Throughout the year, we addressed our academic counseling goals in several ways. Specifically, in January 2016, sixth grade students completed a “New Year, New Me” Goal Setting and Goal Reflection activity during Advisory class. The learning objective was for students to reflect on their S.M.A.R.T. Goals they created in the Fall of 2015, which aligned with the Behavior: Learning Strategies/7: Identify long- and short-term academic, career and social/emotional goals. Students took a pretest to assess their knowledge of goal setting, the importance of setting goals, and how to work toward their goals. Students viewed a powerpoint presentation and video, then participated in a guided discussion. The survey results reported positive changes in students’ attitudes and strategies towards goal setting. Based on this data and positive feedback from students that was collected through pre and post assessment data, it is evident that students understood the value and importance of reflecting on their S.M.A.R.T. goals, receiving help and feedback, and monitoring their progress toward goals. This proved to be an effective lesson that will be utilized in the future.
To address our counseling goal of reducing behavior referrals, counselors designed a Girls’ Summit to address the social and emotional needs of 29 of our seventh grade female students. Participants were chosen based on the number of meditations required to address peer conflicts, the number of behavioral referrals, the number of physical altercations, poor self-image, and unhealthy relationships. Seventy-nine percent of students received a behavioral referral, while 52 percent of participants received one or more suspensions. The summit was designed to empower middle school girls by focusing on three main topics: effects of bullying, self-esteem, and healthy relationships. These topics were addressed using activities such as role play of bullying scenarios, group discussions, vision boards, identification of images perceived as beautiful, and discussion of media impact on self-esteem. The seventh grade counseling team reported a 48% decrease in the number of behavior referrals after the Girls’ Summit event. This data demonstrates that the Girls’ Summit was an effective intervention for the participants.
College and career readiness lessons were presented to all students, which aligns with our counseling goal as well as our state and school district focus, recommending that every student create a yearly Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP). As a result, college and career readiness lessons were created to help students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to develop post-secondary goals. In the fall, all students completed goal setting activities and a series of six lessons entitled “Roadmap to Success”. The lessons focused on time management, organization and study skills, grade point average calculation, seven habits of highly effective teens, and self-motivation strategies. In the Spring, the lessons entitled “My Future, My Way” were introduced in which students learned about post secondary options and job opportunities related to their interests. In addition, students received a workbook that provided information on potential financial aid opportunities available to pay for their education. After reviewing the post test responses, we found that 97% of our students understood that it’s never too early to start considering post-secondary options. For the future, while we did have the booklet in English and Spanish, it may be helpful to obtain the workbook in multiple languages so our parents are able to be involved in this process. It was evident that this lesson was beneficial for all students; however, the eighth grade students indicated there was a need to know this information as early as sixth grade.