Advisories resume; more changes still planned

October 9, 2021 — by Sam Bai and Andrew Lin
Photo by Andrew Lin

The Professional Development Day on Oct. 5 sought to get advisory lessons back on track after a month-long pause caused by teachers’ objections and concerns about teaching some of the content. The lessons, which resumed Oct. 13, will be similar in format to the Title IX presentations given earlier in the year. 

The revised 40-minute advisory lessons will continue to address issues like sexual harassment, academic integrity, digital safety and mental health and will take place during tutorials on some Blue Day Wednesdays for the rest of the year. 

The first advisory periods, which happened early in the school year and addressed Title IX,  were paused and placed under review after teachers had voiced their concerns about not feeling qualified to teach the modules.

 Though teachers said they consider these subjects important, many were not confident teaching the material in an informative and appropriate manner without more training. A new advisory model pushed out by the district allows teachers the option of either presenting the curriculum to students, having another district staff member lead the lesson, or doing a push-and-play model with a video.

Chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu said that she “wasn’t comfortable” teaching some of the advisory topics without adequate training. 

Instead, Nakamatsu proposed the administration “could bring in guest speakers who are trained professionals, and during advisory they could do something where all the freshmen go to the McAfee.”

Another teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, added that there should be some level of training given to teachers before teaching lessons, saying “they shouldn’t just be sent a slide deck and be told to teach X, Y and Z.”

Hearing these concerns, district leaders decided to postpone some of the most sensitive topics to next semester, allowing time to decide how they will handle teaching these lessons and make necessary changes to format and execution. 

Along with teacher complaints, students argued that topics have been taught repeatedly in advisories last year and this year, leading to apathy and indifference. 

“Due to advisory taking up the entire tutorial, I noticed that some people decided to sleep or wander off as they felt that the material was not useful for them,” senior Rishi Atreya said. 

Atreya said that the administration could make advisory lessons more engaging by incorporating activities into the curriculum, as opposed to purely lecture-based classes.

Sophomore Ethan Chau believes one solution could be either condensing advisory and making it shorter or changing the lessons to something that all students can access from home, similar to last year’s asynchronous advisories.

“I don’t think advisory should be continued until they can resolve the issues of both students and faculty members,” Chau said.

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