At PJH, small group counseling is a critical piece in our responsive services and tiered interventions. Small groups support our vision by instilling resiliency, 21st century skills and social/emotional learning. Small groups are rooted in our belief statement of providing differentiated support, based on student need, in a caring environment. It is also closely tied to our mission in addressing social/emotional, academic and career needs to ensure equity and success. Small groups are instrumental in helping us achieve our program goals as we work to increase achievement, decrease chronic attendance and close-the-gap with our 8th grade chronic attendees.
Peet's small groups spring life for many reasons including passion, data, mindset and behavior standards, developmental need, stakeholder feedback and our building/counseling program’s vision/mission/goals. Regarding our passions, Mrs. Lins is very enthusiastic about student leadership groups, therefore, she has the Leadership 101 small group every year. Mrs. Kenser is very passionate about college and career readiness, therefore, has a college-ready small group each Spring. Both groups address our three domains that are important for EVERY students’ success. Small groups also spring forth based on needs observed by our teachers. For example, we have many teachers concerned with 7th graders coming in and their lack of organizational skills. We also get recommendations in the transition process from sixth grade teachers on students who struggle with organization. This provides a great basis and a targeted group of students that we have in the organizational small group each Fall. Our action plan also comes together based on unique needs and/or parent concern. The new student small group, for example, came together as a result of two parents bringing their concerns of their child having difficulties meeting new friends.
Based on our school data profile, we have a growing African American population, and to meet their needs, we provide an African American girls small group. This need is also what created the diversity small group to work towards our Black History Month assembly.
Developmentally, we also see some of our seventh grade girls having a hard time transitioning from elementary to junior high and creating/sustaining healthy friendships. We respond to that and try to intervene by including girls in the 7th grade Girls Circle groups, one in the Fall and one in the Spring.
Our building’s mission is Building Relationships, Maximizing Learning. This mission, as well as our Peet’s Culture Goal, underlines much of our small group desire which is to build relationships and connect students so it can maximize their learning potential. Small groups are brought together to help students feel a connection, not only with their school environment (M 3), but also with an adult in our building as well as their peers (Behavior: Social Skills 2 & 3). Although each group has a specific purpose and learning targets, underlying themes that connect all of them are building relationships and connections to school and peers.
Each small group, and the lessons designed and catered to each one, are all rooted from ASCA’s Mindset and Behavior Standards. These drive our learning objectives and perception data assessments. Because of that strong foundation, these groups can show such growth and truly spring to life. For example, with our SEL group, that was ignited due to a developmental need in social/emotional learning regarding social skills and teacher feedback. We had four mindset/behavior standards chosen and that guided our perception data questions for our pre-and post-test along with our social/emotional learning competencies. An example that shows this alignment, is our standard (B-SS 4: Demonstrate empathy) and our test question: “I’m able to empathize with others and put myself in their shoes.” Students could answer on a likert scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree.
Our results report helps inform, as well as clarify strengths and weaknesses, of individual lessons, specific learning objectives and the small group as a whole. The perception data gives a holistic picture of the growth, or lack thereof, that took place. The outcome data is another strong measure that can support the small group responsive effort or show a disconnect between goals set-out initially and the reality of its outcome. For example, our last question regarding social engagement, could have been stronger or a more involved piece in our lesson planning. When questions such as that one show smaller gains than expected, it serves as a starting point regarding implications. For example, reflecting on what may have gone wrong and what we could do differently or more effectively in delivery if we do the group/unit again.