Overcome Implicit Bias

TaRael Kee, school counselor at Collinsville High School in Collinsville, IL, explains that advisers must open the lines of communication with students and colleagues of all backgrounds to overcome cultural differences. Do this by:

  • Developing a willingness to listen for understanding
  • Recognizing and putting aside preconceptions and biases
  • Engaging students in conversations about their home cultures and belief systems
  • Pursuing enrichment opportunities such as book studies and podcasts to grow understanding

Support Changemakers

Nick Boedicker and Reilly Brooks from the nonprofit Ashoka share six ways advisers can look beyond traditional student leadership positions and support all student changemakers:

  1. Look beyond volunteering and service hours.
  2. Foster a collective purpose.
  3. Cultivate empathy.
  4. Model changemaking through storytelling.
  5. Create space to let everyone lead.
  6. Promote peer activation models.

Fight the Mental Health Stigma

Leina McLaughlin, a junior at Sherwood High School in Sherwood, OR, shares her personal journey—speaking openly about mental wellness and her work with the nonprofit program Work2BeWell. A few ways student leaders can address the issue of mental health in their school include:

  • Working with school counselors who have knowledge about mental health issues and have access to a wide range of resources
  • Holding a mental health fair with tables and presentations to address issues ranging from meditation and mindfulness to depression and anxiety
  • Establishing a mental health week during which each day focuses on a key issue related to mental health
  • Inviting a qualified expert for an assembly specifically focused on mental health issues related to young people
  • Devoting efforts to educating adults to identify the issues

Ignite Student Passions

Anthony Rogers—visual arts teacher, Associated Student Body adviser, and yearbook adviser at Palm Middle School in Moreno Valley, CA—suggests advisers must first get students to lower their shields before they can pursue what they’re passionate about. Here’s how:

  • Laughing at yourself
  • Taking time to listen
  • Avoiding superiority

Advisers can then help students discover their passions by:

  • Giving students plenty of opportunities to fail and persevere
  • Encouraging students to seize the moment
  • Providing feedback and time for reflection