Teacher Advisor Programme (TAP)

Nov 07, 2017

By Mr. Chris Coates

One of the new initiatives in the Secondary School is the introduction of a Teacher Advisory Programme (TAP) for all students from G7 to G12. This was one of the main reasons behind the change to a new daily schedule, which now allows for regular contact between students and their teacher advisor. It also provides us with the opportunity to deliver a personal, social, and emotional (PSE) education curriculum. We feel strongly at TIS that we are not just an academic institution; we are also committed to the development of strong character and life skills in our students. Many educators argue that the PSE education of our students is more important than their academic development, and it is universally agreed upon that the two areas are closely intertwined. In fact, research shows that if students are happy and healthy, their likelihood of academic success is significantly greater.

Programme Structure

Listed below are some of the basic structures of the Teacher Advisor Programme at TIS:

-all Secondary School students have been assigned an advisor

-students meet with their advisor for 15-minutes at the beginning of each day

-every Wednesday, students participate in a 40-minute lesson delivered by their advisor that focuses on the PSE curriculum

-the advisor is the first ‘point of contact’ at the school; this is the person that parents should go to first when they have a question or a concern

-the advisor is responsible for the overall well-being of their advisory students

PSE Curriculum

Since the needs of students vary from grade to grade, the personal, social, and emotional (PSE) curriculum has been developed to meet the unique needs of each cohort in the Secondary School. Although some topics are important for all students, it is obvious that the needs of G7 students, for example, are very different from those in G12. Each grade level has been assigned a Grade Leader who oversees the development of the PSE curriculum. The Grade Leaders are:

Grade 7 - Mr. Dominic Masters

Grade 8 - Ms. Candice Alm

Grade 9 - Ms. Caitlin Bass

Grade 10 - Ms. Tanya Brockbank

Grade 11 - Mr. Ryan Dunn

Grade 12 - Mr. Dan d’Entremont

The overall vision of the programme is guided by our Head of Student Services, Ms. Rovanna Bawden, who has significant experience and formal training as a school counsellor. She is supported on logistical matters by the Secondary School administration.

Topics are developed according to their unique qualities and needs. Most lessons are delivered in the small advisory groups while others are delivered to larger grade level and/or divisional audiences. Some of the topics covered include:

-Relationships (ie. peer, school, family, etc)

-Dealing with Conflict and Conflict Resolution


-Time Management and Organizational Skills

-Sex Education

-Healthy Life Choices


-Digital Citizenship

-Academic Honesty

-University Application Process

There are no assessments or grades assigned to students in the Teacher Advisor Programme, but if students hope to benefit from TAP they need to become fully engaged. Additionally, the advisor will write comments on every progress report in order to provide a balanced perspective on how each child is progressing and conducting him/herself at school.


The are many factors that support our decision to make time in our daily schedule for the personal, social, and emotional development of our students, and all of these reasons are backed by the most current educational research. There is an excellent article written by Tom Van Derark in 2015 that summarises much of the research based evidence that supports the positive impact of an effective advisory programme. The article is entitled The Role of Advisory in Personalising the Secondary Experience. Here are some of the key points:

“A strong advisory programme helps students get connected to one another in meaningful ways. Through class discussions, democratic decision-making, and other group activities, students can form bonds with one another and also learn more about themselves in relation to others.”

“A strong advisory system provides students meaningful relationships with adults. There is research to suggest that strong adult mentorship while in high school increases the likelihood of graduation and postsecondary success.”

“A strong advisor-advisee relationship means that the student has an advocate in the school. This means the student can feel supported, and if or when that student faces some personal or academic difficulty, rather than mentally or physically “checking out,” the student has someone to go to for help, feedback, and assistance.”

“Because of the student’s personal connections to an adult, the student can learn more about his/her academic and personal strengths and areas for improvement. A student’s own self-awareness is critical for success in college and beyond, and a good advisory program can help students become more self-aware through 1:1 discussions with their advisor and also time for those discussions as a peer group during the advisory time.”

“A strong advisory program has adults who ask students lots of questions, and adults that show genuine interest in listening to students’ responses, helps them create a vision for their futures, and then helps them enact strong goals to help them meet their goals for college, career, and life. An advisor’s job is to help students plan for that life through visioning, goal setting, asking questions, being an advocate, and simply being there for students.”


Our decision to introduce TAP is driven by the desire to provide greater pastoral care to our students. If students feel supported, both academically and emotionally,, they are likely to have a greater opportunity for success in school and life. I encourage parents to ask their children about their TAP experiences and persuade them to share the concepts and ideas that are being discussed in class. Support for this programme at home will only strengthen the positive impact on our students.


Brody Shulking, Sarah & Foot, Jack. Creating a Culture of Connectedness through Middle School Advisory Programmes (2009)

Johnson, Thomas E. Advising as Teaching: A High School Advisory Program at the Vehicle for Student Success (2009)

Klem, A., & Connell, J. Relationships matter: Linking teacher support to student engagement and achievement (2004)

Van Derark, Tom. The Role of Advisory in Personalising the Secondary Experience (2015)

Van Ryzin, M. Secondary School Advisors as Mentors and Secondary Attachment Figures (2010)


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