to succeed.
An important part of being a successful student is becoming organized: using their agendas effectively, organizing a locker, and learning to manage time well. In addition, students are made aware of the responsibilities the school gives them, such as making up for missed work during an absence.
Success also involves knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a learner, your own learning style and ‘what works for you.’
Advisory also involves conferencing with each student to discuss teacher evaluations such as Progress Reports and Report Cards. In addition, it is a place where students engage in reflection and self-evaluation, along with setting goals for the next term.
Advisory aims to help students understand the responsibilities they have as Middle School students and to look ahead to the responsibilities they will be taking on as adults.
An important part of this is learning to make the right choices in problematic situations they may now be facing, such as confronting moral dilemmas, facing peer pressure, being encouraged to smoke or drink, etc. Students are thus given a chance to anticipate their options, role-play how they might handle these situations, and weigh the consequences of different possible responses.
The groups also explore future adult responsibilities our students will eventually have, such as managing time, money, and work. This might also include, for example, discussion of different types of careers.
HOLISTIC CARE FOR THE MIDDLE YEARS
This is a school where you can be different and you’ll find others kids who are accepting and supportive. We celebrate each other.
- BEATRIX, MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT