Advisor's Responsibilities

Student council is as successful as the advisor wishes it to be. It takes someone with a great deal of patience, enthusiasm and love of young people to advise, coach, inspire, communicate and, in general, to keep the council moving successfully forward. The advisor develops leadership in the student council members through the delegation of duties and responsibilities. The advisor walks a delicate line between representing students and representing administration. Keeping one’s balance depends upon using common sense, communicating with those concerned and maintaining a knowledge of the policies governing the student council.

As a student council advisor:

  • Ask for and assist in developing a job description for the position. This will help you and others to look at the role, objectives, and expectations of the advisor and the activity.
  • Establish communication lines and methods to be as inclusive as possible - the more information that is commonly available, the less hassle when decision-making time occurs.
  • Provide orientation for officers and members:
    - Workshop, planning session to develop methods of operation and skills training.
    - Set goals and activities for the year.
    - Become involved in state sponsored activities.
  • Establish a periodic evaluation.
  • Maintain your public relations link with the staff and administration.
  • Evaluate what you have done at the end of the year and put it into written form for next year’s Council.

Being an ADVISOR means being a resource person, a leader, a good example, a unique representative of students to faculty and administration. It is advising and coordinating all phases of the council program while making it a learning experience for those involved and an integral part in the school program. ADVISORSHIP is one of the toughest challenges in the school program today. If successful, it can be one of the most beneficial and personally rewarding experiences.


TIPS FOR ADVISORS:

Student Council Procedures:

  • Have a working constitution (*)
  • Have an agenda for every contact with kids 
  • Take notes or minutes
  • Use forms-project planning/evaluations/reports (*)
  • Outline roles of members/officers (*)
  • Use committees (*)
  • Directory
  • Calendar
  • Member handbook
  • Work-on members
  • Officer mailboxes
  • Filing system

Personal management:

  • Train students in procedures/process/leadership skills (*)
  • Manage stress level
  • Lead by example
  • Networking (*)
  • Have fun
  • Office space
  • Have supportive/understanding personal relationships

Public Relations:

  • Administration: school board, superintendent, principal, staff leadership
  • Community: media, civic involvement
  • Student Body: paper, announcements, etc.
  • Parents: election letter, thank you notes, newsletters
  • Staff: bulletin, teacher appreciation

(*) Areas where TASC can provide direct assistance.


GETTING ALONG...

Student councils have to “get along” to be effective. All the great ideas for projects, activities, happenings, and events must have the support of the principal, faculty, and staff to be considered potential successes. An effective student council will consider various approaches to insure the support of these crucial people.

Getting along with the principal

The administration is a group of people who are legally responsible for the school program. If mistakes are made, the administration—and, more specifically, the principal—must bear the brunt of the criticism. Because of the principal’s authority, the council-principal relationship is crucial.

The principal cannot delegate any of his or her responsibility, but he or she can delegate authority. It is proper for the principal to delegate certain powers to the student council. The student council has no power unless the principal delegates it. When a student council fails to understand its areas of authority, a breakdown of communications between the principal and the student council may result. A student council needs to know the levels in which it may operate. This information must come from the principal of the individual school. The student council must keep the principal informed at all times about its actions, because the principal maintains the final approval and authority for all projects. Ideas to gain administrative support and to better relations with the principal and administration include:

  1. Hold weekly meetings with the administrative team, particularly the principal, to inform them of the student council’s activities, to discuss student council business and administrative policies. These meetings could be held at lunch to encourage informality. 
  2. Distribute minutes of student council meetings to all members of the administrative team. 
  3. Invite administrators to all business meetings and give them opportunities to discuss programs they administer with the student council.
  4. Recognize the principal as a resource person, who has a wide perspective on education and knowledge of the particular school.
  5. Do not be afraid to take a stand and speak for something. The principal has final authority; presenting sound reasons may influence the final decision. 
  6. Try asking a principal, “What can we do for you?” for a change, instead of “Can we do this?”

Getting Along with the Faculty

The faculty is a very important support group for a student council. A strong working relationship with the faculty is a definite advantage. Student council members must continuously strive through their consideration and their activities to emphasize a student council’s place in the school and to insure faculty support. Ideas to encourage faculty support:

  1. Issue an open invitation to all teachers for student council meetings. 
  2. Conduct a teacher appreciation day. 
  3. Start a Teacher Pal project. Have each student council member choose one or two teachers as their pals. On holidays, during finals week, or for just a regular school day, each student council member gives their secret pals something—a cake, a red grading pen, a little candy, a birthday or greeting card, or just a small personal note. The teachers are not told who their teacher pals are until the end of the year when there is some sort of get-together to reveal the teacher pals. 
  4. Issue a sincere welcome back to all teachers at the beginning faculty meeting before school opens. Perhaps some sort of welcome back gift package could be arranged. 
  5. Request five or ten minutes at monthly faculty meetings. Ask the teachers if they have any suggestions or ideas. Be prepared to answer questions about council activities. 
  6. Provide student aides for teachers a few days before school begins. 
  7. Invite teachers (by special, personal invitation) to all activities sponsored by the student council (dances, Homecoming, other special events).

Getting Along with the Staff

The support personnel in the school are often affected by the activities of the student council. Their help and cooperation enables projects and activities sponsored by the council to run more smoothly and efficiently. Dances, special activities after school hours, and Saturday functions such as district conventions require the aid of custodial and cafeteria personnel. Student council members should treat them with the same respect that they would accord anyone who helps and cooperates to make a project or activity a success. Ideas for positive relations with support personnel:

  1. Always give prior notice of any activities requiring their services. 
  2. Write thank you notes to all support personnel who helped at the conclusion of projects or after an activity. 
  3. Have a morning brunch (pastries and coffee) prepared for them before school or special desserts for lunch.
  4. Do not leave all cleaning up to the custodians. See that after an activity, student council members help clean up. If any special decorations were put up, these should be taken down by council members themselves.

Memo to Advisors: 1972

A hundred years from now it will not matter what your bank account was,
The sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove,
But the world may be a little different because you were important in
The life of someone young . . .