Determining small groups to be offered each school year is based on a combination of collaboration with teachers and administration, as well as our school's attendance, academic and behavior data. In addition, we look at counseling concerns from the previous school year. Small groups offered typically include such things as friendship, confidence, self-management, and anger management. Recommendations for small groups come from teachers, administration and parents. Students for the confidence, anger management, and friendship small groups students were chosen based on a needs assessment from teachers. Although these groups do not address program goals, they were ultimately meeting the needs of our student population and based on perception data outcomes were positive. The self-regulation small group was formed as an intervention to meet our behavior goal for the year. Students were chosen for this group based on the number of physical behavior incidents they had for the first 9 weeks of school. Students with ten or more were invited to participate. Six participated and the others received different levels of intervention.
Scheduling small groups is the most challenging aspect of our program. Our goal is to avoid compromising instructional time, while still meeting the needs of our students. Therefore, we try to be creative in the times small groups meet. Some groups meet during lunch, some during early morning, and others when students are in enrichment programs.
The lessons included in this section focused on the small group of "Behavior Matters," which was a small group for self-regulation in kindergarten. When students miss instructional time due to behavior and resulting referrals to administration, they fall behind academically. Even though the baseline data compilation did not end until the end of first quarter, the small groups began in September with students who seemed to be having the greatest difficulties with altercations and confrontations with other students. It was the decision of the kindergarten teachers and the counselor to continue small group interventions for the same group throughout the school year to provide a consistent reinforcement and support the classroom guidance curriculum. Another strategy was daily check-ins by the teachers and/or counselors with these students to help reinforce the concepts covered in the small group sessions and increase accountability for actions. This was done based on the realization that many of these students do not have the support away from school to stay on track and they need this positive interaction to maintain and stay on track.
The content of all small groups was driven by ASCA mindsets and behaviors and can be seen in the activities themselves. Many lessons for the small group “Behavior Matters” used Julia Cook’s books and curriculum materials. These lessons directly link to the ASCA mindsets and behaviors. The mindsets and behaviors were strategically chosen for this group because they correlate with self-control and behavior which are the areas we needed to target in order to reduce the behavior referrals in kindergarten. Mindsets and Behaviors were also linked to perception data by the pre and post test questions throughout the lessons.
The data from the results report for “Behavior Matters” were positive in regards to perception data as well as outcome data. This group, along with kindergarten core curriculum, and other interventions helped achieve our behavior goal of reducing altercation and confrontation referrals not only by 20% but by 89%. Perception data also showed us that students were positively affected by the skills and strategies taught throughout the group. Other data collected at the end of the group showed us that students reduced their number of behavior incidences from the first quarter to the fourth quarter by a significant amount. Throughout the three quarters student one reduced by 73%, student two reduced by 77%, student three reduced by 55%, student four reduced by 64%, student five reduced by 98%, and student six reduced by 80%.
Based on results, this group was beneficial; however, in the future we would gather more detailed perception data to measure their attitude of being in the group before and after; their knowledge of the vocabulary taught before and after; and their skills related to self-regulation before and after. After reflecting on all small groups, the delivery of perception data for our small groups was a weakness and will be stronger and more detailed in the future. The use of technology and collaboration with our instructional coach to form developmentally appropriate assessments will help us in this area.