Want to find ways to connect to your Advisory? Have you tried YouTube? Here are 5 great videos that help create solidarity and shared experience in the classroom!

A few years ago my school introduced Advisories into our daily schedule. For twenty minutes each morning, educators in our building meet with approximately fifteen students, grouped together heterogeneously by grade level. The goal of Advisory is to provide students with an opportunity to feel connected to their school through a small, supportive community of students, guided by an adult mentor.

Every four years I am faced with a new class of freshmen in Advisory, many with absolutely nothing in common.  These students are often scared and subdued – afraid of looking “weird” to their classmates, frightened to speak up. They don’t know what to expect from high school, and Advisory is just another uncomfortable and awkward moment in their day.

Many of the students speak different languages. I have Pre-AP students and small learning group students in one Advisory. I usually do a series of icebreakers to get to know students and to help them get to know each other – pair/shares and games, etc. – but after that first week, I worry about how to connect with my Advisory students, how to create shared experiences, and how I can make high school more fun and enjoyable for them.

One evening I watched a YouTube video of a news interview with an elderly woman, who had survived the 2013 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. As she stands on the pile of rubble that was her home, she explains that before the tornado hit, she was in the bathroom with her dog on her lap. Afterwards, her faithful pet was gone. While the interview is taking place, the camera person sees movement in the rubble. Sure enough, the woman’s dog is spotted underneath the debris, and together the news team and the woman work to free the dog. Tears were streaming down my face as I watched the woman reunite with her beloved pet. I found the story so uplifting that I wanted to share it.

The next day during Advisory, I told my students I wanted them to watch something, and I showed them the tornado video. Several of the students cried, too, and we watched it over and over. It led to a great conversation where we shared stories and got to know one another. I felt I had hit upon something.

Over the next two years, my Advisory students and I have shared our favorite YouTube videos. Some of the videos are inspiring tales of resilience and overcoming obstacles in the face of adversity. Some of them are just plain silly and tension-relieving.

Most importantly, watching the videos together enabled me get to know my students and helped my students get to know each other. We laughed together, cried together, and created something that was uniquely ours. When I pass my students in the hallway and greet them with a tag line from one of the videos, we are revealing our own secret passwords that connect us to one another.

My Advisory and I put together our Top 5 Videos.  Maybe you’d like to share them with your Advisories, too!

1.  Woman Reunites with Dog After Tornado – The one that started it all.

2.  Jimmy Fallon: Lip Synch Battle with Emma Stone – Just about anything from Jimmy Fallon can please my students, but seeing Emma Stone take on these lightning fast lyrics, brings my students to their feet. We’ve probably watched this video no less than twenty times.

3.  Spartan Cheerleaders at a Chess Tournament from Saturday Night Live – This is just pure silliness. Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s awkward teens are hilarious, and this particular skit is sidesplittingly funny. The tag line: “I Don’t Know, I Don’t Know” became one of the shared sayings for my Advisory – our own little private joke that built camaraderie in our classroom.

4.  Amy’s and Andy’s Haunted House – Ellen DeGeneres – Ellen sends her writer, Amy, and Executive Producer, Andy, into a Haunted House. Watching zombies jump out at this pair has become a Halloween tradition, and Andy’s tag line: “Stop it! Stop it Right Now,” is an oft-repeated phrase in our Advisory.

5.  Rob Capicchioni and his Amazing Story – 17 Year Old Rob Capicchioni was lured into a bad neighborhood by a friend, shot three times, and left for dead. His heart wrenching story of survival is inspirational and uplifting.

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