In-Person Advisory Sessions: Productive or Pointless?

Audi Lin and Sophia Zhang

Lexington High School conducted in-person Advisory sessions this fall to promote Lexington Public Schools’ core values and foster a sense of unity after a year of shifting learning models. 

However, even with the switch to an in-person format, Advisory does not appear to have clear benefits. 

Advisory blocks are designated one hour blocks scheduled to meet on a monthly basis where teachers present slides about specific topics, and then students reflect on the material in a “community circle.” 

However, this year’s Advisory doesn’t seem to have achieved the desired “positive” effect, prompting questions regarding its practicality. Many students find it difficult to form connections with fellow students in this setting. Although students have been divided into smaller groups of approximately twenty individuals, not everyone is willing to engage.

“Some people don’t like to talk to other people, and forcing them to do icebreakers is not going to help,” Emmy Huang, a sophomore at LHS, said.

Additionally, many students already know the peers in their Advisory class from freshman year History and English, and find introducing themselves redundant. 

“I don’t think it helps to connect to a lot of new people, because you already know these people that are in your advisory,” Tasneem Ghadiali, a sophomore, said.

Hannah Weissman, a new teacher at LHS, also finds that students don’t seem to participate because they are uncomfortable or don’t see discussions as a priority.

“I think a lot of students potentially are uncomfortable talking about it or maybe understand it, but would prefer to do their homework because they’re stressed out,” Weissman said.

Students also tend to find Advisory to be repetitive because similar topics are covered in other classes.

“[Advisory] is repetitive of the freshman health curriculum and the curriculum we see in English classes,” Ghadiali said.

Advisory also adds to the challenge for teachers, who already have had to busy schedules. Teachers are emailed the curriculum material a few days before Advisory sessions, and often cannot spend adequate time preparing for the session.

“I generally look through the site, but I often don’t have time to actually talk to my co-teachers because there’s no time built into our schedule,” Weissman said.

Despite the current issues with Advisory, there are benefits. For example, many students found the in-person format to facilitate easier connection.

“I feel like it’s better because instead of everybody’s cameras being off, you get to see people in person. People have better experiences and they bond more,” Huang said.

Simply being exposed to thinking about the sensitive topics covered in Advisory might also help students in dealing with similar situations.

 “I think even though maybe we haven’t seen a ton of positive impacts, it’s still good that students are thinking about [those] topics more,” Weissman said. 

However, if Advisory does not want to exist merely as a perfunctory “assignment” and aims to extract progress out of its genuine intention, the program should make changes that better reflect student and faculty opinions. 

“I think it might make more sense to meet for, like, 20 or 30 minutes every other week. I think that could help. That’s maybe the biggest thing,” Weissman said.

Another way the Advisory experience could be improved is allowing students and faculty members to settle in before talking about sensitive subjects. Instead of scripted prompts and directions, conversations could start out more naturally to first build trust.

“I feel like it would be more natural if it was impromptu and people had normal conversations,” Ivy Guo, a junior at LHS, said.

LHS administration should take time to experiment with what is effective, and help  determine what is best for the LHS community.

 “I think even though it’s not perfect right now, I don’t think we should throw in the towel. I think it just takes some time to iron out new things,” Weissman said. 

But more importantly, if no substantial changes are made to the construction and execution of Advisory, then perhaps even time—which there has already been a year of—can’t redeem it.