Middle and high school students at International School Bangkok (ISB) participate in a special Advisory program which supports students’ personal development. As part of our wide range of child safeguarding practices, these Advisory programs include regular morning meetings several times per week to build an atmosphere of trust and solidarity. These meetings place students into Advisory groups, where they receive continuous personal support. They aim to foster a sense of community, ensure there is an adult advocate for each child, and develop life skills not covered in the academic curriculum.
Each session is 20 minutes in length, and focuses on community building, social and emotional learning, digital citizenship, social skills, and having fun. Other topics covered include developing and nurturing healthy friendships, how to handle stress, how the brain learns, preparing for life choices, and preparing students for life after ISB. By participating in the ISB Advisory program, students receive continuous reassurance that they are known and appreciated every day at school, by their peers as well as the teachers and faculty.
Along the way, students also receive valuable opportunities to grow in key areas such as executive functioning skills, empathy, wellness, and social interactions. These qualities will help them develop a healthy personality and mindset, as they learn more about how to take care of themselves as well as their friends and their community.
Students make the most of their time in school when they are motivated to participate and learn. By spending time in a positive community environment, children become more capable outside the classroom, giving them the comfort and self-confidence they need to lead healthy, active, balanced lives.
Advisory Teachers are also present and available for guidance when students have questions on academic or social topics. The result is a safe and inclusive community of students.
This program fits into ISB’s wider focus on Culture of Care, which carries across the whole school. The Culture of Care program looks at four core ideas:
- Being Cared for
- Caring for Self
- Caring for Others
- Caring for the World
A school needs to function as a healthy community
In many educational institutions, standard social support methods include the availability of onsite counselors as well a designated classes to teach basic life skills. Additional efforts at inclusivity, such as diverse curriculum design and meeting the needs of diverse learning, are meant to encourage a greater understanding of people from a range of backgrounds.
While these measures are helpful, at ISB we go a step further. We find that students have the best experiences when they are welcomed into a safe, caring school community. We therefore take the above techniques, expand them, integrate them into students’ daily experiences, and supplement them with more proactive social and emotional support programs. By virtue of this approach, our ISB campus functions as a caring and inclusive community where students feel safe, secure and accepted.
Because they are able to rely on emotional support and a positive school atmosphere, students feel like they truly belong – and are more energetic and motivated as a result. They study harder, get involved more, and find genuine satisfaction in their academic achievements as well as their personal successes. Our students’ continuing ability to participate and perform well in all types of school activities, together with their sense of personal pride and school spirit, are proof that the ISB Culture of Care enables success both inside and outside the classroom.