Advisories: Social Emotional Learning & Developing Meaningful Relationships

Stephanie Achuara
Students in Middle School meet in small groups of 6-8 students with their advisor every Wednesday from 8:55-9:15 a.m.  During this time they have the opportunity to discuss topics that are relevant and important to them. These are aligned with core competencies of Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Responsible Decision Making, Relationship Skills and Social Awareness.  Students get to know each other, learn from each other, and express and discuss concerns they may have academically or socially. They are also informed of school events and happenings through announcements. The Second Semester of the 2018-2019 school year will begin with focus on responsiveness, recognizing, understanding, and expressing emotions, effective communication, social engagement, building relationships, and working cooperatively.  The last quarter will end with values of reflectiveness and resilience with a focus on community, growth and change.

Nine Hawaiian values, two to three for each quarter have been chosen to provide an overlying structure to the advisory program.  These values reinforce our mission and create awareness of Social Emotional Learning as a school-wide initiative, as something that is valued, is of importance, and involves and extends to all Island School ohana; students, teachers, administration, teachers, staff, and parents.  These values also provide themes for the 6-12 Advisories Program in which one of our main goals for year one implementation is to develop and strengthen relationships between teachers and students.   Teachers, staff, and administrators all serve as advisors at the various grade levels.  

A merit system has been developed that recognizes students for positive behaviors. At the end of each quarter, students discuss and develop character award criteria and then anonymously nominate their peers, identifying positive attributes in others.  These merits for exemplary behavior are recorded and approved as official notes in MyVoyager, informing the student, parent, and advisor. Staff, administrators, teachers and advisors can also fill it an “Exemplary Behavior” official note in MyVoyager, by choosing the Hawaiian Value that the student's behavior corresponds to.  Upon approval, the student and parent will get an email with the note and it becomes part of the student’s record. Overall, one student per grade level, per value that consistently displays this exemplary behavior will be recognized at the end of the year.