DSC 0165As part of the RFSD visioning process last year, a balanced focus on academic as well as character skills was clearly desired by all stakeholders. From that visioning process, a series of action teams made up of members of the leadership team were developed including a character action team. This team included GSES principal Audrey Hazelton, BMS principal Jeremy Voss, and RFHS principal Drew Adams. Working in conjunction with Chief Academic Officer Rob Stein, the team identified an advisory or crew model as an essential component to help students develop the RFSD Habits of a Scholar.

Crew is a dedicated time in student schedules to focus on character skills and social-emotional learning as well as academic goal-setting. The crew model ensures all students have an adult monitoring their academic and social well-being and allows for deeper teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships that increase feelings of belonging to the school.

Recently, representatives from Expeditionary Learning facilitated customized professional development for elementary, middle and high school teams that allowed them to experience a crew or advisory experience and deeply engage with both the “why” and “how” of advisory or crew programs. The goal of the institute was to help schools learn to use the advisory or crew structure as an anchor to establish a strong school culture that takes ownership of and apply habits of character as scholars and citizens. Participating teams came away from the institute able to describe the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of a high-quality student advisor and explain how advisory promotes student achievement school-wide through relationship-building, character development, literacy, and academic progress monitoring. Participants learned, practiced, and reflected on how to lead crew meetings to develop Habits of a Scholar and support academic achievement.

DSC 0150The structure and content of advisories and crew will be unique to each school, community and level. Each school is at various stages of work, so each school team created their own action plans during the institute. RFSD will continue partnering with the EL trainers for ten more days throughout the spring to work with these school-based leadership teams to develop or build upon programs. There will also be additional trainings during the summer for teachers to build their professional competency and comfort as advisors.

Fourth grade BES teacher summed up the importance of this learning and shared time, “Just learning about what advisory/crew is and thinking about how beneficial it could be for our students is inspiring. There was so much energy at our training; everyone was invested in the work they were doing and knew it could be a wonderful part of the school day for every student. This is an amazing and exciting new initiative that parallels the reason why we teach: it is all for the students.”

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