The advisor program is one of the great differentiators of boarding school. The fact that students are paired up with an advisor who helps them with everything from selecting classes to navigating the emotional swings of adolescence is one of the main reasons parents choose Tilton School. It’s also one of the main factors that many of our alumni point to when asked why their time at Tilton was so formative.
But just as the world and the skills required to navigate this world change, so do the individual needs of our students. The issues the parents faced in high school are certainly not the same challenges facing their teenage children today.
Last year, through the work of developing the school curriculum, the design-thinking teams asked: How can we make the advisor program even better? In addition, how can we better train our advisors to help students create their own personalized Guided Program of Study (GPS) of curricular and program opportunities?
As the close partnership between advisor and advisee becomes more and more critical, additional training and professional development for our adults was the next logical step to help students succeed. To facilitate this, Tilton School partnered with Dr. Robert Brooks, a world-renowned psychologist and author of Raising Resilient Children, and The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life. Through this partnership, Tilton teachers and advisors received additional training and support they need in order to best address the changing needs of their advisees. Dr. Brooks first presented to the entire faculty and staff during the opening meetings in August 2017. In that presentation, titled “The Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Motivation and Resilience in Students,” he spoke on how advisors can be the “charismatic” adults for students (someone who provides a positive influence), finding the micro-moments of our everyday lives that end up making big impacts, and helping students identify how and where they excel (their islands of competency).
"The leadership and entire faculty at Tilton School recognize that a focus on the 'whole' child leads to greater motivation, caring, responsibility, and resilience." Dr. Robert Brooks
From that introduction, the Advisor Design Team moved forward to create a year-long plan to provide advisors with the tools they need to best meet the needs of students. This included the introduction of the First Friday Speaker Series and additional Home Nights throughout the year.
“In the past, our advisor program has been more transactional than transformational,” said Vinny Giambrocco, Dean of School Life and part of the Advisor Design Team. “We wanted to find ways to empower our advisors to have more meaningful, organic interactions with students that move beyond the role of teacher/pupil and fully embrace the role of mentor/mentee.” Part of this process is to train advisors on the new curriculum changes coming; including the Mastery Transcript Consortium
and helping students create their personalized GPS.
Dr. Brooks will continue to assist the Advisor Design Team through monthly conference calls. Additional partners and professional development opportunities for advisors will be made available over the next few years as the program further develops.
“As much as the advising process is about the kids, this is also about the process of educating us as adults, and that process doesn’t stop,” said Giambrocco.
This year, students will be paired with their advisors after the start of school and will have more input on who they would like as their advisor. This new process will hopefully prove to form stronger bonds between advisor and advisee.