The Advising Role in Your Faculty Hiring Process

Vol. 14 No. 1

academicleadership eletter Vol15 No1 hiringadvisin

For a comprehensive approach to the faculty hiring process, include the advising role you require of your middle- and upper-school teachers. Your advisory program and advising role(s) should be not merely included but also highlighted in the process. Candidates should walk away from their campus visits with a clear sense of the role, some understanding of how it supports school mission, and, ideally, some enthusiasm for taking it on. Failure to inform (even inspire) prospective teachers in this way implicitly undermines, from the outset, a sense that the role is taken seriously at your school.

To support the position that advising is more than an add-on to faculty responsibilities, you should:

  • include advising in any position description you publish in your faculty recruitment efforts;
  • remember that some desirable teaching candidates may not be familiar with the role of advisor (or even the term itself). You may wish, therefore, to use language like “provide individual, personal, and academic guidance to eight to 10 students”;
  • ensure that the terms “advisor” and “advisory program” are used by the key personnel your visiting teaching candidates encounter, and that one key person—a Department Chair, Division Head, or you—takes the time to explain the role. Ideally, hosts and interviewers will convey pride in the program as well;
  • in your contract or other agreement, consider including the word “advisor” to add emphasis to the importance of the role in fulfillment of professional responsibilities on behalf of students and their families; and
  • remember that candidate campus visits are the actual beginning of “orientation.” This initial exposure to your school’s commitment to professional development will set the tone for its faculty culture.

In our experience, the most frequent administrative concern about the advisory program is unevenness in the quality of advisor functioning. Teachers’ motivation, skill, buy-in, ownership, and overall professionalism in this role often vary considerably.

Clarity about the role—its purposes, priorities, limits, and sources of assistance—provides focus. This clarity and focus, for those with less affinity for the role of advisor, instill a sense that the job is doable (i.e., not an “all things-to-all-people” set of responsibilities). These boundaries also rein in any faculty who tend to overdo (i.e., become over-involved in the lives of their advisees).

On a broader level, this kind of clarity implicitly makes advising more professional and contributes to a culture that values professional development in this role on behalf of students.

In high-functioning advisory programs, there is a well-conceived link between the school’s mission and the defined, agreed-on purposes of advising. Advisors in such programs understand their priorities, are mindful of appropriate constraints, are provided with resources and other forms of support in handling difficult situations, and recognize the larger strategic purposes advising can serve.

To move your school’s advisory program in this more professional direction, plan a segment of your new teacher orientation to address advising. A minimum of three hours (a morning or afternoon session) is suggested for this purpose. In both preparing for and conducting this event, include some veteran advisors for their perspectives on what new advisors need, at this point, and to underscore, through their presence, the authenticity of advisory at the grassroots faculty level.

This article was excerpted from the chapter “Advisory in the Hiring Process and Orienting Your New Advisors” in the latest edition of Mission-Based Advisory: A Professional Development Manual, recently released by ISM. Check out ISM's online Bookstore for more information—and to grab a copy for yourself!

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 7 No. 7 Quality Advisory Sets Private Schools Apart
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 9 No. 1 Your Advisory Program and Student-Led Conferences Are a Natural Fit

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 41 No. 3 10 Attributes of an ISM Model Advisory Program
I&P Vol. 38 No. 7 The Advisory Program in 21st Century Schools

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