The small group action plan shows the four small groups that Hidden Hills students participated in throughout the year: social skills, citizenship, newcomer, and attendance. Students participating in group are referred by teachers, parents, themselves, or identified through data analysis. I met with the selected students to inquire about their commitment to participation and obtained parent permission. Based on teacher requests, I scheduled group sessions during student lunch time to avoid removing them from classroom instruction. Each group received a pre/post test, data was collected, and results were shared with our school counseling advisory board.
Hidden Hill’s goal to implement The Energy Bus principles inspired small group lessons. Everyone faces challenges, and The Energy Bus inspires students to overcome negativity and adversity through positive energy--vision, trust, optimism, enthusiasm, purpose, and spirit. Student needs in combination with the school’s goal to create a positive environment, and the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors greatly molded the development of the small groups.
The social skills group, which offers an opportunity for participants to improve their social skills, such as getting along with others, making friends, and resolving conflict, was developed from the ASCA Mindset: positive attitude toward work and learning. Similarly, the citizenship group revolved around fostering a positive attitude toward school. Citizenship group lessons, which supported the counseling program’s goal to improve citizenship grades, was based on the grading categories of student citizenship and altered to address student needs, teacher feedback, and the development of time-management, organizational and study skills.
The newcomer group assists students new to Hidden Hills Elementary in the transition to a new school. The newcomer students were invited simply based off their transfer status to Hidden Hills Elementary. Lessons were created to improve student participants’ sense of belonging in the school environment and build their skills to demonstrate the ability to assume responsibility. Similarly, attendance lessons focused on building skills necessary to demonstrate the ability to assume responsibility, including ways to successfully balance school, home, and community activities.
The citizenship group curriculum was based off the seven grading categories. Through a counselor developed curriculum, I further aligned my lessons with specific ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors. Mindset 6, along with Learning Strategy 3 and Self-Management Skills 8, served as a guideline while developing the citizenship small group lesson plans. The pre/post test survey questions identified student’s self-reflection in terms of their skills related to each of the citizenship grading categories.
Following the conclusion of the citizenship group, outcome and perception data was gathered to identify group effectiveness. On the citizenship post test, 100% of first graders revealed that they always or most of the time “don’t talk while the teacher talks, get along with others, follow the playground rules, and use the iPad carefully.” Similarly, a majority of second and third graders revealed that they “use the iPad carefully, take turns and share with friends, and have an organized backpack.” Data from the fourth and fifth grade pre/post tests were not included due to the infrequency of student participation. Perception data illustrated an improvement in the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors that guided the lessons--specifically demonstration in the ability to assume responsibility. Outcome data illustrated an improvement in citizenship grades as well. Before the intervention, there were 67 students identified with 2 or more less than satisfactory marks in citizenship. After the intervention, almost all students improved in at least one category of their citizenship grades. Overall, the number of identified students with 2 or more less than satisfactory marks in citizenship dropped by 41%, from 67 students to 39.
In the future, I will schedule the citizenship group earlier in the school year. Although this year, members were identified from their first grading period results, obtaining teacher referrals earlier in the year would generate similar group lists. Meeting with with group members earlier in the school year will give us the opportunity to work with the students on building stronger citizenship skills before first grading period grades are out. Furthermore, it is hard to use citizenship grades as data because there is not a standard that ensures citizenship grading consistency between teachers. For the next group, I will use discipline referrals to help identify additional students who are in need of these lessons. Lastly,I would adjust my pre/post survey to include questions from all three sections: attitude, skills, and knowledge. Even though I gained a great insight into the student’s perception of their citizenship, it was difficult to assess the skills that they gained.