Through our small group responsive services, we wanted to assist students that needed further support on the topics, mindsets and behaviors that we identified as necessary for further instruction through small groups. The small group setting was deemed the best way to support these students identified with specific needs to succeed to the best of their ability.
For the Organization Boot Camp group, we follow the book by Shawn Grime and refined it to work specifically for our students’ needs at Wadsworth Middle School with a focus on assignment books, lockers, books and notebooks, home study area and time management. Participants are selected by teacher referral.
For the Thrive stress management groups, group topics were based on major tenets of resiliency, like emotional management, growth mindset, healthy lifestyle and conflict resolution, etc. Participants were chosen based on attendance records and interviews with counselors or self-identified students that were having difficulty dealing with stress.
For the AIR group, students were selected if they were identified as having low socioeconomic status and failed one or more of their Ohio AIR tests the previous year, or were close to failing. With the addition of academic grades in classes, the list was narrowed down to our groups of seventeen and nineteen respectively. Each school counselor formed a group for her grade level. We then used our teacher, student and parent needs assessment to determine the topics for each meeting and worked closely with teachers to coordinate what was taught to students as systemic strategies in test taking, such as strategies for writing the extended responses in Language Arts for main ideas, supporting ideas, etc.
In reflecting back on the group, we felt that the single most important thing that we did was individually meet with students to explain their test scores to them, identify where they think they could improve this year, and make goals for this year. While going into the group, we hypothesized that a big issue was test anxiety around the tests being computer-based, but in working with the group and in doing individual interviews, we discovered that only a very small percentage of the students were anxious about the tests and a larger percentage of students had more of an attitude of not caring or not caring to persevere during the time of the test. But we also learned how easy it was to motivate most of the students to want to do well and to want to persevere during the very lengthy tests. Most of the students seemed motivated in knowing that someone was watching them and encouraging them and caring about how they did.
The AIR group results report was very helpful in future planning and assessing for achieving program mindsets and behaviors. The content was useful for these groups, but we did find that some topics were less useful than projected in the needs assessments, so we plan to adjust accordingly for future groups. We also reflected with each group meeting how to refine and better question to get more valid data from students. We use the perception data, formally and informally, to determine which lessons to continue. For example, as stated above, test anxiety was less of a problem for students than we expected, so we won’t spend an entire day on this topic.