We chose a cohort of 1st grade students (supporting Goal #1) after studying kindergarten office infraction and SWPBIS data for 2016-2017 and identifying a gap between a group of 15 students and the rest of their 59 classmates. In 2017-2018, 8 of these students moved, leaving a targeted group of seven 1st grade students. In order to intervene with these students we put the following in place: Tier 1 – mindfulness training, Tier 2 – small support groups with targeted students, and Tier 3 – individual intensive behavior plans and skill instruction.
Considering the types of behavioral needs of this group of 7 students, it was evident they needed to learn an additional skillset of coping strategies, paired with guided practice, so that the strategies would be generalized to their everyday lives. After I advocated to bring mindfulness training to our school for this group of students, we approached the Pratyush Sinha Foundation to provide the training. Even though we did not have the funds, ample funding was secured by the foundation which allowed us to provide this unique training to ALL students in our school (Tier 1 intervention)!
Using mindfulness training as a Tier 1 intervention was innovative; new for our students and staff, but also researched based. According to the American Psychological Association, benefits include: stress reduction, increased working memory, improved focus, less emotional reactivity, more cognitive flexibility, less focus on feelings of distress and relationship satisfaction. We felt these areas were directly related to our goal of reducing office infractions and improving classroom behavior so students would be more successful in school and life. The Pratyush Sinha Foundation used the Mindful Schools curriculum for their sessions and a number of ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors are met within the curriculum offerings. Training involved: whole staff training, four additional mindfulness after-school training sessions for registered staff, and whole classroom 15 minute mindfulness student training once per week for two 8 week cycles, for a total of 16 sessions across the school year.
Tier 2 school counseling interventions included small support group participation for 6 of the targeted students (1 parent did not authorize permission to participate). These students participated in either a social skills (3), friendship (1), or self-esteem (2) group based on their presenting skill deficits. Tier 3 school counseling interventions included individual intensive behavior modification charts and individualized skill instruction for these students. Student behavior charts were developed following multiple student observations to help determine specific behaviors of focus and collaboration with our behavior specialist and classroom teacher. Each time a behavior chart was implemented, it was explained to the student in detail with role-playing. Behavior charts went home daily for family involvement. Along with this, the school counselor and the behavior specialist would meet with the students periodically to teach and practice specific skills related to the behavioral needs observed during the school year. The data results for this particular cohort of seven 1st graders are outlined in the results report.
Even though the mindfulness sessions included this component, we lack documented pre-test perception data and can only report out school-wide pre-test results for the impact of the mindfulness training on students since data was not compiled by the outside agency based on grade level. 77% of students indicated mindfulness helped them that day, 68% indicated that mindfulness helped them focus better in the classroom, 58% indicated that mindfulness helped them be happier at school, 67% indicated that mindfulness helped them calm down when upset, and 54% indicated that mindfulness helped them avoid fights or arguments. 60% of students indicated mindfulness helps them fall asleep at night. These results were directly related to our goals and were significant enough to support continuing the intervention in 2018-2019. Our school results were so strong that our school district received a significant Pennsylvania state grant to bring mindfulness training to ALL elementary school students in our district in 2018-2019.
Pre-test mindfulness data was not collected and post-test data was not segregated by grade level or by students in the cohort group. The mindfulness trainers implemented their own curriculum and even though numerous ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors were targeted, they were not chosen specifically based on exact student need of the cohort group. Small groups, behavior modification charts, and skills instruction for the cohort students targeted appropriate Mindsets & Behaviors based on their needs. The data supports continuing all tiered interventions, however, we would like to create a more specific link to skill development and mindfulness techniques via the pre-post test data.