During a weekly advisory block, students participate in activities to develop habits that support living up to our School Creed four community pillars: initiative, integrity, compassion, and determination. Each division undertakes an exploration of a specific pillar, and the three divisions all connect to the pillar of integrity as an ongoing strand. Each division also meets for a weekly community meeting, where we explore the School Creed and celebrate students’ growth.
In primary school, we emphasize individual responsibilities as students and the exploration and celebration of the diversity of cultures in our class and larger school community. At a developmentally appropriate level, we spend time during advisory to explore civics and grapple with current events in our class and larger community. In elementary school, we emphasize our pillars of compassion and integrity and how each person contributes to a joyful community of learning where all voices are heard.
Middle school students have increasing agency to leverage this time to advance their academic and holistic goals. In collaboration with advisors, middle school students use this time to monitor their individual goals, hold weekly check-in meetings with advisors, and pursue independent learning. In addition, class meetings are called whenever events within or beyond our school walls present a need, or whenever the class has a goal they want to work on as a group. During the year, we use these blocks to prepare for special events in the calendar, including our three-day outdoor adventure trip and a special day where each advisory group plans their own field trip to explore New York City.
In eighth grade, advisory expands to focus on the transition to secondary school. High School Week offers an introduction to life in high school, including a changed schedule, increased workload, new privileges, and higher expectations. It offers a chance for students to learn where they may struggle and develop strategies to overcome those challenges. During this time, Harlem Academy alumni and secondary school leaders work with our eighth graders to understand and prepare for the challenges and opportunities related to the transition to ninth grade.