Starting the Conversation

Daily Heart-to-Hearts between Teachers and Students

Raye Park, Alyssa Chang, and Justin Park

The return of in-person classes has brought a brand new curriculum with it; starting from the 2021-2022 school year, an advisory period has been newly introduced to all students. This new time period is crucial, as it’s meant to prepare students more than ever before.

Through digitized Social Emotional Learning (SEL) platforms such as Second Step, advisory period presents students with numerous activities: Jets Media, worksheets, discussions, and educational videos provide pupils with lessons on digital citizenship, emotional development, and community bonding. Meanwhile, middle and high schoolers also participate in virtual meetings with organizations outside of school to start brainstorming their career paths and college decisions. A class purely dedicated to student growth is unheard of, but as school principal Mrs. Cameron says: “It’s a huge step forward for DIS.”

The SEL committee, devoted to helping the student body grow as a whole, clarified the purpose of the advisory period. Committee member Mrs. Cameron explained: “There was a need identified… to ensure that we’re supporting students with social-emotional learning… There’s a lot of research on how SEL, wellness, and digital citizenship [supplement] student [welfare] and academic growth.” Furthermore, she expounded on the benefit of a low-pressure class for relaxed bonding: “Advisory… is ungraded, and that’s really important because then students can develop their relationships with one another, and with teachers.” 

“I feel like it’s special because the teachers get some good opportunities [for] the students to actually [learn] all the parts they need to know for being online, including the social-emotional stuff. I also love it when we spend time together organizing the advisory period… We support each other in various ways,” added Mrs. Jolly, the counselor.

Although the period isn’t an exception to the ongoing health regulations, Jets are satisfied with the outcome. Mrs. Cameron stated that despite the changes teachers had to make to their schedules, the faculty was able to approach students more personally–a valuable experience that doesn’t come often. 

While the new schedule requires more work for the teachers, both the students and the teachers are improving as learners. Mr. Jolly, the Head of School, was glad to see everyone fostering healthier bonds. “I think having that time for students and teachers to gain more [holistic] abilities and report from outside of the normal classroom time is good. You see people more on the level of the individual, focusing on human ideals. I’m hoping that students get support from their peers, and the teachers [gather] different perspectives,” he noted.

Students are undoubtedly enjoying this change as well–some are even willing to devote extra time to it. Justin from grade six is one of many who were thrilled at the schedule change: “I think it’s a good idea to have something like the advisory period, I like that it’s kinda like a short break between the two periods, and you get to know about the SEL stuff! I want it to be longer.”

DIS welcomes a stronger fellowship between the students and the teachers, and the campus is becoming much more tight-knit through the addition of the advisory period. Mrs. Cameron affirmed that these changes are good for students and their wellbeing: “We’re doing something new for students, and we’re doing well. We want students to know more about SEL and wellness, have good connections to each other and to their friends. We want our teachers to get more information and get to know the students more holistically.”