What is the definition/origin of each component of the flex/advisory/intervention (FAI) period?
The rationale for middle level schools, This We Believe, urges that schools be grounded in the diverse characteristics of early adolescent students. To achieve this goal, the locus of control over time should be in the hands of cohorts of teachers or teams. Teachers should manage time. Example: teachers on an interdisciplinary team can alter the sequence of classes or the intervention program, arrange large group sessions within the daily routine, adjust the length of instructional modules, and/or group and re-group students within the classroom or teaching sections of an interdisciplinary team. Flexibility forms the foundation for a culture supporting variance, modification or revision – hallmarks of FAI.
In creating developmentally responsive middle level schools, students should have an adult advocate, one who knows and cares for that individual. Students should participate in an advisory or group guidance experience that focuses on personal development topics such as honesty, loyalty, communication skills, group dynamics, conflict resolution, peer approval, bullying, or drug and alcohol resistance. A portion of the school day or week should be established for the advisory component on a fixed or as needed basis.
More recently, teachers have been charged with the responsibility to implement the three tiers of RtI (Response to Interventions) or MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports). As needs are assessed, help can be provided. Teachers will have an opportunity to uncover reasons for student’s lack of achievement. Immediacy and fluidity are important. In addition to the core and exploratory/elective courses that comprise the school’s curriculum, modules are to be created that provide remediation or enrichment, address the IEP requirements for special needs students and assist in the language development for students new to the United States. Specific placements in FAI increase the likelihood of full participation in the exploratory/electives portion of the curriculum, providing the least restrictive environment for all students.
Middle level educators are currently engaged in the challenge of unifying the potential foundation offered by flexibility to best integrate the need for advisory and requirement of intervention into one comprehensive program known as FAI. Initial questions to be answered include:
- How can the culture of flexibility become a reality?
- How can time for FAI be created daily?
- How will balance be achieved between the advisory and intervention components?
- How might all faculty members participate in FAI?
- How can FAI operate on one of three models: each interdisciplinary team, grade-level basis, or total school basis?
|Mathematics||CT 7-01||Alg.-01||FAI||Alg.-02||L||7-02||CT 7-03||TM||P|
FAI – Flex/Advisory/Intervention
L – Lunch
TM – Team Meeting; students in exploratory/elective classes
P – Plan; students in exploratory/elective classes
CT – Co-taught (mathematics or ELA)
R – Replacement mathematics or ELA
H – Honors
M7 – Mathematics grade7
Alg. – Algebra
I – Spanish I
II – Spanish II
In this scenario, each interdisciplinary team has complete control over the operation of the FAI period for their 125-150 students. At team meetings, teachers of that team choose to provide an advisory experience, Tier II RtI or MTSS session or have additional instructional time in the core area.
On a grade level basis, one specific period is dedicated to FAI for all teams of that grade. Students may be in an advisory or intervention grouping with any of the core teachers of that grade level or exploratory/elective teachers who may be assigned to FAI during that period. Teachers of that grade level cohort must agree to schedule advisory, intervention or additional core time on the same day. Common planning time continues to be essential for all core teachers of that grade level. In all likelihood, exploratory/elective teachers assigned to FAI for that grade may not be available for the planning period.
|Period||Grade 6||Grade 7||Grade 8|
On a school-wide basis, any period can be selected for FAI for all grade levels of that building. In this case, a more formal sub-schedule is needed to determine if the period is advisory or intervention for all. Additional core instructional time is less likely to occur.
|Period||Grade 6||Grade 7||Grade 8|
In making the ultimate decision to operate FAI on an interdisciplinary team, grade level or school-wide basis, the following questions should be considered:
- Which model provides the most efficient utilization of available resources or support personnel?
- Which model provides the greatest opportunity for exploratory/elective teachers to participate in FAI?
- Which model provides the greatest amount of fluidity as student needs evolve on a short-term basis?
- Which model requires the greatest amount of administrative coordination?
Tips for Implementing/Sustaining FAI
- Flex/advisory/intervention (FAI) should be viewed as an integral part of the instructional program designed to meet the needs of middle level students rather than an independent variable in the master schedule.
- Capitalizing on a foundation or platform of flexibility, balance is essential between the advisory and intervention functions of FAI.
- Specific plans can be created to address small group and individual needs, connect IEP requirements to daily lesson design, and enhance needed growth for English language learners.
- Success of FAI is directly related to the excellence of professional development that supports the program. Following a comprehensive professional development program at the time of implementation, ongoing follow-up is essential.
- When FAI is a function of each interdisciplinary team or as a grade level approach, primary management responsibility for advisory topics and intervention rests with the interdisciplinary team(s). Common planning time occurs when students attend exploratory/elective classes.
- When FAI is a function of each interdisciplinary team or as a grade level approach, groupings may change on an as needed basis. In the school-wide model, groupings are more likely to change on a quarterly, trimester or semester basis.
- When FAI is on the total school basis, a steering committee is needed to coordinate logistics. Interdisciplinary team teachers remain responsible for remedial placements while the steering committee is responsible for advisory topics as well as the enrichment portion of intervention. In the school-wide model, all exploratory/elective teachers are available for either remediation or enrichment.
- A full menu of advisory topics and related teaching resources should be developed, including transition to middle school, transition to high school, team building, values, study skills, human worth and dignity, tolerance, truth, enhancing self-concept, recognizing similarities and differences as well as helping special needs individuals. In many cases, advisory topics can be presented in the context of subject matter.
- As with other aspects of the school’s program, ongoing evaluation of FAI is needed. Certain changes can be made when identified; in other cases, changes can be made during an end-of-year review.
Advisory and intervention are key components of a developmentally responsive middle level school as prescribed in This We Believe. When these programs are built on a foundation of flexibility provided by the master schedule, teachers can operate FAI efficiently. To fully achieve the potential of FAI, middle level teachers should participate in an ongoing professional development program to effectively address student needs.