My High School Advisory or “Why talking with teenagers is important.”

Human teenagers, Dangerous and Mysterious. And cool.

Most adults are scared of talking to teenagers. They’re scared because they were teenagers. They remember the time of life when your problems seemed to be magnified each day. They connect teen years with parental distrust, future doubt, peer conflicts and overall cluelessness about what the future will bring. And? Homework.

Anyway, many schools have advisories. An advisory is a period in the day when students regather in a common room in a small group. In the “old days” this was called homeroom.

In my homeroom we sat in aisles by last name alphabetic order. So, I got to sit next to Lori W. who I had a big crush on. Unfortunately, I sat in front of Jamie Z. who was a girl with demons. She was so unhappy at age 16 that one day she threw a handful of very sharp carpet nails at the teacher who happened to be standing next to me. I still remember her name because I had to pick the sharp carpet nails out of my head and the algebra book on my desk. I’m afraid that if Jamie were in school today, she would be a prime candidate to be a first person shooter.

Advisory is better than homeroom, not just because my students haven’t yet thrown carpet nails at me. Its better because we get to “chill” or sit and talk informally with each other instead of having to be silent for 20 minutes while listening to administrators talk on the intercom or say the pledge of allegiance. We talk about things like “fake news”, career choices, “election cycles” and how to treat other people. Sometimes we play “top ten list games” and “family feud”. Somedays, not all of us are feeling great. Dabari somedays comes in tired from staying up too late. Casmina has a step-dad who causes her problems that are too complicated to get into here. Samantha always seems calm and quiet but sometimes, with her closest friends, she can share what really bothers or worries her.

The bottom line is that advisory is more human than homeroom was. 1983 (when Samantha’s mom was 3 years old) wasn’t a great time for schools to be built to be “human” friendly. They were leftovers from the post WW2 “factory model” when schools were built to hold the greatest number of students possible, without lots of concern about how those students were learning and living.

This was edited by Dabari, whose real name will remain secret.

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