- Why Nysmith
Students coming into the 4th grade at Nysmith have a welcome addition to their schedule—a daily, 30-minute class called Student Advisory. Student Advisory sounds just like what you might imagine—a time for students to get advice or seek assistance from a teacher/advisor to help with anything they might need to stay on top of their studies. But more than that, it’s also a time to learn how to manage their growing independence.
In the 4th grade, students switch to letter grades and have the ability to move between classes unassisted. With this newfound freedom, students must learn how to manage themselves and their time responsibly. Student Advisory teacher, Emily Bramnick, describes her advisory class as a hybrid of both study skills and socio-emotional learning. She says, “We use advisory to help with organizational and study skills so students stay on top of their assignments, but we also provide social and emotional education through mindfulness lessons, organized games, and other activities.”
Mindfulness is something that Bramnick has some experience in, as she sponsored the Mindfulness Club at Nysmith last year as well as having a background in social work. In a recent class, Bramnick asked her students, “What does mindfulness mean?” One student answered the question this way: “Mindfulness is knowing about what’s internal and external. How what you do affects other people and how what other people do can affect you.” Another word the 4th graders use for mindfulness is “awareness.” Within that classroom discussion, students also talked about what it means to have gratitude and the importance of being polite. They discussed ways to have polite conversation; saying “please” and “thank you,” making eye contact when talking to others, and even the concept of personal space. Bramnick always brings these lessons right back to the classroom, asking students how these concepts can help with academics and with their peers.
Beyond these important lessons and staying on top of their schoolwork, on any given day, advisory students can also be engaged in any number of fun, organized games like Apples to Apples or Four Corners. On a nice day, they can use their advisory period to spend extra time outdoors, or they can use the media lab (library) as a study period. Having the built-in time and space to adjust to the new reality of what it means to be an upper school student is a welcome interlude for our 4th graders. And with the tools learned in student advisory, students can prepare for the future while still enjoying the present.