D'Addario Advisory

Upper Schoolers Discuss and Process Current and Historical Events

At the beginning of the year, each advisory establishes Advisory Norms. The norms are overarching principles followed to create a safe, inclusive, and supportive space for all advisory members to share their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. They set the stage for the many important conversations that take place throughout the year, like Monday’s roundtable discussion of students’ thoughts and feelings about local, national, and international current events. Guided by their advisors, they processed their reactions and shared, sometimes anonymously, what they learned.

In Upper School History Teacher Tanya Roth and Middle & Upper School Performing Arts Teacher Becky Long’s advisory, group norms were established with the use of Nearpod. Students submitted ideas of norms to be considered and then voted on the ones they liked most. Check out their Norms Board:

Norms Board

Here’s another sample of the Advisory Norms from Upper School Science Teacher Justin Little’s advisory:

  • Converse to comprehend, not to convince
  • Be conscious of interrupting
  • Be aware of what you are saying and how it could affect people
  • Be pleasant to one another
  • Respect others’ opinions
  • Understand where other people are coming from on their opinions
  • Speak from the « I » perspective

After agreeing upon the norms, advisories discussed everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to anti-racism movements as part of their roundtable discussion. Students were welcome to share verbally in Zoom or by writing down their thoughts through a number of different platforms utilized by their teachers.

In Upper School Spanish Teacher Kelly Weidenmiller’s advisory, students reflected about what they saw in the news through an interactive tool called Mentimeter which helped them look for shared experiences with their peers. She offered two prompts to help guide the discussion: « I saw/heard about…and it made me feel… » followed by « It helped me learn/understand that…and after that, I decided to… » Here are some of her students’ responses:

  • « I heard about COVID-19, the initially isolated outbreak…that crept across the world and then surged into a global pandemic. I felt small and helpless. It helped me open my eyes to the possibility that anyone is at risk, and I am in a family where I have high-risk relatives. After that, I decided to quarantine just to be sure my family and friends were safe. »
  • « I saw the response to the killing of Black Americans spark a nationwide movement of black lives matter. It made me feel confused and saddened by the realness of the hate but motivated to change that. It helped me learn that even though these things have never personally happened to me, I am still greatly affected by them just by the color of my skin. After that, I decided to show my support for black lives matter by going to a peaceful protest. »

Kristin Roberts, Upper School History Teacher, asked her advisees to individually consider what they’d heard, how they felt about it, and what they learned. Then she asked them to share something they were thinking about via PollEverywhere, an anonymous polling website. Here are some of their statements:

  • « I think it’s kind of shocking how we went from living normal life to being stuck indoors for a whole six months. This really is so sad how it is taking a toll on several families: unemployment, family deaths, school, etc. »
  • « It’s reminded me that whatever people are going through, others are sometimes going through something even worse. »
  • « It’s helped me decide to be appreciative of when I can go out and be close with my friends. »

Tiffany D’Addario, Upper School Fine Arts Teacher, guided her advisory through a discussion of examples of racism throughout history, dating back to the 1400s, while Mandarin Teacher Lily Childs’ advisory talked about the many instances of divisiveness occurring across the country and across nations. Some students shared, « Solidarity towards anti-racism has grown greatly the last few months which has made the movement all the more effective. The peaceful and violent events that we either glimpse, participate in, or hear about are simply with the motive of getting the message across to a larger audience. It is moving and heartbreaking all at the same time. »

Thank you to our advisors and advisories for engaging in these serious and important discussions as we strive to « meet the challenges of this world with confidence and embrace all its people with compassion. »