Small-Group Responsive Services Narrative:
Before the 2016-2017 year started, the counselors from Soldotna High School met with the ninth grade Counselor, along with administrators from both buildings. Based on how many students were below six credits, (see 10.3) counselors decided there needed to be interventions for this 10th grade cohort. Students identified by not being on track to graduate were placed into small group classrooms with four core teachers, subsequently referred to as CORE 4. Data for this intervention came from counselor recommendations from the ninth grade school, along with a behind on credits report (see 10.3).
To determine the needs of these credit deficient sophomores, a counselor went into the CORE 4 classrooms and had them complete a needs based survey. (see 10.4) This survey is what motivated the counselors to create a group based on anxiety management. After the survey was completed and the results compiled, a counselor sent out invitations to students who said they wanted to be a part of this group. While thirty students had said they wanted to be in a group about anxiety, only twelve of the thirty invited 10th graders attended the group for the first two sessions. The group’s attendance subsequently dwindled to 8 sophomores.
The Anxiety group was selected as an intervention because it would give counselors access to a group of 10th grade students who had identified anxiety as affecting their school performance. Group session topics were determined based on the initial group survey results (see 10.6). The content in the lessons centered around Mindset 1, belief in development of whole self, including a healthy balance of mental, social/emotional and physical well-being, and Mindset 2, self confidence in the ability to succeed. These paired with Behavior Learning Strategy 1, demonstrate critical thinking skills to make informed decisions, served as the backbone of the lessons that were presented in the group sessions. While the pre and post perception data stayed comparable, there was a slight decrease in the amount of anxiety that affected student performance (see 10.6). This, along with students stating they felt fairly comfortable reaching out for help with their anxiety demonstrates that Mindset 1, Mindset 2, and the other Behaviors that were identified, were addressed in the lessons.
While our group helped 10th graders with their overall well-being and sense of belonging, which is Mindset #1 in the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Mindsets and Behaviors, counselors were not able to accomplish getting these 10th graders on track to graduate at a higher rate (see 10.6). While the group did provide students coping mechanisms for dealing with their anxiety, it didn’t change their overall school performance. Looking at the outcome data, the counselors discussed multiple changes for this group next year. First, the counselors felt that they each should have run a group individually, with once a week meetings, to reach a larger group of identified students. The biggest change was that the counselors recognized that the goal that they focused on, improving 10th graders on track to graduate, was an academic goal, but they instead focused on a social/emotional intervention. While they felt this would increase the students sense of belonging and improve academic performance, they felt that the group should have been focused on study skills, executive functioning skills, and goal setting. Counselors felt they may have had more success if the group focus was academic.
The Girls Group is a group that is run each year by both counselors. This is a group that started back in 2009, and has continued on an annual basis. The group started with recognition that there are a lot of females who struggle with body image, boundaries, and self-management skills. With recommendations from the nurse, teachers, and both counselors, this group was put into action, and girls were personally invited to attend. Topics included: developmental assets, boundaries, body image, and goal setting.
Counselors offered Girls Group once a week for 2 months during November and December. Counselors offered this group as an option for girls to sign-up, and the counselors gave out permission slips and information about group content during the first session. While eight girls showed up for the first 2 sessions, the group dwindled to 4 by the last session. The counselors spoke about increasing the number of sessions available, but also focusing on one topic for more than one week.