Small group responsive services allowed the counseling department to support a number of students at a tier 2 level of intervention who have shown to be in need through the school data profile. Counselors chose Mindsets and Behaviors (M/B) that would best support the unique needs of our students. By focusing on resilience groups, school counselors were able to include students with a variety of needs in the same group supporting their self-confidence in their ability to succeed (M2), supporting their self-motivation (B-LS4), and assist students in the ability to overcome any barriers to learning (B-SMS6). The Why Try and 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens curriculum were used to create 16 small groups to support these students. Resilience group participants were chosen by meeting program goal criteria including African-American males with disabilities and economically disadvantaged African-American and Latino males in general education who received a level 1 or level 2 score on the Georgia Milestones Assessments (GMAS) in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics (MA).
The friendship group was formed to support sixth grade students in need of extra support for having a positive attitude (M6) and connecting to extracurricular opportunities (B-LS10) as they transition to middle school.
The cypher group was created to supported African-American males with disabilities in the area of discipline. This group was inspired after attending a session at the 2017 American School Counseling Association conference on incorporating hip-hop into small group counseling. Six students were invited and three students joined with parent permission. The target M/Bs were to create a strong staff-student relationship of support (B-SS3) and use hip-hop as a tool for self-expression, self-confidence, positive self-talk, and emotional coping skills (B-SMS7).
Two groups to support 7th and 8th grade female students were implemented based on student need to support positive self-esteem (M2) and coping skills (B-SMS7) in relation to the impact of social media and peer relations (B-LS1). The Dove Self Esteem Project curriculum was implemented in seven sessions. Students in this group were selected based on self-referrals and counselor invitation.
Through the resilience groups, 30 eighth grade students were supported in twelve session groups. School counselors were able to address the mindset of self-confidence in ability to succeed (M2) and the behaviors of apple self-motivation and self-direction to learning (B-LS4) and demonstrate ability to overcome barriers to learning (B-SMS6). Each of these M/B was linked to the skills taught through the Why Try curriculum to support students in their positive academic and behavioral progress. Booster sessions may be necessary to continue the support through the last two months of the year. Overall students started with a high attitude toward their own behaviors and abilities. Two areas of attitude that should receive more focus in future groups are 1) focusing on strengths over weaknesses and 2) seeking help when having a problem. While in several categories, group members decreased their accuracy in knowledge questions from pre to post tests, group members did increase in their skills questions. For example, group members decreased in their knowledge of what positive self-talk is, but nearly 90% of group members were able to give at least 3 examples of their own positive self-talk. This data matches the focus of sessions where a concept was introduced with an explanation, but the majority of the lesson was focused on the actual skills and application of the information. Within these eighth grade groups, two level two scores decreased to level one scores. Sixteen level two scores increased to level 3 or 4 scores. This helped improve our whole school scores. A majority of the level 1 and level 2 scores remained the same. Four of the level 2 scores that remained the same were from students who were moved up in math levels to a high school level course. While students did increase their scores in ELA by forty-two percent and in MA by twenty-nine percent, the counseling department wants to impact more positive change. In the future, resilience groups will continue but with a more focused connection between the why try concepts and academic application as well as adding study skill strategies. In addition, counselors will communicate resilience lesson to parents and teachers so they can emphasize these concepts with students. Counselors will continue looking at GMAS scores as academic outcome data. Counselors will continue using the perception survey, but will also collect observational data from teachers to help in supporting work habits and academic attitudes impacting the progress of students’ in class performance.