Building a community (before Day 1)

So at my school we have “advisements”. Advisement is a group of students, freshmen through seniors, who meet for about 15 minutes three times per week.  It operates like a homeroom except that it’s mixed levels and the students stay with the same advisor all four years.  During advisement, we watch broadcast, celebrate holidays, register for classes, track service hours, etc. Mostly they eat…and plan parties…which is an excuse to eat.

In a perfect world, the advisement forms a community that transcends the divisions of class level or social cliques.  In reality, they mainly stick to their classmates and pretend to not know anyone else’s name no matter how many name games I make them play.

Still, I have a dream.  A dream that, one day, I will walk into my classroom at the start of advisement period and find all my advisees hanging out as one, big, happy family.  The seniors will be helping the sophomores with their biology.  The freshmen will approach the juniors confidently and ask about the assembly later that day.  The sun will shine.  The birds will sing. And B102 will be alight with peace and joy.

I just haven’t quite figured out how to make that dream come true yet.  Now don’t get me wrong – I have a GREAT advisement.  They interact a lot more than some.  Our parties are usually successful and, I think, we manage to maintain a relaxed and fun atmosphere…most days.  It’s just a teacher thing, I think.  We always see the potential our students (or in this case, advisees) possess and we just want to ask them for a little bit more.

For my part, I try to build the sense of community in any way I can.  Today I wrote my annual Welcome-back-let’s-have-a-great-year cards to my advisees.  I think letter writing is a lost art and my advisees have mentioned how much they enjoy getting mail, so cards are an easy way to try to build up the advisement community before school even begins.  I have the older students write the cards to the incoming freshmen each year and I write personal notes to the sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Here are some pics of the cards I sent out this year.

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Freshmen card. I usually buy blank ones and have the older advisees write personal messages welcoming the frosh to our advisement.

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Returning advisee card 1. Sorry for the weird shadows/flash.

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Returning advisee card 2. I should probably mention that I teach at a Catholic school, hence the religious cards. Also, if you’re thinking these cards are kind of girly, you’d be right. It’s an all girls school. 🙂

In addition to writing and addressing the cards, I also dropped by school today. I found a home for some of the classroom supplies and got a tutorial from my friend, the “tech guy,” on how to use my new monitor. So in total I’m clocking 3.5 hours for today.

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