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Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) has added an advisory period to the class schedule to support students during distance learning and provide an opportunity to discuss these unprecedented times. After a month of school, advisory period has proved to be successful and has helped students adjust to online learning.
Advisory serves as a community meeting place rather than a class, but because there are no grades a lot of students are questioning the usefulness of the period. Junior Caroline Moe said, “I think advisory is great, but we don’t need to do it as often as twice a week…having the extra time to work on asynchronous work or consult with our teachers will be more beneficial.” While students must take advantage of this ungraded period to have stress-free community-building conversations, advisory did eat away at valuable work time.
However, what makes advisory successful is its adaptability; after the first few weeks of school, many students had an opinion about how the period should be structured and administration listened. Administrator Molly Clarkson said, “of the two advisory periods a week, one will be structured activities. Sometimes they’ll be ATL lessons, community conversations, important student activities…The second day of the week will be an unstructured day where students will have a choice of what they’re gonna do…For example, a club could host a town hall, students can check in with their teachers, or choose to work independently.” Providing students with an optional Friday advisory only adds to its versatility since the student themselves knows how best to achieve their academic success.
Beyond the academic value, the extra period also allows students to have social interaction that many have lacked over the past many months. Junior Julia Zawatsky said, “I think advisory is a good way to meet and interact with others outside of the regular school day, and I love how now we have a place where we can discuss important issues and events going on in our world today.” The RM community is still unified and isn’t letting a global pandemic change this.
School should not only be associated with grades, but also with a safe community that values every individual. Advisory reminds students that they are not alone in their struggles during quarantine and can lean on their classmates and teachers. Whether you attend Friday’s advisory or use it for work time instead, the period can be very beneficial if it is embraced with an open mind, but what you take from it is all up to you. During these hard times, students may struggle with their mental health, so they should use advisory as a resource to help them persevere.