As mentioned in a previous post, in my accountability plan for this year, I'm using data to drive the small groups I implement. With the winter break quickly approaching, I'm beginning to wrap-up my first round of groups for the year. Three of the groups I've implemented (one academic, two behavior) have focused on school success. To determine the participants, I've used my experience on the school data team to assist me. I've also found that implementing groups through data demonstrates how counselors play a vital role in the school, to assist teachers in the academic and behavioral development of students. Using the RtI model is quite simple and user friendly when the components are understood.
Academics- During the data team meetings, strategies to support identified red and yellow zone students are discussed. As a school counselor, I'm able to take note of these individuals and share strategies I'm implementing to support these students. One is through small group counseling of study skills. I'm happy to say, all students that (as of the beginning of the year) were only receiving classroom intervention (while progress monitoring) participated in 30 minutes of small group counseling once a week for 8 weeks. During the group (often during lunch, specials, or recess- I interchanged the times so they didn't miss the same activity each week), we cover different topics including: work habits, listening skills, organization, test taking strategies, preparing your body for learning, and homework plans. I've used a variety of resources to implement this topic in a fun and interactive way. One of my favorite resources for academic group counseling is called, I Didn't Know I Could Be the Child Left Behind. I've used this resource several times now for academic groups and it's easy to use, a quick and easy resource for me, and most of all- something the kids really enjoy from grades 2-5. I'm looking forward to looking at the data again to determine if participation in these groups played a role in increasing academic performance in these students.
Behavior- To determine participants in the behavior group, I looked at the total number of logged behavioral referrals from last school year. There were a total of 590 write-ups among 201 students (school population from last year was 821). The results are very similar to the different tiers of RtI; 93% of our school population was identified as green zone (1-2 behavioral write-ups), 4% are yellow zone (3-5 write-ups), and 3% are red zone (6 or more write-ups). I identified all red and yellow zone students and what the write-ups were for. These individuals have been participating in a school success group focused on different behavioral strategies. Thanks to collaboration with the school librarian, we will begin a book club with students using Scholastic- Muhammad Ali: Go the Distance! books. I used these books at a previous school for behavioral support and the students loved them! Hopefully, follow up data will demonstrate a decrease in behavioral write-ups for students participating in this group.
To learn more about RtI please visit some of my favorite sites/blogs: RtI Network, Musings of an Urban School Psychologist, and Notes from the School Psychologist.
School counselors help make students teachable- facilitating small groups is one component of the multi-faceted job we have; however, it's important for EVERYONE to remember that we all have things going on in our lives (especially students!) that make it difficult to learn and/or make the best behavioral choices. Getting to the root of those problems is necessary before ANY intervention can be successful!