It can be tempting to take on a new role at your school. Particularly when flattery is involved ("You'd be such a great advisor!"). How to resist?
But before you agree to help the new basket-weaving club get off the ground, you should weigh the pros and cons of becoming an advisor and make sure you know exactly what you're getting into. The guy from Glee may make it look easy, but hey, it ain't always that glamorous (and, we're hoping, not that much of a soap opera).
Reasons to Say Aye, Aye
You could get to know a new set of students
Often, because of your subject area or the grade level you teach, you find yourself interacting with a limited number of students every day. Okay, so it may not feel like a limited number, per se, but certainly you don't have a chance to interact with every student in your school on a regular basis. Advising a club or class could introduce you to a whole bunch more of them. Plus, you'll get to know them in a whole new, extracurricular-y sort of way that can lead to a totally different kind of interaction than you get in the regular classroom.
Now your ears are perking up, eh? Maybe we should have put this first. Lots of advisory positions offer a small stipend for your time. See if the club or class you're interested in advising offers any form of monetary compensation. And if not—hey, don't give up yet.
Even if advising a particular club won't earn you a definitive step on your career ladder, you never know—it may get you closer. For one thing, you're sure to develop or refine your skill set by taking on a new challenge. And for another, teachers who are more involved in a school are more likely to receive recognition for their efforts, from students and administrators alike. And that, in turn, could provide future leadership or professional development opportunities.
An opportunity to change things up
If you've been teaching Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus (or Kindergarten) for the past ten years, maybe it'll feel kinda nice to get the change of pace that'll inevitably fall into your lap when you find yourself interacting with the Odyssey of the Mind team.
The club will fold without you.
Many teachers have taken on advisory or coaching roles simply because no one else will. If the club in question is interesting to you, or if the students are compelling, or if you truly are the sole individual in a 70-mile radius who knows how to hold a hockey stick, you may very well want to help them out. Especially in this sort of situation, anything you provide as an advisor will likely be appreciated, so this can be a low-key way to enter the world of advising without a lot of pressure.
Itching to get on board? Great. But don't sign the dotted line just yet. This is a decision, after all, and you know better than not to consider both sides.
Reasons to Say Heck No
Yup, this is the biggie—the number one reason teachers decide not to become advisors for a club or class. If you're on the fence about an advisory position because you're not sure you have enough time for it, talk to the club's former advisor and see what kind of time commitment is necessary. If the club is new, find someone who has advised a similar group in its infancy.
We're looking out for you here. It's important to be realistic about how much time you have to give and to say no, without guilt, if it's simply not doable.
That's right, it goes both ways. Some advisory positions don't offer any compensation despite requiring a great deal of time and energy, and you might not be in a position to offer up any more of your time for free.
The club will fold without you.
What's with all these double-edged swords? Is this a trick?
Here's the thing. It's the guilt, the guilt! Even the potential for guilt, in this case. For realz, it's hard to say no when you realize that students will have no club if they can't find an advisor.
But you may want to ask yourself: why can't they find an advisor? Is there a good reason no one has agreed to advise the club? Or have the club members maybe not actually exhausted all their options, the pipsqueaks? It's possible that you are only the second or third teacher they've tried, or that others have turned them down because the club has been problematic in the past or there simply isn't a good plan in place to make the club sustainable.
Ultimately, the decision to advise a club or class is yours. And now that you've thought it through almost to completion, we'll leave you with a few bonus articles to keep the wheels a-turning.
Wheels all turned? Great. First step, making your decision, next step, turning it into a hit primetime sitcom.
Watch out, Gleeks, we're coming for you.