Advisory Program (Gr. 6-8)

Developmental Designs for Middle School

Described as the older sibling to Responsive Classroom, Developmental Designs for Middle School is founded upon six research principles that create the base for successful teaching and learning.

1) Social learning is as important as academic learning.
2) We learn best by constructing our own understanding through exploration, discovery, application, and reflection.
3) The greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interactions.
4) Students need to learn a set of personal/social skills to be socially and academically successful: Cooperation-Assertion-Responsibility-Empathy-Self-control
5) Teachers need to know the social, emotional, and intellectual needs of their students as well as the content they teach.
6) Students need to trust adults for academic and social success to thrive.

The following are practices that are the basis of the Developmental Designs training for teachers that address the six guiding principles. Teachers often engage in these practices, but we have decided to focus on the following as we continue to structure advisory to create consistency though out each classroom in grades 6-8. These practices help provide a common experience for every child.

1. Community-building Advisory: The core of this practice is the Circle of Power and Respect. Students and advisor meet in a circle to build community, practice social skills and readiness for learning.
*Greeting-One at a time, say hello in your choice of language.
*Sharing-Whip share about what you are good at outside of school
*Game-Is This Seat Taken? Focus is on eye contact and including all members.
*Focused activity-Random Act of Kindness: For example, having the students from 1C (Ms. Currle) visit with Mr. Greiner’s advisory and engage in craft activities that the 7th graders designed and help facilitate.

2. Goals and Declaration: With the help of their advisors, students set goals at the start of each term to help them stay focused on being the best student and community member they can be.

3. Common Expectations: As students attend classes, teachers will share information specific to advisory, math, ELA, history, Spanish, French, science, art, conservatory, physical education and health (grades 7/8.) You will learn different information in your classes, but use many similar skills and Habits of Mind to learn and grow. Although each class will have its own curriculum, all the teachers have similar expectations and routines that help ensure every middle school student’s success.

4. Reflective Loop: Planning, reflecting and assessing and then planning is a continuous structure to promote conscious growth. For example: *Students reflect on work in class and then choose two examples to discuss during Portfolio Share with parents.

5. Power of Play: They may be in middle school, but they still need to have fun. Advisory games are designed to build community, gives students energy and restores their focus. For example:
*Cooperative and inclusive games are part of each advisory
* “Mini-electives” are part of the unit rotation to allow student choice.

The middle school teachers have worked very hard to implement the advisory program. Eight of nine teachers have been trained in Development Designs 1 and two have been trained in DD2. They are proud of the results so far and are currently working on designing curriculum that is grade specific based on the needs of our students here at Lawrence. I am proud to share that Brookline has decided to use the Developmental Designs approach as the program to guide the creation of advisories across the eight middle schools. With this structure, we can provide a common advisory experience for all of Brookline’s middle school students as we support their academic and social-emotional learning during these transition years.