The small group responsive services for the School Counseling Program are developed to help implement the vision, mission, and goals of the program. Aside from core curriculum, small group counseling allows for me to reach a vast amount of students in a shorter amount of time. However, many of my groups had to have four students or less due to limited space in my office (larger groups require staff coordination).
The School Counseling Program offers a variety of small group topics and are chosen based on program goals. In 2015-2016, there were 12 small group topics delivered to students. Topics that addressed attendance were Friendship, Attendance, Self-Esteem, Grief, and Leadership. Topics that addressed behavior were School Success, Coping Skills, Social Skills, Problem-Solving, and Leadership. And topics that addressed achievement were Achievement/Study Skills and Half-Pint Poetry.
When it comes to creating a small group, there are a multitude of methods I use for choosing participants. The first method I prefer to use is data. Through the disaggregation of data, I am able to determine which students need Tier II support and I can effortlessly align participants with my program goals relating to attendance, achievement, and behavior. The second method I prefer to use is stakeholder referrals. If a teacher or parent were to approach me with a concern, I would consider my options for interventions including small group counseling. My last preferable method for choosing small group participants is school counselor referrals. As the school counselor, who works with all students in a K-5 building, I feel as though I am able to use my professional digression to address the needs of students. I am able to use observations, collaborative conversations, and knowledge of students to make informed decisions.
With behavior as a focus, I was able to implement several small group counseling interventions to teach students exceptional attitude, skills, and knowledge. One group I worked with specifically, 2nd grade School Success, met for 7 lessons and worked on skills necessary for success at Findley Elementary School: listening, following directions, cooperation, etc. As a result, they had growth in all areas with skills being the highest (52% to 85%). The shift in student perceptions shows promise for impacting program goals.
In the future, it is important to that I reflect on my current practices and make improvements as needed. In regard to small group responsive services, I believe I could provide more small groups specifically focused on my building goals. For example, the School’s Improvement Plan goal for achievement includes an increase in reading growth with a focus on our ELL students and an increase in math growth with a focus on our African American students. The school also has a goal for behavior with a focus on African American students. And although I provided interventions to African American students for behavior – there was an increase in the number of Tier II students. This funnels my focus for next year when I begin to develop small group responsive services.