- Middle School
What makes a good friend? What’s a healthy relationship? What might a conversation between two friends in a toxic relationship sound like?
The questions above are an example of the types of discussions middle school students at SSIS engage in during their advisory lessons. This advisory program was enhanced at the beginning of the year, to place greater focus on students’ social-emotional wellbeing. The schedule was reworked completely to ensure that there two days a week dedicated for students to engage in rich social-emotional learning experiences.
The concepts and topics explored within the seven units are adapted to serve the individual needs of each grade level. But the themes repeat each year, building on prior knowledge.
Advisory Across Grade Levels
In the current unit, “Choices and Consequences,” Grade 6 students are exploring how the choices they make work to shape the story of their lives. It includes learning about the great number of choices they make each day and generates awareness about how single choices can have many consequences, positive and negative.
Meanwhile, Grade 7 is tapping into the topics of self-control and willpower. Each student has created a personalized plan to better understand and apply self-control.
Grade 8 is delving into how choices can impact one's physical and mental well-being, looking closely at how their digital footprints impact their lives.
Navigating Middle School and Beyond
The creation and implementation of the new advisory program were led by MS Dean of Students, Roxanne Amor-Ross. “In addition to ensuring that we supported our school’s Core Values, we asked ourselves what dispositions, understandings, and strategies our students would need to have in place to navigate life in middle school and beyond” she shares.
When developing the program, the teams also looked closely at the school mission, asking what role the advisory program would play in equipping students to live purposeful lives as global citizens. And as everything in the advisory is intended to support students learning to manage their well-being and learning how to thrive, the PERMAH framework from positive psychology also played an important role.
Prepared for a Purposeful Life
A big change in this year’s advisory program is teaching students about the underlying research behind the topics. During the unit on Positive Relationships, students got the following introduction:
“Our behaviors are influenced by our relationships, and so is our mental and physical health. Scientists have been researching this since before even your teacher was born! The fact is, having positive relationships in our lives helps us feel connected, makes us happy, and contributes to our mental and physical health. Positive relationships make humans feel good and function well. Having healthy relationships is one of the key ingredients of a happy life…. It can even make you live longer!
This is why, over the next few weeks, we are going to use our advisory time to explore how to develop and nurture positive relationships.”
Now more than ever, soft skills like interpersonal relations, empathy, and self-reflection are necessary to ensure that our students thrive today and in the future. We are proud of the impact that our advisory program is already having on students as they adopt the language and learning from their units as they manage relationships and more.