The advisory program at Bolles works to ensure every child is known well so their academic, emotional and social needs are met. The program strives to build more meaningful personal relationships between students and faculty by working in small groups and to create a stronger partnership between home and school. Students briefly check in with their advisor Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings before the first period of the day. On Thursdays, the middle school has a 30-minute “advisory period.” Some of these meetings are used for age- and grade level-appropriate lessons organized by theme. Past lessons have focused on tenets of The Bolles Way, Digital Citizenship, the Honor Code and kindness, to name a few. Students also use this time to practice skills or characteristics necessary for success at Bolles including best practices for goal-setting, self-advocacy, organization, planning, perseverance and time management. Some advisors choose to use this time for fun- or relationship-building activities.
The National Association of Independent Schools states “a strong advisory program has the advisor as the central figure in the student’s school life.” The advisor may act as a safety net by anticipating problems before they occur. The advisor monitors the academic, social and personal life of the advisee. Advising centers on teaching life: how to live it; how to cope with it; how to deal with it; and how to love it. A strong advisory program focuses on the whole child and it is one where the student can feel a sense of belonging from day one at the Middle School. Shulkind and Foote, in their article in the Middle School Journal state, “An advisory program facilitates …relationships and provides the structure that creates "connectedness" in a middle school. Connectedness is a characteristic of school cultures in which students have meaningful relationships with adults within the school, are engaged in the school and feel a sense of belonging to the school. School connectedness is linked to higher grades, higher test scores and lower dropout rates, regardless of students' socioeconomic status”.
At Bolles, we have identified overall advisory “themes” for each grade level. Throughout the year, students in Grade 6 will focus on growing as a student. The advisor’s goal is to help sixth-graders feel safe and comfortable in their role as students and to set themselves up for success. In Grade 7, the focus is growing as an individual. Advisory activities and discussions at this level are focused on guiding students to learn about themselves, who they are and how they fit into their community. Finally, Grade 8, the focus is on growing as a leader. Advisory period lessons for eighth-graders are all about guiding students to see their worth in a community and reflect on what impact they would like to have on their community.