Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Preparing and Starting Small Groups

The most important stage of successful groups is pre-group planning. I taught group counseling in a graduate program for 10 years and my graduate students heard me say this over and over. I start groups by looking at the referral reasons and screening students to see if they are willing to participate in a group. In the fall most of my referrals come from parents and my prior knowledge of students, but the round I begin second semester is primarily focused on students who teachers feel need tier 2 support. I build my group sessions around the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors and student needs, If I can find quality resources for small groups I am delighted to use the plans and activities others have spent time piloting. The groups I am starting this week for my third graders are based on two resources I shared back in October. 
Boys: I am adapting seven lessons from First Steps to Social Success by Senn youthlightsocialsuccess for my KNIGHTS group with boys. I selected the knight theme to tie this group together because that is our school mascot. Our first activity is a shield that helps identify strengths and uniqueness. I constructed the pre/psot group survey based on what I thought they needed and the objectives for each session.
Girls: I am implementing the group StarBound by Miller youthlightstarBound with the girls. We used the StarBound resource with a fifth grade group that started in the fall and meets every other week but this resource has multiple activities with each session topic so you can implement it in more than one grade level (it is a grade 3-8 resource). The StarBound resource is linked to the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors. Depending on how many sessions and what activities you select it covers most of the Mindsets and many of the Behaviors. I prefer to focus on 1-2 Behaviors a session so I selected: B-LS 1 B-LS 2; B-SMS 1 B-SMS 7; and B-SS 1 B-SS 2 B-SS 4 B-SS 5 B-SS 6 B-SS 7 B-SS 8
StarBound has a student survey but I created my own because I prefer to gather Perception Data with the type of pre/post surveys explained in the ASCA National Model Implementation Guide nationalmodelbooks Most of mine use a Likert scale with an even number of choices, forcing a positive or negative (rather than neutral) response. I also use scaling techniques to describe beliefs and open ended questions to assess knowledge.
When students come to the first session of group I have a folder for each member ready to go with a cover that is our opening session main activity, an attendance sheet with topics for each session, a copy of group rules or group contract, and the pre-group survey. I keep these folders in my office and everything members do gets kept in them to go home after the last session, except the pre/post-group surveys. Time is precious in group so this level of preparation is needed so I can focus on the process aspect of group once students are in my office.

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