Over the summer, BFS teachers and administrators worked to develop a formal advisory program for the Upper School. Building on the strengths of the long-established mindfulness and developmental workshop lessons, as well as past homeroom activities, and with consideration of the calendar priorities throughout the year (ex: Upper School dances and signature field trips), the committee worked to design a formal advisory program with intentional lessons about community, identity, reputation, social-emotional awareness, integrity, conflict resolution, respect, study skills, and executive function skills (ex: time management and organization) in the framework of the BFS mission and values. Each of the advisory lessons has specific connections to Quaker values, DEIJB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Belonging) work, and our mindfulness curriculum. The goal of the new advisory program is to support the personal growth of each of our students and to continue to nurture the sense of community, connection, and belonging within and across the division classes.
For the first 10 days of school, the 6th - 8th graders had an intensive focus on advisory to help the students bond, get to know one another, and learn how to listen to one another. Says Steve Bernardini, “The 10-day intensive really helped set the tone for the school year and allowed the class to identify and develop personal and community goals and expectations for moving forward together."
To that end, one recent advisory lesson focused on reputation. Over the course of two days, the students and teachers discussed the concept of reputation - the opinion that people have about someone or something, or how much respect or admiration someone or something receives, based on past behavior. The students reflected upon and discussed what they want their reputation to be both as a grade and as an individual, developing goals that they will return to and reflect upon for the rest of the school year.
While the Advisory Program was primarily designed for the Upper School, currently, the entire faculty is reflecting upon the ways we are all advisors to our students and is considering how we can approach this role with more intentionality and consistency across the School. Says the Advisory Committee Chair and Associate Head of School, Rossana Zapf, "Throughout the Upper School, there is a palpable sense of community, scholarship, and purpose, a wonderful result of the work of the Advisory Program. I look forward to seeing how our explicit approach to teaching social, emotional, and academic skills will empower our students to be mindful and engaged citizens."