At the most prestigious international college prep schools in the world, academics are extremely important. Kids work hard and there are uniformly high expectations for performance and college matriculation. And, increasingly, these schools are borrowing from the Wildwood Way.
This month I spent some time at Singapore American School (SAS) and The American School in London (ASL). Both schools plan to launch high school Advisory programs next fall, based on the Wildwood approach. It was instructive to see how two very rigorous but culturally different institutions plan to integrate Advisory into students’ lives.
Both schools came to us in search of an approach to education that fully supports their students’ social & emotional needs. Research is making it increasingly clear that educational outcomes are enhanced when students feel emotionally and socially secure.
At SAS I had a chance to deepen the work begun on an initial trip back in October—working directly with over half of the high school faculty, helping them build skills that they’ll apply as Advisors next year. At ASL, the work was more focused on the administrators and teacher leaders who are currently building the program and will direct it next year in the high school. I worked briefly with middle school teachers at both schools, as well, providing a quick tune-up for their already existing programs.
At its core, Wildwood’s Advisory program provides every student with at least one adult who knows him or her well as both a student and a learner. Advisors mentor their students, monitor their academic progress, and maintain close connections with students’ families. Advisors celebrate their students’ successes and help them refocus and persevere when school gets challenging.
In small groups and intensive workshops, SAS and ASL teachers spent time learning with me what Wildwood faculty already know well. And its not always so obvious: in order to build deeper relationships with students through advisory, teachers themselves need to forge more meaningful connections with each other.
Learning first how to more thoughtfully communicate and enjoy faculty peers’ company is an essential pre-requisite to forming meaningful bonds with students. By sharing stories with each other about mentors who’ve played a significant role in their lives, and sharing their hopes and fears as new Advisors to their students next year, SAS and ASL teachers have started their training in most Wildwood of ways. We talk about it.
Through The Wildwood Outreach Center, Wildwood School has helped hundreds of schools—public, private, charter, and international—to develop Advisory programs that best suit their students’ needs.
With trips this spring to schools in Singapore, Zurich and London, Wildwood’s global reputation grows. The depth and quality of our middle and upper school Advisors’ mentoring and guidance is becoming the worldwide standard.
And the reasons are clear: when students at any age feel known and supported by the adults in their schooling, their confidence and academic success benefit. The good grades in high school are a positive, but the greater feelings of satisfaction with life and careers after college are the most significant outcome of our approach.
The broad support that students receive from caring adults and other advisors matter.
We’ve known that here in Los Angeles at Wildwood, and now the world is coming to understand it too.