Collecting and analyzing the data from lessons we give is one of our most important tools for refining our ability to impact students. The three lessons highlighted in the core curriculum results report (attachment 9.1) were chosen for analysis particularly because they target mindsets and behaviors we deemed important for accomplishing our school counseling program goals.
The “Be On Time to School” lesson was our introduction to our School-Wide tardy reduction competition, the “Time to Shine Tournament.” The perception data (attachment 9.2) showed less improvement than we initially anticipated about students believing Teacher Advisory (TA) and Yellow Jacket Period (YJP) were important parts of the day. Therefore, we thought in the future we might want to create a student-driven PSA or monthly announcements to discuss how TA and YJP helped them improve in school. From this lesson we thought we might have received more student completed pre and post-tests if lessons from counseling were delivered more frequently in TA and expectations were communicated more clearly. We have already addressed this for next year, by scheduling our TA counseling lessons well in advance. We hope that the combination of providing advanced notice and simple, user-friendly lesson plans will allow TA teachers, who have class sizes of no more than 15, to implement some lessons from the counseling curriculum that do not require a counselor to be physically present.
The “Positive Thinking” classroom lesson is linked to program goal 2. Our perception data (attachment 9.3) noted that over 50% of students already showed mastery of three of the four pre-test questions for the lesson. Thus, in the future, we may want to consider changing our pre/post-test questions to promote more critical thinking, eliciting more robust results. It would also be appropriate to stretch the discussion aspect of the lesson and have students personally reflect on how negative thoughts can be controlled and turned into positive ones. The perception data also indicated that most students did not know how to define a “mantra,” which could indicate an opportunity to go deeper into the power of repeating positive statements to effectively change one’s thinking.
The “Academic Planning and Goal Setting” lesson is linked to the 3rd goal (attachment 9.3). This was one lesson that we will break into two lessons in the future so that we can do a more in-depth activity with students about student-success skills and how they might be applied to improve grades. This lesson highlighted a key struggle of achieving “breadth” versus “depth” with students. We often feel we need to go over as much information as possible whenever we can get in the classroom, because time is so limited. However, this approach usually sacrifices engaging students and ensuring the information is understood. In the future, we might have TA teachers introduce student success skills before this lesson, so we could skip directly to the activity and begin productive conversations about practically applying these skills. This would allow us to add a peer-to-peer discussion to the lesson in which students could discuss “What might prevent you from applying this skill?” and “How will you make sure you still apply these skills when you experience these obstacles?”
Overall in our conversation about disaggregating perception and outcome data, we had certain thematic takeaways for making future lessons more effective. We agreed that we need to make surveys and pre/post tests electronic to save time calculating results and printing documents. We also reflected that our skills have improved in writing assessments linked to mindsets and behaviors that target student-attained “knowledge, attitudes, and skills.” Finally, we recognized the importance of our overall core curriculum planning; to ensure that we are able to get into classes, we must front-load the majority of our lessons prior to winter break when teachers are more flexible with their instructional time and we must utilize non-traditional methods of reaching all of our students, such as TA time, PSAs, and announcements.