Notes From Homeroom

To recap, this is the first year my school has built a thirty minute advisory period into its weekly schedule. But we’re five weeks into the school year and our advisory binder still has us untangling human knots, breaking ice between students who have known each other longer than I have known my wifeNods at Chris..

So we’re veering wildly off script but the product hasn’t been too ugly. The same kid who called this the most pointless class on her schedule at the start of the year just last week volunteered it as the highlight of her Wednesdays.

What we’ve been about the last few weeks:

  1. We voted on a name for advisory period. The finalists were: a) Purple People Eaters, b) Wombats, and c) Buhemoth, from which Buhemoth was selected somewhat, um, un-democratically. (For the record, my student didn’t intend the misspelling but we all took it with an anti-establishment post-spelling stance like, “Yeah, we know, and we don’t carecf. Wyld Stallyns..”)
  2. We brainstormed a logo/mascot for Buhemoth. The exploratory committee first suggested adjectives that best described (to them) the essence of Buhemoth. We decided on “fierce” and “terrifying” while rejecting “cuddly” and “sensual.” (I swear.) The logo status is “in process.”
  3. We researched designs for our cardboard regatta competitionRelegated to a footnote since I’m positive 99% of this blog’s audience knows what I’m talking about: you are allowed two rolls of duct tape and unlimited cardboard to make a boat that will conduct a student across a school pool. Prizes for fastest time, etc. with a few YouTube queries. Perhaps you’ve heard that Jon Pedersen (not the one you’re thinking about) and I won this competition at Ukiah High School, circa. 2000. This nation would not see the kind of intense, brother-waged-against-brother controversy that surrounded our boat design until Ohio, circa. 2004. Gonna be really difficult, in other words, to keep my mouth shut and let my students take full ownership of the design process.
  4. We ate doughnuts.

Next up:

  1. We will push our logo process along by viewing a montage of contemporary logos and classifying them as “Buhemoth” or “Not Buhemoth.”
  2. We will create a “Buhemoth code”, drawing on the Mafia’s recently revealed ten commandments for inspirationI mean, or not, if that’s a totally stupid idea..
  3. In general, we will stay as far away from the binder as possible.
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. FWIW, I shared the recommended activities of the advisory binder with my students — it was good for a laugh; and then we got on to the more serious needs of the advisory: building relationships that created trust so that when kids really needed support they had a place to go.

    And yeah, donuts help. As does a good name — here’s looking forward to more exploits of the Buhemoth.

  2. Hi Dan,

    We tried it too…about five-six years ago. Class was 40 minutes long. Kids knew each other very well…I was the only fish out of water.

    It latest just over a year. Quickly ditched the binder myself. Ate donuts, yep. Burritos too (great place across the street…I took orders, collected money, called in and ran over during my prep.) We split up the booty for kids who couldn’t pay (the team building thing in action).

    What Are You Listening To? became my favorite feature. Each week one kid brought in 3-4 tunes…played them to the class and explained their significance, etc.

    Some of my charges still write to me from college (ok they Facebook me..but you know…)

  3. My response to commentary’s been kind of a nonstarter lately. Sorry, everybody. Dunno how anybody gets anything done these days.

  4. I’m spending a lot of time thinking about advisories nowadays. We meet for 30 minutes every two weeks. The committee in charge of planning for advisories gives us about 5-10 minutes of activities, so far only consisting of surveying the students on what they’d like to do in advisories.

    I appreciate the ideas you (or y’all) have presented here. I plan on attending the advisory committee to share my concerns and bring ideas w/ which to improve them this week. Hopefully that’ll help. If not…well…I’m going off the reservation with their advisory plans. It’s supposed to be about building relationships, but so far that definitely has not been supported by its structure. I have seniors. They could tell on day 1 no staff member really had an idea of what advisories were about. Now I have to convince them that I’m okay, and I’m actually there to help.

    I’m bringing in donuts and coffee next time around.