Topics for small groups during the 2017-18 school year were chosen based on information gathered from school improvement data, referrals by teachers, administrators, parents and the school counselors. For groups such as “Test Busters”, “Kindergarten Kids”, “Study Buddies” and “Making Good Choices” we use school data and referrals from school staff and parents. Our “Test Busters” group participants were invited based on 2016-17 Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test results which was connected to our school counseling program goals and our school improvement goals. Our “Kindergarten Kids” group participants were selected based on our PBIS Behavior Notification data from the first month of school and was connected to our second school counseling program goal. Students for “Calming the Butterflies”, “Social Butterflies” and “The Optimists” were selected based on referrals from school staff, parents and the school counselors. Throughout the school year we remind staff via email of the groups we offer. If there is a student need not being met by any groups, we may create a new group. Several years ago many students were exhibiting low self-esteem resulting in social withdrawal and dropping grades. We created a group called “The Optimists” and were able to support the student’s needs in a small group setting. As students are identified for a group we place their names on a spreadsheet and send home a permission form. As a result, we begin groups at different points during the school year.
All groups except our “Over the Rainbow” grief group are divided by grade, therefore the lesson and activities for each group are developmentally appropriate. As we determine the needs of students in our groups, we choose mindsets and behaviors to drive the goals of the group. The only group that has more than two mindsets and behaviors is our “Second Step” group because unlike our other groups, it meets weekly for most of the school year. We chose different mindsets and behaviors for each unit. This group focuses on four areas: skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and problem solving.
The data collected helps us measure the effectiveness of groups and the impact on students. The “Kindergarten Kids” group was new this year and was created based on PBIS data collected from Behavior Notification Forms. During the first month of school we had a high number of Kindergartners receive Behavior Notifications. We decided that starting a small group early in the school year would be an effective intervention. The ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for this group were B-SMS2, “Demonstrate self-discipline and self-control” and B-SS1, “Use effective oral and written communication skills and listening skills.” These were chosen because the students received Behavior Notifications for disruption during class and hitting/touching classmates. A student knowledge assessment and teacher assessment of the student’s behavior were used as perception data. All questions on the teacher assessment linked to the group mindsets and behaviors, centering around the ability to demonstrate both self-discipline and self-control in relation to listening when the teacher is talking, following directions, showing respect, raising their hand and keeping hands and feet to self. The question regarding asking for help when needed connects to B-SS1 and using effective oral and written communication. The outcome data came from the number of Behavior Notifications received during the first quarter compared to the second. The conduct and work habits grades received on the first quarter report card were compared to the second quarter.
The results report informed future plans for this group and how future data will be collected and lessons delivered. In the future we will make changes to the way perception data is collected. The student knowledge assessment came from a measurement tool provided by the Second Step Program. The questions were difficult for students to understand because there was more than one answer for each question. In retrospect we don’t feel that the student knowledge questions were as tied to the mindsets and behaviors as they could have been. Delivery could be improved by grouping the students by areas of need. The ten students were grouped by class and lunch time, but examining the teacher assessment to see what areas they scored lowest on and grouping students accordingly may allow for more focus on individual areas of need. We will continue offering this group because it was effective in reducing the number of behavior notifications received by students and there was an increase in teacher perception of how the students were behaving in class.