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Advisory is a regularly scheduled period of time, typically during the school day, when small groups of students gather together for the purpose of community building, social-emotional development, and support. These groups are typically led by an adult who advises on academic, social, emotional, and/or future planning topics. It is most common at the middle and high school levels because students transition between classroom spaces and would otherwise lack a physical and psychological home base. However, elementary schools also often engage in advisory-like practices in their self-contained space. The overarching goal of advisory is to build strong relationships between the advisor and students, as well as peer-to-peer relationships. The advisor serves as an advocate to ensure every student and family is known well—academically, socially, and emotionally—by at least one adult in the school. Advisory can also be a structure for community building across the school.

The Coalition of Essential Schools says, “At its heart, advisory forges connections among students and the school community, creating conditions that facilitate academic success and personal growth.” Current published research indicates that this kind of program leads to various positive outcomes—such as increased attendance and sense of belonging—that correlate with improved academic outcomes.

For this Collection, we define Advisory as an umbrella term for experiences that foster relationships and social-emotional development in a school environment. These experiences often include routines and structures that focus on:

  • Community building 
  • Goal-setting and reflection 
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Self-exploration
  • Emotional regulation work
  • Academic support

What Makes This Innovative?

Whole-Child Focus

Advisory offers regular time and space for growing multiple dimensions of human development—from academics to emotions.

Affirmation of Self & Others

Advisory is an opportunity to build one’s understanding of self and those across lines of difference.

Connection & Community

Advisory enables each student to be deeply known by at least one adult and several peers.

Advisory Models on the Exchange

Below, you will find several models on The Innovative Models Exchange that seek to foster relationships and support students’ holistic development in distinct ways.

Grades 9-12
ARISE High School

Adelante Student Services

Adelante Student Services supports all students to rise up by aligning academic, behavioral, and social-emotional approaches to ensure students and their families are provided integrated and responsive interventions attuned to their specific needs.

Grades K-12

Big Picture Learning

The Big Picture Learning school design activates deeper student engagement in learning by using interest-driven, real-world contexts as its pedagogical foundation.

Grades K-12
Valor Collegiate Academy


The Compass model fosters holistic and adaptive development— including key physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual disciplines—through a focus on community and relationships as well as individual identity work.

Grades K-12
formerly Expeditionary Learning

EL Education

EL Education’s comprehensive school model builds student capacity for three Dimensions of high achievement—character, mastery of skills and content, and high-quality student work—through the application of Core Practices centered on real-world learning and teamwork.

Grades 7-12
Intrinsic Schools


Intrinsic’s EPIC model supports students in cultivating their strengths and interests and building critical habits and skills to enable them to be successful in school and life.

Grades K-8
Achievement First Greenfield Schools

Greenfield Goal Teams

Greenfield Goal Teams provide students with space to set weekly goals and receive support from peers and a caring adult to build their confidence and motivation as they work to achieve those goals.

Grades 9-12
City Neighbors High School


Pod is an enhanced advisory model within which learners experience a variety of activities that promote belonging and develop learners’ skills.

Grades K-12
The Father Mark Payne Institute

St. Benedict’s Model

St. Benedict’s model gives students tremendous leadership opportunities and fosters a strong sense of community so that students become responsible citizens eager to contribute to the community and the world.

Grades PK-5
Van Ness Elementary, A DCPS School

Whole Child Model

The Whole Child Model integrates multiple tiers of support throughout the school day to build a safe and supportive school climate as well as the intrapersonal and interpersonal skills young children need to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and handle conflicts productively.

Resources from Transcend and Beyond

The following resources can help deepen your understanding of advisory and support the design and implementation of a high-quality model, whether it’s one from The Innovative Models Exchange or one your community designs.

Developmental Relationships
Search Institute

This organization conducts their own research regarding the power of relationships and creates resources to support schools in designing the structures to build them.

Goal-Setting Practices That Support a Learning Culture
Phi Delta Kappan

This article supports educators in creating a culture for student goal-setting and progress monitoring.

Restorative Justice Handbook
Oakland Unified School District

This implementation guide helps schools or districts looking to leverage restorative practices generally, as well as specific practices like circle. These practices support community building and conflict resolution.

SEE Elementary School Curriculum
Emory University

This social-emotional learning curriculum was developed by a group of experts—including the Dalai Lama. The curriculum consists of seven chapters with scripted learning experiences and a final capstone project that can easily be implemented in an advisory space.

SEE Middle School Curriculum
Emory University

This social-emotional learning curriculum was developed by a group of experts—including the Dalai Lama. The curriculum consists of seven chapters with scripted learning experiences and a final capstone project that can easily be implemented in an advisory space.

Social Capital Tool

This is designed for users interested in the role of social relationships in the success of real-world learning and the potential of these experiences to build the three aspects of social capital: social support, developmental relationships, and social connections.