In middle school, there is so much shifting, different classes and teachers, changing social groups, the metamorphosis of adolescence. In all of this change, the Middle School (Grades 5-8) Advisory Program here at Mayfield is designed as a home base – a space (both literally and figuratively) to feel grounded. From welcoming cubbies to connecting daily beyond the academic life of a student, the goal of the advisory program goes beyond attendance. It’s about relationships and the opportunity to collaborate and connect.
Beginning the Day with Intention
After full school morning prayer, advisors greet their students as they come into the advisory room. Advisors and advisees then circle-up. The morning ritual of gathering in a circle with your advisory to check-in and pray is intended to allow every student a moment to share whatever is in their heart and on their mind, practice compassion, and communicate with God. It is a simple practice, but powerful over time. In small cumulative ways, advisors and advisees build trust with one another. It is a way to start the day that says, “you matter as a person; how you are thinking and feeling matters to all of us.”
Advisory class periods continue to build these relationships. Meeting three times a week, these advisory periods may focus on a variety of topics such as setting goals, communication or maybe conflict resolution. Advisors serve as guides and observers, noting the difficulties and needs expressed by the students, then purposefully designing the next classes with the grade-level advisory team. Sometimes advisors will partner with our skillful guidance counselors to support the students' social and emotional growth.
At the end of the Student Pledge, students pledge to treat others with “kindness, compassion, and respect.” We strive to do this everywhere, but advisory provides a unique space in the middle school curriculum to focus on what kindness, compassion, and respect look like. How do we exercise and practice these skills? One of the ways we attempt this is by doing service-learning work in advisory in collaboration with other courses. Whether it is fifth-grade recycling efforts, sixth-graders reading with kindergarteners during KPals, or eighth-grade service field trips in the greater Los Angeles community, students have multiple opportunities to learnhow they can share their gifts and become positive agents for change.
The role of an advisor can be tremendously rewarding. Our alumni who are just off to high school often bring up their teachers and advisors when asked what they miss most about MJS. They share stories of kindness, help during a rough time or words that inspired them. Advisors work to see and support each student as an individual and make themselves available with encouragement and validation on things big and little. Developing trust takes time, but it grows with consistency and shared experiences.
The Middle School Advisory Program is an essential part of how we thrive as a school community and contributes to our mission in caring for and celebrating each unique child that comes through our door.