Many considerations are used when the small group action plan is designed each year. The counselor considers the program goals and the Mindsets and Behaviors identified to help accomplish the goals. Stakeholder feedback is very important to small group planning. Parents, administrators, staff members, and students are surveyed to identify which group topics will provide the maximum benefit to the greatest number of students. The grief group and both drop-in groups were incorporated into the action plan in 2016-2017 as a result of stakeholder feedback. During the year, outcome data is used to drive the development of other groups. For example, outcome data indicated a need for both the girls’ social skills group (discipline and counseling referral data) and the anger group (discipline referral data).
The counselor selects students for social and academic skill groups based on recommendation from staff members, outcome data, and parent requests. At the beginning of the school year, students complete a needs assessment indicating which groups they believe will benefit them. If six or more students request a topic, the counselor creates the group. College and career exploration groups are voluntary. The topic of the week is advertised in morning announcements and on announcement monitors in common areas. Groups requested by students that are socially/emotionally based or skill acquisition focused require parent/guardian permission for student participation.
During the planning stage for each group,the counselor identifies which Mindsets and Behaviors to target over the course of the group. The counselor considers the time necessary to adequately cover the Mindsets and Behaviors and develops the required number of lessons. At least two of the identified Mindsets and Behaviors are covered in each lesson and each Mindset and Behavior is covered at least twice during the group to provide students with multiple learning opportunities. Finally, a perception data collection tool is created to measure students’ growth in the guiding Mindsets and Behaviors.
Tier two intervention is a critical component of school counseling at GMS. It is impossible for the counselor to regularly meet one-on-one with students. Therefore, small groups must be effective and efficient in meeting students’ needs. The counselor analyzes outcome and perception data carefully to ensure every small group is providing the maximum benefit possible to students. When areas for improvement are identified, the counselor alters the lesson plans or creates new ones to make the group more beneficial for students. Additionally, data results are shared with stakeholders in many different ways to receive feedback and suggestions for improvement.