The three lessons in the peer relations unit for 7th grade were analyzed for the core curriculum (CC) results report. Lesson one, Upstander Strategies, supported the creation and maintenance of a culture of kindness and inclusion. Lesson two, Managing Peer Pressure, encouraged awareness of student’s social interactions and taught critical thinking skills. Lesson three, Celebrating Diversity, was a cultural awareness lesson which emphasized empathy.
What was effective? Upon review of the process and perception data, both indicated favorable results. Process data was evaluated by informal conversation with teachers and with a teacher perception survey, given in the fall. The procedures used for scheduling and delivery of CC lessons worked very well. Several specific procedures stood out as being highly effective. First, the strategic selection of class enabled us to align some of the CC lesson with the content students were already learning in their core classes. Second, the creation of a CC calendar for the entire year allowed teachers some flexibility with the selection of the day counselors taught in their room. Overall, the process worked very well for teachers, counselors, and students. Perception data was measured using pre and posttest for each of the three lessons. The perception data indicated that the Upstander Strategies lesson had a positive impact on 7th grade students. An average of the first six knowledge questions showed pretest score of 47% and a post test score of 87%. This data indicated that students knew the upstander strategies. This is further reflected in question eight, where 88% of students reported they believed they were capable of assisting a classmate who was being mistreated. For the Peer Pressure lesson, data reflected that students had a solid understanding of the various forms of peer pressure, with a pre test score of 29% and post test score of 77%. Questions five through seven were multiple choice questions where a specific form of peer pressure was presented and students were asked to identify which refusal strategy would be the most effective. Overall, the students showed growth, with an average gain (pre to post) of 36 percentage points. With the Cultural Diversity lesson, we saw 20 percentage points gained for question one, which asked if “learning from culturally diverse peers can improve their character, how they relate to peers and the work they create”. Question two states that “students will learn from others who are from different cultures” and we saw 19 percentage points gained with this question. Understanding, accepting and valuing diverse backgrounds helps our students thrive at school and in society. The ability to relate well to all types of people is a skill we wanted our students to possess and the CC unit provided the support to master these skills.
What will be different? Discipline data was used to measure the outcome of our peer relations unit. Analysis reflected, 26 Rule 5 referrals in 2016-2017 and 63 Rule 5 referrals in 2017-2018 for 7th grade. Rule 5 is the discipline code for peer to peer aggression. The referrals increased despite the perception data indicating students learned the Mindsets and Behaviors being taught. This forced us to critically think about additional interventions our school needed to improve peer interactions and decrease Rule 5 infractions. We outlined several new interventions to be implemented for the 2018-2019 school year. First, we knew that a large percentage of students never received a Rule 5 infraction. However, there were students who struggle with peer relationships and repeatedly receive multiple Rule 5 referrals. These students need additional support. This could be through a counseling group, individual sessions, referral to outside community resources, and/or increased contact with parent/guardians. Second, we will increase the communication with all parents/guardians regarding the counseling lesson content being delivered, by using the school’s social medial page. Parents/guardians will be encouraged to discuss with their child the content, strategies, and techniques being taught through the core curriculum lessons. Third, we will begin discussion with our administrators about implementing restorative justice practices school wide. Fourth, we will offer a book study for staff to learn and discuss new ideas on how to connect with diverse learners. We will be using the book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond. In addition to these four changes listed above, there are additional improvements that will be made to the delivery and measurement tool for these three lessons. These enhancements are outlined in detail in the results report.