One program goal was: For the Spring of 2016, students who participated in the anger management group will decrease their office referrals by 50%. This goal was created by the counselors along with the administrators and school advisory council as a result of analyzing office referrals. It was noticed that the same students were repeatedly being seen in the office for offenses that were done when they were in an angry state of mind. Of these students, there were 5 second grade students and 4 fifth grade students. These students were placed into two groups, the second grade group was led by Jenni Briggs who was the second grade counselor. The fifth grade group was led by Michelle Stevens who was the fifth grade counselor. Nine students were included in the groups. The lessons plans outlined are the second grade small group; however, the data was taken from both 2nd and 5th grade.
The groups consisted of 6 sessions in the spring. The topics included triggers, strategies such as yoga, relaxation, and deep breathing and taking responsibility for their actions. Perception data was collected by a pre/post survey indicating their “triggers” and strategies that students currently were using. Students were asked to rate themselves on possible “triggers” using a 1 – 5 scale (one being not a trigger to five being a severe trigger). Group participants decreased their percentage of triggers they rated a four or five from 24% to 11% equaling a 54% decrease. Students rated their use of positive behavior strategies on the pre/post survey showing an increase of their use of strategies from 29% to 100% equaling a 71% increase. Group participants were able to identify, on average 1 strategy they could use to help them calm down prior to the group. After the group, participants were able to identify, on average, 3 strategies they could use to help them calm down. Therefore, student knowledge of strategies increased by 67%.
Outcome data was gathered from office referrals and report card grades. Prior to the group, participants had a total of 25 office referrals. After the group, participants had a total of 1 office referral. Therefore, there was a 96% decrease in office referrals. Out of the group participants, 22% of the students showed an improvement of one letter grade on their report card conduct grades.
The students showed positive behavioral changes during and after the group sessions. The counselors believe the students enjoyed coming to group and felt they had a supportive adult in the building to whom they could go when needed. They were able to identify more strategies they felt comfortable using after the group. Even though the goal was not met on the report card conduct grades, the counselors believe the students’ behaviors improved based on the huge reduction in office referrals as the year progressed.
Due to the positive results of this program, the counselors will continue to offer it to students that have a high rate of office referrals. A component which addresses the day-to-day classroom behavior may need to be added. It might be in the form of a daily behavior contract that students bring to group with them on a weekly basis. That way the counselors would receive specific feedback from the classroom teachers as to which behaviors need attention.
In addition to the anger management group, multiple other groups were conducted during the 2015-16 school year. These group topics as well as group members were chosen in a variety of ways: referrals, grades, attendance and test scores. As permission is a requirement for small group participation at our school, permission letters were sent to all students that were invited to join a small group. The letter explained to parents the focus and goals of the small group. The counselors worked diligently with teachers to schedule the small group so there is a small of amount of instructional time being lost by the participants. Data was collected to ensure the effectiveness of the small groups and changes were made to ensure the success of future groups. Data collections for each group includes pre/post surveys, attendance reports, grades, and office referrals. The data allows the counselors to make informed decisions for the future. The counselors run their groups based on their grade level assignments.