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The Campanile

Students should have more say in teacher advisor assignments

The last three years of high school are widely considered the most important time in an adolescent’s academic and personal life. In this hectic, critical period, teacher advisors are meant to serve as trusted adults on campus to help guide the students in their advisory classes. The Campanile thinks students should have a voice in the teacher advisors they are assigned. It would allow for much more meaningful connections between teacher advisors and their students.

The current system in place has freshman fill out a survey with questions about their personality and interests. According to Ann Deggelman, the co-coordinator of the Teacher Advisor Program, Paly hired an engineer to create an algorithm that groups students into cohorts based on their survey responses.

Typically, the cohorts will have similar interests and responses but a variety of personality traits, such as a mix of introverts and extroverts. Then, based on a different survey filled out my teacher advisors, each cohort is assigned to a teacher advisor.

The purpose of this survey system is to expedite the assignment process, since in the pre-algorithm it took many days to create the advisory rosters. Deggelman also said teacher advisors are more content with the results of the current system, as it creates a more balanced and diverse cross sections of students.

However, many students have complained of being matched with teachers with whom they never take a class. According to Deggelman, it is not necessary for a student to have taken a course with their teacher advisor because the goal of the teacher advisor is to get to know their students outside of the classroom.

However, The Campanile believes a close relationship would be easier to establish if students saw their teacher advisors on a more regular basis. With the current system, students who only see their advisors only through advisory sometimes go weeks with little interaction. Even though the surveys match a student and teacher advisor with similar interests, they don’t have much time to discuss those interests when they do not see each other regularly.

In the past, students were able to fill out a ballot and rank teacher advisors in order of preference. The Campanile acknowledges that with Paly’s growing size, both in teachers and students, such a system may no longer be possible. Instead, we suggest that a new system be created that finds a balance between the past and the present systems.

We propose hosting a meet and greet event where freshmen can meet and converse with potential teacher advisors. This personal interaction would be a better indicator of chemistry than a few generic questions. Then a section where students can rank their top three choices for advisors can be added to the survey. This could just be another factor for the algorithm assesses before creating the cohorts.

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