The 2016-17 small group action plan shows the six groups that Bruner students participated in. During my medical leave early in the school year, the school social worker facilitated four small groups that focused on teaching selected students more appropriate behaviors. Students participating in the self-control, making good choices, and social skills groups were referred by teachers and/or chosen due to their office discipline referrals. The group topics, which supported my counseling program goal to reduce office discipline referrals, were based on student needs and a teacher survey. The social worker collected her own data and shared her results with administration.
The remaining two groups on the action plan were designed to build leadership skills and self-confidence in selected 4th and 5th grade students. After reviewing Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) scores and collaborating with teachers, I became aware of several students who scored at the highest levels in reading but were not referred for the Gifted and Talented Program, were not engaging in more challenging coursework, and had not been referred to Bruner’s chapter of National Elementary Honor Society. Teachers also reported these students were quiet and did not volunteer to participate often. This information, along with my program vision of every student achieving their full potential, provided the foundation for the two leadership groups. The advisory council assisted with the selection of group members because they were familiar with the students and knew which students would benefit the most. I met with the selected students to assess their enthusiasm for participation and obtained parent permission. Based on teacher requests, I scheduled group sessions on Friday afternoons during each grade level’s RTI block of time.
I selected The 7 Habits of Happy Kids as the curriculum base for the leadership groups after reviewing my notes from a Leader in Me in-service I attended in 2015-16. The teachings of the habits, such as; setting goals, working well with others, balancing life, listening to others, and being responsible for actions, aligned well with ASCA’s Mindsets and Behaviors. Mindset 1, 2 and 5, along with Learning Strategy 7 and Social Skills 7, served as the basis while designing the lesson plans. I wrote the pre/posttest leadership questions to assess group members’ knowledge, attitude, and skills related to the 7 Habits and ASCA’s Mindsets/Behaviors.
The outcome and perception data revealed the 4th grade leadership group was effective in building leadership skills and self-confidence in group members. On the Leadership Group Posttest, 100% of group members rated themselves a 5 (highest) on the question “I know I can achieve success by using my abilities to the fullest”. All group members increased their reading grade by at least 3 percentage points from their 1st semester report card to their 2nd semester report card. Four of the group members applied for National Elementary Honor Society membership and were inducted. One group member was elected Honor Society president for 2017-18 and another was elected secretary. The fifth group member did not apply to Honor Society for he knew he would be transferring schools.
In the future, I will schedule the leadership group during the 1st semester when less school-wide activities are planned. The large number of school-wide activities during the 2nd semester of 2016-17 impacted the frequency of group meetings. Meeting with group members weekly during the 1st semester will help students gain the confidence needed to achieve their goals earlier in the school year and will allow for additional leadership groups to be scheduled based on student needs. Group sessions will continue to take place during RTI time so students do not miss core instruction, but a different day of the week will be chosen to avoid conflicts with school activities. I will continue to walk group members to/from their classrooms to allow for extra discussion time. An additional two sessions will be added, one for more rapport building prior to the lessons beginning and the other for more sharing of experiences after the lessons are completed. Homework assignments will be adjusted to provide me a more measureable activity to assess group members’ understanding of the topics. In addition to the leadership group, other small groups will be offered in the future based on student needs. After reviewing school data, the social worker and I will decide which students and topics to include, and who will facilitate each group.