As previously mentioned in Component 3, we reviewed our PBIS and discipline data and found that there were over 500 referrals last year for out of school suspensions for physical altercations. As a result, the school’s strategic plan and one of our school counseling program goals centered on reducing behavior referrals for conflict. For the counseling department to attain our behavior goal, we collaborated with administration and the PBIS committee to implement several small groups that focus on positive behavior and center around students’ developmental needs and our chosen Mindsets and Behaviors. We focused our efforts on supporting students in ISS and provided small group lessons three times a week to teach alternatives to acting out aggressively towards peers, mindfulness, understanding emotions, improving their overall mood, communication skills, improving relationships with teachers as well as peers and developing a Win/Win mindset.
We also conducted small group sessions to address attendance issues. In the previous year, there were 205 students with 14 or more absences The SWAT (Students Without Attendance Trouble) group targeted theses students. The school’s strategic plan and one of our school counseling program goals centered on reducing chronic absenteeism.
Lesson plan content for both attendance and behavior groups were driven by our selected Mindsets & Behaviors (M2, M3, M6, B SS 2, B SS 5, and B SS 9). Specifically, the topics in our attendance group covered responsibility, establishing goals and effective study skills. Students visualized their future after middle school, researched a career path and got excited about their choices. One of the most important topics discussed was Georgia’s compulsory attendance law. The topics that we discussed are the foundation for student success.
ISS group topics focused on lessons to build skills that include responsibility, organization, time management, communication, initiative, attention, and social skills. We were guided by the topics found in The Leader in Me (Covey, 2008). These topics teach our students the basic principles of leadership and character. According to research, students who possess certain character strengths do better in school, work, education and their academics. We all believe that teaching social/ emotional skills are one of the leading factors that contribute to improved behaviors in the classroom.
Sixth through eighth grade attendance, group members were selected based on their previous attendance data. Students that had more than five unexcused absences were targeted for small group intervention. The Attendance group met once a week on Thursdays during their grade level connections time for a minimum of thirty minutes.
The “Be Great Group” included students that had one or more incidences of either in school or out-of-school suspension. We created this group to help students build strategies to make better choices and accepting responsibility for their actions. We focused on and how to create a win-win situation for all students (Covey, 2008). This group met on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of each week. Each counselor met with a group of students once a week.
In the interest of meeting the need of our students, all counselors should adjust the time of year our groups are set to begin (i.e. attendance groups in October). This will allow us to target a growing number of students who struggle with chronic absenteeism. Since our grading period ends in October, this is the perfect time to analyze student trends in behavior, academics and attendance. Unfortunately, we did not review data at this crucial period when was necessary.
As we begin to look at attendance data, we should carefully research why a student is absent from school. If we understand the reason behind the absence, counselors will know the best way to act against the problem. Upon reviewing the results report, we decided that inviting parents for a session or two should be an added component to build more supports for the struggling student.
We will tailor the Pre/Post test questions each grade level. Sixth grade questions should be broken down to the vocabulary of a sixth grader. If we administer different tests to each grade level, it should give counselors a better understanding of the content that should taught.
All three counselors plan to continue working with student attendance. This is an area that our administration would like for us to continue to support. While working with the attendance group, the 8th grade counselor was able to develop a positive relationship with students. We decided that parent sessions could be a helpful component and would establish a good working relationship with the families.