Frequency—How Often Should Advisory Meet?
How often should advisory groups meet? Ideally, advisories should meet once per week or at least twice per month. However, there are all sorts of schedules that advisement programs subscribe to, including daily and once per month. It is also acceptable to vary how often an advisory meets give the purpose of a group of meetings held closely together. For example, when pre-registering students for high school, it may be prudent to schedule weekly meetings instead of semi-weekly meetings for a short time of, say, three weeks.
Length—How Long Should We Meet Each Time?
How long should each meeting be? Again, that answer can vary in many different directions depending on the school and what they are trying to accomplish during advisory. When you meet daily, you tend to meet for shorter durations of time, say 10-25 minutes per session. When you meet less infrequently, you may find the need to meet 30, 45, or 60 minutes per session? Make sure that you know your goals and the outcomes you hope to derive from advisement, and let that be your driving factor in determining the length of your meetings.
Will the Advisory Group Serve as Homeroom…OR Is It Better to Keep the Two Separate?
Homerooms, primarily in middle schools, generally meet first thing in the morning to help students line out their day and prepare to be successful at school based on a plan. Homerooms tend to focus on the administrivia that all students need to know in order to be successful. Advisory programs focus on relationship building between students and a caring adult at the school level, and rely on discussions, games, projects, and other strategies to develop that relationship and support system.
Some schools choose to make homeroom and advisory one in the same, noting however that each structure has a different purpose.
When Should We Hold the Advisory Period?
Most important is to make sure that wherever the advisory period is placed, it serves to meet the goals and student outcomes of the program. Consider whether first thing in the morning is the best time to meet, or does it give students a reason to be late to school? Consider also whether all students can make it to advisory, or are they on some type of release period when it's held? Experience tells us at the high school that advisory should not occur first thing in the morning, last thing at the end of the day, or just prior to the lunch hour. Middle school students are a little more captive in their schedules, and other options can be considered.
Another option for scheduling the advisory program is at the end of the day. Consider that while this may be a viable option at the middle school level, it may provide the opportunity for students to leave school early at the high school level. Middle schools that use the end of the day successfully tie the advisory to be a way to help students plan for what homework needs to be completed overnight and how to prepare for next day.
Experience strongly suggests that the advisory program should not be held on Mondays or Fridays for those programs meeting weekly or less.
Should All Advisory Groups Meet at the Same Time?
Most often, all advisory groups meet during the same time frame. However, some schools because of space constraints, a limited number of advisors, or something similar meet at different times. For instance, there are some schools that stagger their lunchroom schedule and place their advisories opposite those lunchroom blocks.
What About Considering a Mixed schedule?
Whatever schedule you choose for advisory, it cannot be emphasized enough that the schedule and time allotment must allow advisors to accomplish the goals and outcomes sought as a result of advisory. It is recommended that the year-long advisory schedule be determined and approved prior to the start of school, and that the schedule be non-negotiable in terms of interrupting the time and utilizing it for a different activity.
When determining goals and outcomes for the year-long advisory program, certain topics and instructional strategies may lend themselves to having longer periods of time to meet. They may also necessitate off-campus travel or more sessions in one month as compared to another. These are all possibilities for advisory, so keep them in mind as you schedule for the upcoming year.