==>Q1: Why is it important to provide small group counseling opportunities for students?
- Many students feel isolated in school (huge risk factor!) and making connections with their peers helps so much.
- It is an opportunity to focus on specifics needs and build peer support.
- Showing students they are not "going through something" alone.
- Same importance as a small group academic intervention - not responding to T1 social curriculum - Some Ss need more
- Merely letting students be part of a group setting where what they say matters is powerful.
==>Q2: How do you create a group atmosphere where all members feel safe & comfortable to contribute?
- Let students create and agree upon their own rules--ask, what do you need from each other to feel safe in here?
- Especially with younger kiddos, a discussion on "What is Confidentiality?" is very important. Make it kid-friendly!
- A2 careful selection of group members. Collaboratively developed norms.
- Setting clear expectations, lots of relationship building and time to share personal interests.
- Making sure your group "meshes" well. Having individual relationships with students before the group starts helps!
- Asking the students what they hope to gain by being a group member - give them a voice from the start!
- Having students who are good role models in that particular area be involved in the group as well.
==>Q3: What topics/themes have you used to bring students together into groups?
- Currently I run grade level social skills groups and larger grade level lunch bunches that have more of a classroom mtg feel.
- As a PPW I pull attendance groups. Important for kids to want to come to school.
- Next year I hope to start anger management, stress/anxiety, and self-esteem grps - notice the need more and more.
- I run social skills groups all year, also 6 wk Changing Families, Self-Esteem, Test Anxiety, New Students at start of year!
- Cute names can be used. FISH = Families in Sep Households. I use START- Student Test Anx Reduction Team. Elementaryfying!
- Positive communication, grief relief, study skills, self-esteem
- Bully prevention groups, peer mentors are some other themes.
- Kids with incarcerated parents. Music therapy. Just more ideas!
==>Q4: Have you co-led groups? If so, with whom? What was the benefit of co-facilitating?
- I interned with a music therapist working with children w/ autism--the effect it had on them was amazing!!
- I loved co facilitating! I worked on a grant so we had the staff to do so. Helps w/ group management.
- Benefits include helps to have an experienced partner facilitate and different perspective.
- Just ended two co-led groups. Benefits of one was male/female leader--great modeling of opposite sex healthy conversation.
- A classroom teacher co-facilitates my social skills grps with me - They are able to monitor if skills get carried over to recess.
- I co-facilitated with the speech therapist. Also, one of my special ed teacher colleagues may pop in soon!
- Social wrkr, psych, nurse. It's great to have more than one counseling style since the kiddos have such different personalities
- I co facilitate a lunch bunch with our CSE Secretary. She's crafty!
- I like to invite the next grade level tchrs to visit some grps at the end of year - eases fears and lets the kids ask questions.
- I co-facilitated w/ school social worker and school psychologist on an Elementary School Counseling grant.
- You never know who a child will connect with. I like the idea of involving diff staff members.
==>Q5: Does anyone have any favorite curricula, interventions, or projects to do in group? If so, please share!
- I used to do second step lessons to reinforce the second step skills.
- Students LOVE Superflex! Superheroes always get their attention. I made capes for them and wrote the Superflex Song on guitar.
- I do a Random Acts of Kindess group that is a BLAST as well as a 'fine dining' lunch group that works on manners!
- My favorite projects have been friendship bracelets and our Project Stop.
- I enjoy Lunch Bunch or Game Break with small groups.
- My 3rd gr girls club read and discuss the book about Chrissa the American girl doll about relational aggression - they love it.
- "Whoonu" is a GREAT get to know you game for grades 3+! I start every group with it!
- Some schools do Girls on the Run-small group esteem building.
- I have also been trying to incorporate using the smartboard in my group activities - its a work in progress!
==>Q6: How would you handle a student who gets defiant/angry during group and storms out?
- I check w/ student to see if they can return to class and meet the next day-then discuss how to effectively communicate in group.
- Notify admin, want to make sure student is safe, will follow up with student to re-connect.
- Processing with the group to make sure all feel safe.
- Other than make sure he got to where he was going ok, check in w him individually to process what happened.
- Our clinicians (and admin) wear walkies so people can be notified when kids storm off.
- Validate his/her feelings and see him/her individually to process and see where its coming from.
- I might break the group at that point to work w the student individually.
==>Q7: How would you handle a student who bursts into inconsolable tears during group?
- I have noticed that the other kids really step up and console each other when that happens -Share that they are not alone.
- Normalizing crying is a great start! Everyone cries, it's healthy release of emotion!
- Give them time to cry it out as well as space as needed, then let others share how they can possibly relate to their tears.
- Ask probing questions, elicit help from the group, offer support.
- Depends on the scenario. If group can support, great, if truly inconsolable, might be a crisis counseling session.
- I've noticed many kids and adults apologize when they cry, I love to remind them to never be sorry for tears.
==>Q8: What formal/informal tools do you utilize to measure if your group goals were met?
- Exit tickets to have students restate what they accomplished is one way.
- Having the students set goals at the beginning and getting their feelings after. Have to make sure goals are obtainable!
- Pre and post-tests, learner surveys, Hard data-referrals, grades, attendance, classroom behavior...
- Talking to parents and teachers to get their observations.
- Usually informal, student, teacher, parent report. But I have used pre post self report rating scales too.
- Pre and post info is important. Need to establish a baseline to determine growth. Surveys are helpful.
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