Small groups are an integral part of the Flinn Middle School counseling department. After issues arise that have been identified in each grade level using the needs assessment, class presentations, discussions with students, or other stakeholders; the counselors look at the next step of intervention that is needed for our students. The Flinn small group action plan reflects our school’s need to reinforce our three main goals along with the many mindsets and behaviors that were our program’s focus
The topics for the action plan were started at the beginning of the school year, but groups were added as counselors found the need amongst their students. After a larger group of students had been taught skills and a select group was identified as still needing more intervention these students are placed in the small group that is appropriate for them. Using pre-posttest perception data is helpful in finding students that are feeling overwhelmed in life or school but might maintain good grades or attend school regularly. We also used data to find the closing the gap students and focused on those students’ needs for small groups. The counselors also run weekly individual progress reports (IPR) for eligibility and quarterly reports for attendance records.
After looking at our goals, the counselors looked at what was currently in place to help our students and what needed to be added for the students’ best interest. It was decided that the Building Falcons group (lessons provided) would be started at all grade levels to reach students that were on the bubble of passing classes, but might need a few extra skills or supports in order to further their education. The group that we came up with was so large that we asked our school social workers to also run groups. We ran the weekly IPRs and looked for students in the mandatory lunch tutoring groups that were considered bubble students that could benefit from the group.
We found a curriculum called “How to get good grades, in ten easy steps” and used this as a base for our lessons. We also added games and other activities that had life lessons to keep the groups interesting. These lessons contained skills such as believing in yourself, being organized, time management, note taking skills, reading to understand, test anxiety, and who to reach out to for adult help in the school. These topics fit in nicely with our mindsets and behaviors. These needs were based on having positive attitudes toward working and learning, demonstrating the ability to manage transitions and the ability to adapt to changing situations and responsibilities, and lastly create relationships with adults that can support our students. We gave each student a pre and post test to collect perception data, and had each student set realistic goals for their personal grades. Each counselor looked at the perceptions of the pretests to focus each particular lesson for their group individually. While the main lesson was followed, counselors and social workers were allowed to individualize and change up the discussion questions to better meet the needs of their group.
The results report informs future school counselors with the activities and lessons that were effective and which lessons need to be added to or changed for better understanding. The focus in the previous school year was to reduce the amount of failing grades each student received. This school year we will be focusing on reducing failing grades, but also raising GPA levels at the same time. We will continue to run IPRs to find the beginning of the year bubble students that we can be most effective with. We will also continue to look at quarter 1 and quarter 3 report cards, so we will still have time 4th quarter to work individually with students to keep them from attending summer school or failing the grade level. According to our data, this group was successful for the majority of the students when you look at the amount of failing grades, but when you look at the whole report card in some cases other grades fell while failing grades improved. As a result we will spend more time discussing time management and how it is possible to maintain higher grades in all classes. This was a downfall that was not thought about last year, but looking forward we will have this in mind. Our ultimate goal in the future will be to raise failing grades and overall GPAs for our students.