Sope Creek Small-Group Responsive Services Narrative:
Throughout 2015-16 school year, Sope Creek counselors conducted a variety of small groups for students experiencing difficulties in the following areas: new student adjustment, changing families, loss, social skills, academic achievement, behavior, self-esteem, and study and test taking skills. We believe strongly that consistently providing responsive small group services each year supports our school mission of success for all students, and our program philosophy of primary prevention.
Individual students were placed in these 48 small groups by parents, teachers, guardians, and by self-referral. Counselors worked closely with classroom teachers in scheduling groups so as not to compromise instructional time. Most groups met 4-8 weeks, followed a detailed curriculum which included specific ASCA mindsets and behaviors, and included measures of process, perception, and/or outcome data. The focus of each group was directly tied to student social/emotional, career and academic development needs.
In most cases, all Sope Creek counselors facilitated small groups in their assigned grade levels. The one exception was our “Closing the Gap” groups outlined in a subsequent section. All counselors facilitated a “Closing the Gap” academic achievement group for fifth grade students. This decision was made to accommodate our target group of at-risk students.
In the documents that follow in this section, we highlight one group, “Worry Busters”, from the 48 groups offered by Sope Creek counselors throughout 2015-16. We have selected this group in particular because it is reflective of the high quality of group responsive services offered throughout the year by all counselors. Students were selected for inclusion in the group based on self referral, parent request, and teacher recommendation. Pre and post perception data, Grade Point Averages, and Learning Skills/Behavior scores from report cards were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. The curriculum reflected specific ASCA mindsets and behaviors. The goal of the group was to support student achievement and social/emotional development. A Results Report is included later in this section, and it clearly indicates that students benefited from participation in the group.
“Worry Busters” included four second grade students and met weekly for seven 30 minute sessions from November 2015 until January 2016. It was offered to meet student needs as identified by students, parents, and teachers and was intended to support our school counseling goals of reducing serious discipline referrals, increasing student perception of personal happiness and decreasing teacher mediated disputes. Students who are able to manage their anxiety in a healthy way should be better able to manage peer relationships and be successful in the classroom. Using a small group format to present them with new coping skills also gave students the opportunity to feel less isolated and form support systems with other students and with the counselor.
The “Worry Busters” small group, formed in response to parent and teacher request, was successful and is worth offering again in following years. The students noted a significant decrease in their worry levels (36%) and an increase of 18% in their belief that they know how to deal with their worries. There was not a large impact on their grades, however the fact that the students were doing very well academically did not leave a lot of room for improvement. The small (3%) increase in grades was a good result. The slight (-.3%) decrease in their Learning Skills and Behavior marks is not ideal, but again these students began with mostly successful marks. The impact of their anxiety levels in class, while marked enough for teachers to request that it be addressed with a small group, was evidently not enough to impact their grading of these skills on the report cards. A more detailed look at data showed that the one student who showed a decrease in work completion also listed anxiety about school work on her post survey as one of her areas of worry. She was included, along with 9 other 2nd graders, in a Study Skills small group later in the year to assist with this concern.
This small group will continue to be offered in 2nd grade in future years. It has also been modified for 4th graders; the developmentally older version was offered later in the 2015-2016 school year.