An Intentional Pause: Inclusive Downtime in Advisory and Homeroom

An Intentional Pause: Inclusive Downtime in Advisory and Homeroom

In our students’ over-scheduled and busy days, there is a critical need for educators to offer windows where students can pause, catch their breath, and experience a sense of calm and belonging. Advisory Programs can provide a wonderful place for this kind of pause.


From our work as advisors, advisory coordinators, and having worked with schools worldwide, we recommend that about one-third of the time in Advisory in middle and high schools is protected for intentional and inclusive downtime.


Sometimes a whole Advisory period could be dedicated to downtime, while other times, it might just be the first or last 10-15 mins of the period. It’s essential to explain the idea and rationale for downtime to your advisees and clarify with your fellow advisors what does and what doesn’t count as downtime. This consistency across advisories is crucial.


For many schools, snacks can be a key element of Advisory generally, and downtime specifically. IFSEL believes that sharing (and perhaps even preparing) food together brings a sense of connection and belonging. This is harder if educators have had to navigate social distancing.

“Downtime in Advisory might feel a bit like a big family meal - with the focus on each other and ourselves, but without any structured lessons or activities.”


Why

Both in and outside of school, our students’ schedules are getting busier and busier. For many students, this busy-ness can be exciting, tiring, and overwhelming. In the schools we work with, we often hear students ask for more time to connect, catch their breath, and sometimes just ‘be.’ Research backs up this issue.


One way to think of downtime is as space for ‘free-form attention.’ University of Southern California researcher, Helen Immordino-Yang, has written extensively on education and the adolescent brain. She argues that “Free-form attention is extremely important for being able to make sense of what you’re doing. This network seems to be... activated when you’re resting and just daydreaming, thinking about your memories, imagining things that don’t exist here and now. You need both modes of attention (free-form and on-task) in order to function in the world” (Immordino- Yang, 2018).

59% of high schoolers felt that a lack of sleep is a major stressor in their lives, while 52% felt that a lack of time to play, relax or be with family or friends was a similar major stressor. - Challenge Success

Ideas to shape and give meaning to downtime:

Self-Focused

  • Origami
  • Coloring Books
  • Guided Meditation
  • Go noodle together
  • Mazes
  • Reading
  • Puzzle books 

Social 

  • Have and share food
  • Book club, kids books, share favorites, or silent reading
  • Play music together, share playlists
  • Tell jokes
  • Talk about wild outdoor experiences
  • Rest, relax and talk with structured questions
  • Student-led check-ins 

Games
(advisor or student led)

  • Improv
  • Charades
  • Guided Meditation
  • Gratitude Board
  • Jenga
  • Word Puzzles
  • Legos
  • Trivia Games
  • "Would You Rather?"

Action / Movement

  • Light service work like clean the classroom or wash desks
  • Be Outside
  • Go for a walk together
  • Stretch breaks
  • Yoga
  • Dance parties
  • Mindful movements

Including downtime in your Advisory Program requires agreement and buy-in from all advisors. Here are some questions to discuss:
  • What purpose would downtime in Advisory serve for our student population?
  • Is downtime tech-free? IFSEL recommends that it is, so that the focus is on
    ourselves and each other.
  • Can downtime be used as a study hall? How to protect downtime when students
    ask for time to study?
  • What to do if advisees ask for downtime when you have a grade-wide Advisory
    activity already planned?
Resources
  1. We Connect Cards
  2. Table Topics
  3. Whatchamadrawit
  4. Apples to Apples
  5. Climer Cards

Upcoming Professional Development Events

IFSEL Institutes and Workshops provide opportunities for K-12 educators, administrators and counselors to experience a range of SEL activities, and also to understand the research and rationale that underpin them. 

Catalyzed by SEL

hosted at

Practical and High-Impact Approaches to Integrating SEL into the Subject Curriculum in Every Classroom.


This highly practical, two-session online course will provide 3rd - 12th Grade teachers and administrators with myriad strategies for embedding SEL directly within any learning moment.


The Joy of Advising (Course 1)

hosted at

Inspiring Approaches and Practical Tools for Middle and High School Advisors and Homeroom Teachers


This inspiring course offers opportunities to build and re-energize Advisor tools and approaches. Learn and practice 'low-prep, high-impact' practices that nurture advisory connection in-person and through Distance Learning.


Paving a Path for All to Thrive

hosted at

SEL Teaching Practices, Skills, and Positive Communication for the Elementary Grades K - 6


This course provides effective lesson sequences and simple, profound practices. Learn a framework of common language to build emotional intelligence, positive communication, and restorative practices.


Nurturing a Whole Community Approach to SEL

hosted at

Explore the ‘what, why and how’ of IFSEL’s Whole-Community Framework for SEL.


This creative and experiential online course offers educators, administrators, counselors and advisors the opportunity to learn how to build classroom practices and school-wide systems that nurture the social and emotional health of all members of the community.


The Joy of Advising (Course 2)

hosted at

Deepening Approaches and Practical Tools for Middle and High School Advisors and Homeroom Teachers


This experiential course, as a follow-up to Joy of Advising 1, extends and deepens approaches and practices that empower high quality advising in Middle and High Schools.


Check-In

hosted at

A simple, profound, and essential practice to maintain balance and guide decision-making for all ages (K-12th Grade)


IFSEL’s approach to Check-In offers a simple and profound practice that activates self- and group-awareness and is the foundation for all social and emotional learning.


Introduction to an SEL-Rooted Advisory Program for New Advisors

hosted at

Practical strategies and approaches for being an authentic and accessible Advisor within an SEL-Rooted Advisory Program


This experiential workshop is designed for new advisors at schools that already have worked with IFSEL to build and deepen their advisory program.

SEL Induction for New Faculty and Staff

hosted at

An ideal way for all current and prior IFSEL schools to welcome new faculty to this work.


This workshop will introduce IFSEL’s Whole-Community Approach to SEL through a series of meaningful and creative experiences.

When a Sprint Becomes a Marathon

hosted at

Discover new tools and lessons to re-energize and reconnect with yourself, your classes and your students


This 90-minute workshop will help teachers rediscover a sense of purpose, clarity, and calm for the coming months. (Grades K-5 or 6th-12th)

Leading Through Turbulent Times

hosted at

A practical, renewing workshop to support the critical, life-affirming work of passionate school administrators.


This 2-hour workshop supports the critical, life-affirming work of passionate school administrators, and provides a sense of connection and shared humanity.

See All Professional Development Events

Upcoming Professional Development Events

IFSEL Institutes and Workshops provide opportunities for K-12 educators, administrators and counselors to experience a range of SEL activities, and also to understand the research and rationale that underpin them. 

Grades 3-12

Catalyzed by SEL

hosted at

Practical and High-Impact Approaches to Integrating SEL into the Subject Curriculum in Every Classroom.


This highly practical, two-session online course will provide 3rd - 12th Grade teachers and administrators with myriad strategies for embedding SEL directly within any learning moment.


Grades 5-12

The Joy of Advising (Course 1)

hosted at

Inspiring Approaches and Practical Tools for Middle and High School Advisors and Homeroom Teachers


This inspiring course offers opportunities to build and re-energize Advisor tools and approaches. Learn and practice 'low-prep, high-impact' practices that nurture advisory connection in-person and through Distance Learning.


Grades K-6

Paving a Path for All to Thrive

hosted at

SEL Teaching Practices, Skills, and Positive Communication for the Elementary Grades K - 6

Four-Session Online Course Starting June 16th, or August 4th


This course provides effective lesson sequences and simple, profound practices. Learn a framework of common language to build emotional intelligence, positive communication, and restorative practices.


Grades K-12

Nurturing a Whole Community Approach to SEL

hosted at

Explore the ‘what, why and how’ of IFSEL’s Whole-Community Framework for SEL.

Five-Session Online Course Starting June 14th, July 26th, or August 2nd


This creative and experiential online course offers educators, administrators, counselors and advisors the opportunity to learn how to build classroom practices and school-wide systems that nurture the social and emotional health of all members of the community.


Grades 5-12

The Joy of Advising (Course 2)

hosted at

Deepening Approaches and Practical Tools for Middle and High School Advisors and Homeroom Teachers


This experiential course, as a follow-up to Joy of Advising 1, extends and deepens approaches and practices that empower high quality advising in Middle and High Schools.


Grades K-12

Check-In

hosted at

A simple, profound, and essential practice to maintain balance and guide decision-making for all ages (K-12th Grade)


IFSEL’s approach to Check-In offers a simple and profound practice that activates self- and group-awareness and is the foundation for all social and emotional learning.


Grades 5-12

Introduction to an SEL-Rooted Advisory Program for New Advisors

hosted at

Practical strategies and approaches for being an authentic and accessible Advisor within an SEL-Rooted Advisory Program


This experiential workshop is designed for new advisors at schools that already have worked with IFSEL to build and deepen their advisory program.


Grades K-12

SEL Induction for New Faculty and Staff

hosted at

An ideal way for all current and prior IFSEL schools to welcome new faculty to this work.


This workshop will introduce IFSEL’s Whole-Community Approach to SEL through a series of meaningful and creative experiences.


Grades K-12

When a Sprint Becomes a Marathon

hosted at

Discover new tools and lessons to re-energize and reconnect with yourself, your classes and your students


This 90-minute workshop will help teachers rediscover a sense of purpose, clarity, and calm for the coming months. (Grades K-5 or 6th-12th)


Leaders

Leading Through Turbulent Times

hosted at

A practical, renewing workshop to support the critical, life-affirming work of passionate school administrators.


This 2-hour workshop supports the critical, life-affirming work of passionate school administrators, and provides a sense of connection and shared humanity.


See All Professional Development Events

Sign up for news and updates

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.