At Bishop Carroll High School, the Teacher Advisor program is central to the working of a self-directed model. Teachers are committed to ensuring that each individual is known personally by at least one adult. There are many components to the teacher advisor program including continuous dialogue. Advisors meet at least once a week for fifteen minutes or more with each student in their TA. They also meet daily for 15 minutes. The Teacher Advisor stays with this student throughout their three years of high school.
There is a 69 page document that Bishop Carroll has developed that describes the TA role to new staff members. The advisory role is taken very seriously at this school,so much so that teachers are thought to be teacher advisors first and subject teachers second.. It is a big reason why Bishop Carroll works so well.
According to CCSDL http://ccsdl.ca/ (The Canadian Coalition of Self- Directed Learners) “the single most important relationship between student and teacher is embodied in the teacher advisor program.” Teachers serve as coaches, mentors, facilitators and guides as well as stressing collaboration and high expectations.”
At Bishop Carroll one of the focal points of our ( ePD) embedded professional development, is on the TA role and how we can continue to engage learners and assist them in every way possible.
Heather Enzie and Kevin Warriner, Religion teachers at Bishop Carroll, have some creative ways to engage their students in their 15 minute check-in each morning. “We want kids coming to school each morning engaged and ready to go – we want them to be excited to be here,” explains Warriner. The two educators, who’ve shared a “check-in space” for the past two years, have developed daily themes that are meant to inspire the 55 students that check-in with them explains Enzie. “I like to find good, short videos to show to the students, meeting them on their turf. We’ve developed themes for each day such as:
- Motivational Mondays
- Trivia Tuesdays
- Wacky Wednesdays
- Thoughtful Thursdays
- Pop Up Video Vendredi’s (Fridays referring to the music videos from the late 90’s which are both educational and entertaining.
According to Warriner, the different themes are drawing a crowd, “Kids are engaged – they’re excited. There is anticipation for the themes each day.” Enzie argues that perhaps the most important trend that has come about from this initiative is student involvement, saying, “Our students send us videos. They see stuff online and send them to us thinking it would be a good fit for check-in. More and more they are taking ownership of the content that is shared during check-in.”
Both Warriner and Enzie feel that the check-in themes provide students with many different tools to help them succeed in a self-directed learning environment and develop skills and habits to becoming a life-long learner.
Check in varies from TA to TA, but ideas are shared and generated regarding best practices through our ePD. Some TA’s like to celebrate breakfasts, lunches and birthdays with their students. Also, information about post-secondary options is encouraged, supported and provided in TA. Susan Spellman Cann has initiated a daily tellagami where she sends her TA daily quotes.
These are but a few ideas for celebrating our students. Sharing, collaborating, connecting and problem solving are all modeled through the TA relationship. Engaging our students is an ongoing process, but the benefits of a lasting positive relationship are lifelong.
What do you do to engage students in your teacher advisory group? We’d love you to share your ideas.
Collaborative post by :Susan Spellman Cann, Kevin Warriner and Heather Enzie
The nice thing about collaborating on a post is that several ideas come out of the discussion. We thought of all kinds of ideas for each day after we discussed this post. All of which will benefit students.
Check out this haiku deck . It is one of many you can share with students.