The Implications section of the Results Report and the Small Group Narrative have been revised to respond to reviewer suggestions.
Small groups were identified during the Summer 2017 School Program Management Team (SPMT) meeting where we reviewed academic progress, attendance data, and PBIS behavior referrals from 2016-2017. We discussed where I could have the greatest impact on our school’s performance. (Attached is the Carole Highlands MSDE 2017-2018 Report Card.) We noticed that students in 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades lacked study skills and a growth mindset. Second grade, 4th and 5th graders reading and writing comprehension grades and English Language Proficiency scores were below grade level. We identified students, who would benefit from small group work; six groups were identified. Three groups were identified to address study skills: 2nd grade group; 4th grade group; and a 5th grade group. One group was established to address 4th grade attendance issue. One group was identified for 4th and 5th grade students based on PBIS bullying referrals, and another group was established to address 6th grade girls’ relationship/friendship issues.
The following research-based materials were used for the three study skills groups: Step Up to Better Grades by R. S. Zorn, Studying Test Taking and Getting Good Grades (Palomores & Schilling). Ready to Use Self Esteem and Conflict Solving Activities (B.Toelis) was used for the 4th grade attendance group. I collected perception data from students and parents, monitored homework completion, and test scores. I added topics to increase knowledge and practice to prepare for state assessments. Student grade point average in English oral and written skills increased by average of one letter grade. In the future, I would increase the 8 sessions to 10 sessions to allow for more practice.
In 2017-2018, I selected four sixth grade girls who exhibited relational aggression behaviors for a small group. The girls I identified for the group had a total of 12 referrals. They called other students names in Spanish and English. The girls manipulated relationships, spreading rumors, putdowns, teasing, and aggressive body language.
Two of the girls came to the United States to live with their parent after living with their grandmother. The girls lacked self-esteem and displayed aggression towards their younger siblings and other students. The parent depended on them to take care of their young siblings and perform parenting household duties. The girls were angry and their parents were unresponsive to requests from teachers and administrators to meet to address their bullying behaviors. The other two students were selected because the family dynamics changed drastically resulting in them being transferred to our school.
I identified the following M&B’s to address the goals for the girls group: M 1: Belief in the development of themselves. Students needed the ability to make healthy friendships. The small group activities and lessons enabled them to B-SS 2 to build positive and supportive relationships with other students, and B-SMS 2 demonstrate self-discipline and self-control. Students were exhibiting the “mean behaviors. “Participation in discussions and working to change relational aggression beliefs and behaviors within peer groups will help decrease the negativity that relational difficulties play in relationships (Brown et al., 1999 p435-450). The girls bullying behaviors decreased from 12 bullying referrals in 2016-2017 to six referrals for a 50% decrease.
Small group counseling helped to build positive relationships. The girls learned how to manage challenging situations and cope by recognizing their triggers. The post perception survey revealed there was an increase of 147% of having and using coping skills, and strategies. Researchers (Crick et al., 1996 p22-23) explains “relational aggression can take many forms such as malicious gossip, spreading rumors, lies, and threats to withdraw friendships etc.” The girls in my group needed to learn the difference between aggression and assertiveness. Although, the girls’ ability to talk to others about feelings and ask for help increased by 43%, students continued to have difficulty finding trusting adults to support them other than myself and our Social Services’ community resource advocate. In the future I will increase lessons that cover practicing role-playing scenarios that focuses on empathy. I will include journaling activities. I will add the perception survey questions: Would you participate in an afterschool activity? or volunteer to read to young students? In addition, I continue to monitor the girls’ behavior with teachers and parents. I changed the girls’ check-ins from weekly to monthly. I host a monthly lunch-bunch pizza party to provide support to the girls to assist with transition into their middle school feeder school.