The Capitol Hill Counseling Program offered 15 different small-group counseling opportunities during the 16-17 school year. The small-group topics and age groups were chosen by the counselors based upon needs of those referred to counselors for support. The small group action plan reflects the specific students needs of students referred for anxiety, experiencing loss or family change, low academic performance, perceived apathy, work avoidance behaviors, social difficulties and delayed executive functioning skills. Group referrals were received from teachers, parents and students but many participants were also identified by counselors for additional group support after exploring behavior, attendance or academic data.
The Small Group Action Plan reflects the vision of the Capitol Hill CCP by providing additional instruction and support needed for targeted, struggling students to become well equipped high-achieving scholars who are prepared for rigorous high school courses and future challenges. Our school began teaching Mindfulness, the CASEL domains, and work by Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset in 2014-15 school wide. Social Emotional Learning Objectives are taught school wide and are a part of our School Comprehensive Improvement Plan. We are a Gifted/Talented Magnet and have many “twice exceptional” concrete thinkers who struggle with deep perfectionism which makes it hard for them to take risks or try in areas in which they are not already proficient. These struggles present in many ways which may look like apathy, defiance, low or under performance, or focus difficulties. The small group action plan reflects the need for additional support in these areas.
One of the groups facilitated by the elementary counselor was designed to address some of these difficulties. The SOAR Mindset Small curriculum was created to be developmentally appropriate for Grades 2-4. Lessons were gathered from various resources which are listed in the resource section of the attached SOAR Mindset Curriculum Overview. This group curriculum was designed to target our goals of developing the ASCA Mindsets of self-confidence in ability to succeed (M: 2) and growing a positive attitude toward work and learning (M: 6). We also chose activities that would help develop effective coping skills when faced with a problem (B: SMS 7), and foster the ability to overcome barriers to learning (B: SMS 6). Perception data for this group was gathered using a nine question pre/post survey, scored on a 5 point Likert scale. The Student Self Assessment Survey responses were totaled and averaged per student. We collected perception data from teacher surveys to reflect on group participants’ behavior changes in the classroom and that data was discussed with the teachers. Seven of the eight participants improved their perception of their abilities in school. The one student, who digressed throughout the 8 weeks, was clinically diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety shortly after the conclusion of the group.
Outcome data was taken from Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 SRI Lexile assessment scores with a yearly growth target of 100 Lexile points. Seven of the eight participants exceeded or far exceeded the growth target with an average growth of 297 points. One specific 2nd grade student moved 608 points through, as she states, persistence, “heavy lifting” and “growing her brain muscle”. The one group participant who did not meet the growth target, will be evaluated this fall for a learning disability in reading.
Our SOAR Mindset Group successfully met desired outcomes and will be offered again with some changes. I will add two more sessions to the curriculum to focus on activities building resiliency, positive self concept, and identification of current strengths and activities that require less writing. We hit the concepts of “Power of Yet” and “persistence” pretty hard but need to build the belief that they can overcome barriers, this will take some additional targeted learning and practiced strategies such as flexible thinking and organizational skills. The co-ed and multi grade groupings of participants will remain because of the positive unintended outcome of building previously unexplored friendships that have continued into this fall.