Throughout the 2015 – 2016 school year, the Kersey Creek Elementary school counselors conducted a variety of small groups which provided additional support for students. The areas of concern were executive functioning skills, emotional regulation, GRIT, and self-esteem. Students were referred by teachers, parents, administrators, school counselors, and self-referral. The purpose of the small groups is to reinforce skills that are not content related but rather “non-cognitive” skills that are equally important for academic, social, and emotional success. The skills are outlined in the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success.
Small groups were led by the full time counselor due to her availability during the school year. Groups were coordinated according to time periods that would not conflict with instruction. Most groups were held during lunch and at the beginning of the school day. Groups consisted of a maximum of eight students, which met a maximum of six sessions. Each group lesson was a component of a curriculum created by the school counselor, which was accompanied by the means to assess process, perception, and outcome data to determine the efficaciousness of each group. A total of twelve groups met during the 2015 -2016 school year.
Social conflicts between female students are difficult issues to resolve. These conflicts can continue for long periods of time causing distraction from learning. From observation, these conflicts appear to begin prevalence in third grade. Therefore, the school counselor invites third grade girls to participate in small groups for a duration of four sessions. This group is called the Empowerment Girl Group. These groups are optional. However, most of the girls participate. The groups are held from September to May of the school year to ensure all third grade girls have the opportunity to be involved.
The sessions focus on positive self-concept, social conflict, and bullying (relational aggression). Having a positive self-concept is explained as the foundation to having appropriate coping skills to address negative social situations. The students are able to make connections between the information being taught and their own experiences. The purpose of the group aligns with the Kersey Creek Elementary School Counseling goal to decrease the number of students referred to office for aggressive and disruptive behaviors, which decreased from 22 students in 2014-2015 to 19 students in 2015-2016. On a point scale of 0-6, 0% of students received a score of ‘5’ or ‘6’ on the Empowerment Girl Group pre-test. On the post-test, 65% of students received a score of ‘5’ or ‘6’.
The excellent progress made by the students at Kersey Creek Elementary in the areas of achievement, behavior, and attendance is supported by the outcome data. It is evident that the support provided by small group interventions is beneficial to student success. The school counselors will continue to develop small group instruction according to the students’ needs and continue to obtain more detailed data to determine the academic, social, and emotional growth of individual students in the groups in addition to whole group results.