The 2016/2017 school year was a year of learning for the Livingston Middle School school counselors. This was the first year that all classroom guidance lessons were chosen using intentionally selected mindsets and behaviors. This was the first year that school counselors used Google forms to administer the pre and post tests for each lesson, which was an effective and efficient way to collect data and we were able to review results quickly. Since we reviewed the data the same day, we noticed immediately the areas that needed more emphasis and were able to make the change for the next class lesson. There were times that the internet went down and we had to resort to a paper and pencil option, which is something that we kept in mind after the first incident. Lessons were adjusted a few times during the 2016/2017 school year, but the mindsets and behaviors that were intentionally selected for each grade level were always the focus. An example is when our principal and district office inquired about students feeling scared to come to school due the presidential election results. Some students expressed they were very nervous about the outcome of the presidential election and were lacking coping skills. These concerns influenced our decision to change the planned lesson to the “Disagreeing Respectfully” lesson. The data collected on this lesson showed an increase in empathy and supportive relationships.
As described in our vision statement, it is important for all students to benefit from a comprehensive school counseling program and so we selected one lesson from each grade level to highlight. The core curriculum guidance lessons we selected to review include one lesson from each of the three domains: academic, personal/social and career as is set forth in our school counseling mission statement.
The sixth grade guidance lesson, Being Assertive, was selected from the personal/social domain and aligned with our district, school and school counseling vision of being respectful individuals. Students learned the skills necessary to become effective communicators and demonstrate empathy. These skills allowed students to begin to solve problems in an efficient manner on their own. After reviewing the results from this lesson, we noticed that students’ behaviors improved and the detention rate decreased. We plan to share a similar lesson with all of our students next year.
The seventh grade guidance lesson, Calculating Grade Point Average, was selected from the academic domain and directly connected to our district, school and school counseling vision to build a community of learners. Students learned the importance of self-motivation and self-direction as well as the value of short and long term goals. After reviewing the results from this lesson, we noticed that students’ awareness of their grade point average increased as did their actual grade point average. We plan to complete this lesson earlier in the school year. In fact, this lesson has already taken place for our current seventh grade students.
The eighth grade guidance lesson, The Value of A High School and College Education, was selected from the career domain and related to our district, school and school counseling mission to provide all students an equitable opportunity to grow academically and personally. Students’ awareness of the value of postsecondary education and lifelong learning increased. After reviewing the results of this lesson, we realized a need to continue promoting college and career awareness, exploration and readiness. In fact, we intend to have our California Junior Scholarship Federation students, Advanced Via Individual Determination students and University of California Scholars play an important role in promoting a college and career activities and information. We plan to continue collaborating with our staff on ways to do this and, perhaps decide on a college tee-shirt day.