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Lanier Middle School (2018)

Sugar Hill, GA

Small Group Responsive Services

REVISED: Unfortunately, the counselors that had been at LMS for many years prior to us did not offer many small groups. Therefore, there was little time available for small groups. Mrs. Hyman expressed frustration with this, but knew over time, we would make a change. Knowing small group intervention is a highly effective strategy for changing student behavior, we prioritized this goal.

LMS has weekly Advisement meetings where students meet with one teacher in small group for discussion about school motivation. Since our principal asked us to prioritize attendance, we requested to have students with excessive absences in our advisement groups. Ms. Auslin and Mrs. Diaz also made a commitment to having at least one other small group during the year. Scheduling attempts were met with teacher resistance. However, students we selected for our small groups were students in great need of academic and behavioral support. We used the rationale with teachers that many of these students were in danger of failing or failing with the current services they were receiving. We told teachers that groups would be another layer of support. In order to respect academic instruction, we pulled students during lunch periods for our respective grade levels. This proved to be difficult, because students in group had staggering lunch times. We had to be flexible when teachers didn’t want to release students early or have them come back late because of activities in the classroom. We shared concern and frustration with our administration towards the end of the year. We presented our data evidencing improvement for almost every student participating in our groups. Because of these discussions, our administration has granted us protected time this year to conduct groups during a new half-hour enrichment period in the school's schedule.

Our attached Small Group Action Plan reflects the focus on attendance data and the school improvement goals embedded in greater achievement. Because the attendance small groups spanned the entire school year, we believe almost all of the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors were covered in these small groups. However, the action plan highlights mindsets and behaviors covered in respect to regular attendance at school (i.e. responsibility, setting short term and long term goals, belonging in the school, etc.). The mindsets and behaviors that drove Ms. Auslin and Mrs. Diaz’s groups aided both counselors in selecting programming and perception surveys they utilized in their groups.

Mrs. Diaz’s resilience group lesson plans are attached. She chose the “Why Try?” resilience program designed by Christian Moore (2001) to address the mindsets and behaviors in which her students needed intervention. “Why Try?” is a research and evidence-based program designed for youth at risk of academic failure. It contains a series of ten visuals that represent struggles in life and behaviors/strategies to help overcome them. Because of the scheduling difficulties mentioned above, she was only able to get through six of the visuals, yet still believes the program was extremely effective. This group started with six students but ended with four because two families moved out of our district. Three of the four students had reduced amounts of discipline referrals from semester one to semester two as well as increased grade averages. In addition, the perception data from the Resilience survey completed showed an improvement in their sense of belonging as well as their sense of power and responsibility in their life. Though one of the students did not find academic success, his survey results did show improvement. This particular student is now in the SST process and data is being collected to consider testing for a learning disability. After discussing the supportive research and effectiveness of the curriculum with this group, our Principal is looking into funding to purchase updated materials from “Why Try?”. Because data from this small group points to increased sense of belonging and greater academic achievement, we will put greater focus on delivering all of the ten visuals during a more consistent time frame. A dedicated time period without disruption for eating and staggered arrivals would most likely prove beneficial. All three counselors plan to utilize this curriculum with more small groups, while tailoring it to specific grade levels.

As previously stated, because were were able to take positive outcome data to our administration, we have gained protected time for groups during this academic year, of which we are taking advantage. We are continuing attendance small groups and each of us have also increased the amount of students that we involve in small groups for social/emotional reasons.

Group Name: Resilience Group

Goal: Both Academic & Behavior School-wide goals addressed.

Target Group: 6th Grade boys at risk of failing.

Data Used to Identify Students: Students identified for this group were chosen through academic achievement data and discipline data. All students chosen were failing at least one academic content area and had received at least one discipline referral.

School Counselor(s): Diaz

ASCA Domain, Mindsets & Behaviors Standard(s): M1, M2, M3, M6 B-LS3,4,7,9; B-SMS6,7,10; B-SS1,5

Outline of Group Sessions Delivered: I. Introduction to Group II. Introduction to Why Try? Program/Reality Ride Lesson III. Reality Ride Group Activity (Cooperation) IV.Tearing Off Your Label lesson V. Defense Mechanisms VI. Climbing Out Lesson VII. Group Closure

Process Data (Number of students affected): 6 male students (2 moved to different schools towards end of semester) 14 sessions, 20-45 minutes per session

Perception Data (Surveys or assessments used): "Why Try?"Pre/Post Resilience Measure shows growth in the students' perceptions of belonging and power in their own lives. They responded much more positively at the conclusion of group than they did at the outset. Specifically, there was a 5.3 point average improvement on the negatively stated items (#3, 5, 15, 16, 18 & 19) and a 22.4 point average improvement on the positively stated items. See below & attached powerpoint for data chart/graph with specific survey items. Pre/Post 1. I have a dream or goal for my life. 5/5 2. The choices I make today will affect my future. 4.2/5 3. When I face challenges, I am more likely to give up than try. 4/3 4. I let other people help me when I have a problem. 2/4 5. I believe that laws and rules make my life more difficult. 4/3.5 6. Challenges are opportunities for motivation and growth. 4/5 7. I see my future as positive and full of potential. 4.5/5 8. I am willing to work for something that I really want. 4.5/5 9. There are a lot of adults that care about me. 3/5 10.If someone treats me bad, I am more likely to ignore him/her and walk away rather than lash back. 3/4 11. I can think of lots of people who can help me to solve a problem. 3/4.5 12. I focus on what is right about me rather than what is wrong about me. 4.5/5 13. There is at least one adult at my school that I can trust. 3/5 14. I have the power to avoid getting into trouble in my life. 2/4.5 15. I often do things that I really don't want to do because it will make me look cool in front of my friends. 3/2.5 16. I think my challenges at home will make me get into trouble. 3.5/3 17. I can tell the difference between friends that pull me down and friends that lift me up. 4.5/5 18. I think my challenges at school will make me get into trouble. 4.5/4 19. I see getting help from others as a sign of weakness. 4.5/3.2 20. There are many adults that I can count on. 4.5/3.2 21. I understand the consequences of the things that I do. 4/4.5 22.I can help people see the good things about me. 4.5/5 23. I know how to solve the difficult problems I face in life. 2/3 24. I can see the opportunities that lie ahead of me in the future. 4/4.5 25. I know how to keep myself motivated when things are hard. 2/4 26. I feel close to people at this school. 3/4 27. I am happy to be at this school. 3.7/4.5

Outcome Data (Achievement, attendance, and/or behavior data): Three out of the four remaining male students saw a letter grade improvement in their averaged grade percentages. This improvement indicated a 10.9% increase of the overall group grade average. These students also were able to be promoted to the next grade level despite originally being at risk in one or more of the required academic courses to pass. As well, the same three out of four of the students received zero discipline referrals for the second semester (reduction of either 2-0 or 1-0). See attached powerpoint for graphs.

Implications: Both perception and outcome data show improvement for the students participating in this group. The one student that did not show academic progress did score higher on the resilience post survey showing his perceptions of belonging and responsibility to have increased. Because of the success of this group, the counselors at LMS plan to utilize the WhyTry? curriculum with more groups this year and possibly incorporate some of the lessons into classroom core curriculum lessons. As well, plans are in place to identify students for these groups earlier in the school year in order to maximize achievement during the rest of the year. Because of the restrictive academic schedule, conversations with our administration were held. This year, our school-wide schedule has been modified to allow 30 minutes of enrichment time for all students. This time has also been designated as protected time for counseling groups as well.

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