Quick Wins with Student Centered Advising in the K-12 Classroom

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We know that as teachers, we often wear so many different hats in the classroom, many of which have nothing to do with the curriculum we are tasks to teach. Sometimes it is difficult to juggle all of this and many in education are struggling to find a way to balance it all. The key in all of it (and it’s not a cure-all, but it definitely helps with the load) is by focusing on student centered advising.

What is Student Centered Advising?

Student centered advising is a non-judgmental approach to helping students set and reach educational goals. It helps students stay on track, manage their time, and feel successful as learners.

The main goal of student centered advising is for the teacher to teach and mentor and not judge or punish. They take times during class or other assigned sessions to meet with students to talk about any problems they are having and help them find a way around those issues. Students, then, know that the teacher is there for them if they need something but they also have a time limit on it. This can be very helpful because students won’t feel as though the teacher is going to pry into their personal life or go on a long tangent about the problem.

This happens much more naturally in a student-led classroom as the entire basis for this form of teaching is that you are able to have individualized time with every student in your classroom without it taking away from what little time you have with them each day. It’s naturally “worked in” to the flow of the classroom.

Because of this model, students are also taught how to manage their time and set goals for themselves as well as at least two steps they can take to achieve those things, if possible. If not possible, then there is always help from teachers and staff around them to show them where they can find that assistance.

Quick Wins with Student Centered Advising in the K-12 Classroom

What are the benefits of student centered advising?

As a teacher, one benefit to student centered advising is that it helps teach us that we should always be setting our students up for success. Whether they are in school or not, the skills you can impart to them while they’re with you will really help mold their lives. This way, when they’re adults and have families of their own, they will look back on their schooling and remember the patience, kindness, and resources that were offered to them along the way.

Student centered advising shows students the importance of setting goals for themselves as well as how to accomplish those goals. It is a natural extension from project-based learning where it’s not just about passing a test or getting into college, but the actual day-to-day processes of reaching those goals. They understand that they need to be working hard and doing well in school so that they can do well on tests, get into college, and later, have a successful career.

Student centered advising is beneficial because it helps students learn how to be proactive with their problems. They are taught to ask questions when they need help, look for outside resources if they have a problem, and never give up on themselves. It’s all about showing them that we believe in them and we care about what happens to each of them as individuals.

What does student centered advising look like?

The best way to do student centered advising is in a non-judgmental atmosphere. There should be no shame in their voice when asking for help, and there should never be any anger or frustration associated with the dialogue between them and their advisor. There should also be an equal amount of positive reinforcement as well so that they know all actions are equally valuable.

Student centered advising comes in all shapes and forms, but you never want to be the sole person responsible for this form of teaching. If possible, try to pass it off onto another teacher or staff member so that you aren’t bogged down with extra work because you are already busy enough as is.

Sometimes it takes a little bit of creativity to make it work, but there are always ways to make sure you can successfully help your student. It’s all about finding what works for them and making sure they know that you’re here for them whenever they need it.

There are many benefits to student centered advising, but the most important one is that students learn that their academics are important, but so is their welfare. In a more traditional model of teaching, this is often pushed by the wayside (except for the students who really stand out by needing this) because we simply don’t have the time. Fortunately, the learner-centered model helps change this.

How can you apply student centered advising to your own classroom?

  • What is a typical day like at your school?
  • How do you go about class planning and managing student behavior?
  • How do you help students set goals for themselves as well as teach them how to accomplish those goals?

Student centered advising comes from the philosophy that every student should have a successful experience. It’s not just about helping them pass their tests and get into college, but it’s also about making sure they have the resources to make a successful career later on in life.

Student centered advising revolves around the idea of you being a guide for your students instead of a professor or a therapist. You want to be there for each student when they need help along the way, but you also want to make sure they know how to ask questions in the future when they’re in need.

This form of teaching is beneficial because it helps students learn how to be proactive with their problems. They are able to look for outside resources if they have a problem and never give up on themselves. They’re taught that we believe in them, and they know that we care about what happens to them as individuals.

There are many benefits to student centered advising, but the most important one is that students learn that their academics are important, but so is their welfare. In a more traditional model of teaching, this often gets pushed aside because of lack of time, but the learner-centered model helps change that.

The Challenges of Student Centered Advising

There will always be challenges when it comes to teaching in any form. That being said, there are some very specific issues related to student centered advising that you must be prepared for in order to make it work successfully. For instance:

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  • Students will lose trust if you don’t follow through on your promises. It might take time for them to realize that this doesn’t reflect poorly on their worth, but this is still a very real risk.

  • Students who are struggling may not have the initiative to seek out answers on their own, so you must be diligent about keeping them accountable and making sure they’re progressing as expected.

  • Some students may approach you with problems that go beyond the scope of your class, but those issues can complicate things if they’re not dealt with properly.

  • Your workload will increase if you make the switch to student centered advising. You’ll have more students’ grades, test scores, and other information for each of them that you track personally. That might mean that grading your papers is a slower process than it used to be.

That being said, these challenges are manageable when you take the time to properly prepare for them. For instance, if you know students might fear trusting in your abilities to help them, make sure they understand that their grade is based on much more than just one assignment or test (that can be stressful). You’ll also need to keep an open dialogue with students and be transparent about what’s expected of them.

Student centered advising is definitely not right for every teacher, but it can be very beneficial when done correctly. A lot of the issues that arise are easily overcome when you have a plan in place and it’s well worth considering if this sounds like something that would benefit your class.

The Positive Effects of Well-Run Student Centered Advising

The benefits of this model show up pretty quickly once it is in place. For instance:

  • Students will feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it.
  • Students will be able to stay on track to meet their goals and do well in your class.
  • You can spend more time teaching instead of just handing out paperwork, which makes grading much easier.
  • Students will be more likely to continue their education after high school, which means they’ll be successful later in life.

That is not to say that there won’t be problems when you introduce student centered advising. There will definitely be a learning curve for both you and your students as they get used to the change in focus and the philosophy of the class. It’s important to be patient with them as they adjust because student centered advising can really change the trajectory of their lives for the better.

This form of teaching is beneficial because it helps students learn how to be proactive with their problems. They are able to look for outside resources if they have a problem and never give up on themselves. They’re taught that we believe in them and they know we care about what happens to them as individuals.

This form of teaching also helps improve retention rates, which is crucial for many high schools. Many students drop out before graduating because their lack of success has caused feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy. Often, it’s not just one big thing that holds them back, but small issues that add up over time. Student centered advising makes sure these students don’t fall into that category by keeping them consistently on track and getting them what they need each step of the way.

Student Centered Advising and the 4 Keys

Finding the perfect balance of student centered advising in your classroom isn’t difficult, it just needs to ebb and flow with the students and where they are (physically, mentally, and emotionally). Being flexible is the key to making all of this work. The key is engagement. There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom.

If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available

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