Advisory Period Focuses on Building Relationships

Ridge's Advisory Period Focuses on Building Relationships
Posted on 10/31/2019
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collage from Ridge's Who We Are projectA new school year is also an opportunity to try new things. And that’s exactly what Ridge Junior School Principal Ben Brown set out to do.

Brown approached the school’s innovation specialist, Tiffany Rexhausen, during the district’s “Wednesday Workouts” learning sessions this summer. He wanted to reimagine his school’s advisory period and enlisted Rexhausen to help. Now known as RISE, Brown envisioned a program embedded in the day to encourage his staff to continue building relationships with their students. RISE stands for:

  • Realize

  • Innovate

  • Serve

  • Empower

“This was an opportunity to create an acronym that is tied to the
Portrait of a (Lakota) Graduate,” said Brown. The portrait, which is being introduced in the district this year, is a visual reminder to students of the skills they must master in order to be successful in one of the 4 Es (Enrollment, Employment, Enlistment, Entrepreneurship) after graduation. This skill set includes being: 

  • Critical Thinkers;

  • Persistent Problem Solvers;

  • Responsible Collaborators;

  • Effective Communicators;

  • Engaged Community Members; and

  • Adaptable Learners.

Rexhausen has taken Brown’s vision and run with it. “Students participate in a different activity every day,” explained Rexhausen. Three days a week, teachers choose from a menu of structured activities that Rexhausen built. The activities are centered around team building, relationship building and guiding the students to learn more about themselves. “Teachers can pick and choose (from the activities),” said Rexhausen. “This is their gate into personalized learning for kids.” 

On Wednesdays, students are able to check in with their teachers for things like extra help and makeup work. Fridays are reserved for students to have a digital check in with their teachers. Using their Chromebooks, students respond to questions that give their teachers insight into their lives - questions such as how was your week, what is something that went well and something that you’d change and what is something that you’d like me to know? 

Each quarter will focus on one of the components of RISE and give students the opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned during a school-wide showcase. First quarter activities focused on Realize - learning about each other and oneself. “This (project) provided a new slant on a topic they’ve been doing since preschool - all about me,” Brown explained. “We want our students to know that we care about you as a human being and we want to know you.”

Everything from Google Slide presentations to tri-fold displays were used by students as they shared more information about themselves. Eighth-grader Jacque Logan has enjoyed getting to know his classmates more through this project. “I liked learning things (my classmates) like that I never knew.”

Xavier McDaniel displayed trophies and medals he won in taekwondo competitions - including nationals. “The project was amazing,” the eighth-grader said. “I got to bring stuff so people know what I do.” 

Brown is proud of his teachers for jumping on board with the new advisory period. “We need to keep finding enrichment opportunities,” he said. “We need to be intentional and reach all kids, to be authentic and celebrate each other.”