Since this is the largest component of the school counseling program that reaches the most students, in many ways it has the most impact on making a difference and helping students reach their maximum potential. Over the past twelve years, I have been diligently working on character education, bullying and respectful behavior in our school. It is duly noted when we plan and deliver intentional classroom instruction on specific issues, we see a positive impact and a decrease in negative behavior. This is evident by reviewing our longitudinal data collected since the 2004-2005 school year. Although we are encouraged by our results over the past several years, I am keenly aware that without our continual efforts we would not be able to sustain the same positive outcomes.
Effectiveness of Core Curriculum & Lessons and Implications for Next Year:
In evaluating the overall effectiveness of our core curriculum we can look at our end of the year outcome data. By the end of the 2015-2016 year, the physical aggression office referrals decreased by 36.8%. (Our goal was 30%.) The disrespect/defiance/disruption office referrals decreased by 27%. (Our goal was 20%.) This measures a significant change in the behavior of our students.
The three lessons highlighted in this application are a reflection of lessons in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and the Second Step Curriculum. All three lessons are directly linked to our vision, mission, goals and mindsets and behavior standards.
#1. Bullying Circle Lesson. We have made a systemic change in programming for our bullying behavior over the past four years. To maintain the progress we’ve made, I teach the Bullying Circle Lesson to all students in second through fifth grade. It’s a great way to teach skills and reinforce concepts from one year to the next. This is a very interactive lesson and it’s structured for all students to participate. The posttest data reveals 95%-100% of the students believe their knowledge and skills increased as a result of this lesson. The students report they can identify bullying roles and can demonstrate ways to handle a bullying situation.
Next Year: * It’s nice to see what’s working, but I’d like to dig a little deeper next year. Students may understand their role and can demonstrate skills for handling bullying, but how often are they using these skills. The majority of the students stand behind the “Defender Chair” in the activity, but I don’t have the data to know how many are actually “defending” in real life. I’d like to explore this further next year. * On the pretest, the third grade students scored the lowest across the board on knowledge and skills. Through class discussions it was clear that the majority of the students were experiencing many conflicts and weren’t hopeful it would improve. This data reinforces the need to continue with conflict resolution skills, and teach them the difference between conflict and bullying.
#2. Emotional Management (Second Step Curriculum) This was the first formal instruction our students have had on the emotional management concepts. Data revealed a big change in their perception of attitude, knowledge and skills from the pretest to the posttest. By the end of the lesson 95% to 100% of the fourth grade students believed they could manage their emotions, knew how strong emotions affect their bodies, and could demonstrate the calming down steps and belly breathing. Based on the students’ high energy and participation, along with their positive perception results, I believe this was a very effective lesson.
#3. Problem Solving Skills (Second Step Curriculum) Although teachers practice problem solving skills with students all of the time, this was a fairly new concept for them to use it as a coping skill. The pretest reveals our students already believe they are responsible for their own actions and can think of safe and respectful solutions. But the posttest data showed that 95% of the students increased their knowledge and skills about the problem solving steps and how to use them.
Next Year on Second Step Curriculum: * The Summative Knowledge Assessment that was given to students revealed that all of students scored the lowest on the topics of “assertive skills” and “empathy”. These topics will be a priority in our development of lessons next year. Although many of the topics in this curriculum would be considered coping skills, I didn’t use this language with students. Next year I would like to further develop and gather data on this topic.