A middle-school advisory is a group made up of students and one teacher who is the adviser. These groups meet on a regular basis, some daily and some weekly, depending on the school system. During this period, students discuss problems, concerns or even fears they are dealing with, as well as goals and accomplishments. There are many activities that advisers can use to encourage effective communication within the advisory group.
Middle-school students are at an age when they are no longer little kids, but not yet young adults. This is a difficult time period and the constant onset of new experiences often brings confusion or stress. Unfortunately, children between the ages of 10 and 12 also have a tough time asserting themselves and, for lack of a better term, embarrass easily. An effective activity for an advisory group is to pass out index cards to the students. Have each student write a question on the card and leave their name off of it. Collect the cards, mix them up, and pass them out again. Go around the room and have each student read the card he has received. Open a discussion about the question and ask for suggestions from students on how to answer the questions. This dialogue can be a tool for a child in addressing worries he was too shy to bring up himself.
Pressure Role Play
During the middle-school years, students start to feel pressures they may not have had to experience before. These include peer pressure, school pressure and pressures from their parents. Brainstorm a list of possible situations where students feel pressured. Use the list to role play these situations. For example, ask one student to play the parent and one to play the child. The parent should confront the child about a test grade and perhaps spending less time with friends. When the role play is through, open a discussion on what better methods the child could have used during the discussion. Think of ways for dealing with pressure like listening to music, exercising, talking to a friend, keeping a journal or asking a grown-up for help.
Finally, self esteem starts to become an issue at around age 10. During this time, children's self esteem begins to decline as a result of influences like friends and the media. Bring a stack of magazines to school and hand them out to the group along with scissors and glue. Ask the students to cut out words or images that stand out to them as telling them how or what they should be or look like and glue them onto a poster board. When you have finished, go around the room and discuss what those images mean, why they were put there and why they are false or misleading. Discuss ways to increase self esteem like joining a club or engaging in a hobby that the student may excel at or learning positive self talk.