How You Can Help Your Teachers Become Remarkable Advisors

Vol. 15 No. 6

academicleadership eletter Vol16 No6 teachermentor

It’s up to the School Head to create your advisory program, but it’s often left to Division Heads to implement the school’s plan and ensure its continued success.

So how do you, as a link between the School Head and your faculty, help teachers become exemplary advisors? One of the most important steps is getting the buy-in of your teachers—that is, making them realize the advisory program is a crucial use of their time and effort.

When your teachers buy into your advisory program, they will:

  • understand that the advisory program contributes to fulfilling the school’s mission in academics and character development;
  • feel that advising students is part of their core responsibilities and not an additional chore; and
  • realize that the advisory program matters and helps make a difference in the lives of their students.

Getting teachers to embrace your advisory program starts with culture. Your school culture must value continued professional growth. Help build a faculty culture that supports the advisory function, rather than one that requires teachers to be advisors who function a certain way. Make helping others an integral part of your culture so teachers feel intrinsically motivated to be advisors.

Another element of your culture should include the mindset that the advisory program is continuous. It can always be grown, added to, or reconfigured. Teachers should be able to help shape the program based on their needs and the needs of their students.

Advisors are often confused when expectations aren’t clear. When roles are ill-defined, teachers may believe advisors:

  • are responsible for solving advisees’ academic or personal problems;
  • need to be each advisee’s “friend;” or
  • should conduct mainly group activities for their advisees.

Instead, define the advisory role during faculty hiring and onboarding, as well as during ongoing professional development and evaluation. Provide training and support for advisors, and give them public recognition for their achievements.

Because culture is a vital part of embracing and growing your advisory program, you must frequently measure how your teachers feel.

While you might already assess faculty culture informally—through conversations with other administrators, sessions with individual advisors, or discussions at faculty meetings—you need to solicit teachers’ viewpoints in a formal way to operate strategically.

If possible, conduct surveys several times a year to ensure your faculty feels supported in their advisory roles. Get teachers involved in interpreting survey findings, as well as proposing and implementing ideas for enhancing faculty culture. Advisory then becomes a part of an ongoing conversation about “the definition of professional excellence.”

A supportive faculty culture and an understanding of the nature of advisory programs encourages teachers to become advisors. It also helps them become successful in their advisory roles, providing a distinct value-add to students.

Hands on Advisory

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for School Heads Vol. 16 No. 5 Creating a Successful Advisory Program
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 7 No. 7 Quality Advisory Sets Private Schools Apart
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 14 No. 5 Student Mental Health and Your Advisory Program

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
Vol. 33 No. 5 Parent Relations in the Pre-enrollment Period

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