One of the biggest roadblocks to running high school counseling small groups with students (besides lack of time) is getting these students bought in. How do you find the right students for the groups? Once you’ve found them, how do you get them excited to participate? Once you run a few small groups, you’ll be able to come up with plenty of ways to master the student invitation conversation. Until then, here are some tips to get you started.
Check out these 4 ideas for getting student buy-in for high school counseling small groups.
1- Focus on the relationships before building your high school counseling small groups.
If you have a strong presence in your school to begin with, students will be more willing to listen to your proposition of a small group. It makes a lot more sense for a student to step out of their comfort zone towards someone who has already earned a little bit of their trust. Just showing up in the halls, in the cafeteria, and even at sporting events/musical performances/art shows will position you to earn the right to be heard when you have something to say.
2- Have a social media presence.
When you exist in the social media space, you’re automatically entering students’ worlds. Start by creating an Instagram page for your school counseling department. Use it to advertise events, opportunities, and scholarships. Post and interact on your IG stories and keep a pulse on the vibe of students/the school. Show that your school’s counselors are humans, too! It does not need to be where you spend all of your time (especially your precious downtime outside of work)! Just having some real estate here can keep you informed and up-to-date.
3- Remember student names.
I wrote an entire blog post on this topic here. Names are invaluable. Students feel known and cared for when you remember their names and pronounce them correctly. It has always been something I have worked hard at because I see the benefits pay off immensely (and I love my students… so why not)! Your presence on social media (from tip number three) will probably help you remember names and connect students to friends groups as well.
4- Communicate the benefits of small groups.
When it comes time to pitch a small group to a student, let them know a) what a small group is, b) what’s in it for them, c) why you think they would be perfect for it, and d) what they would bring to the group. Build their confidence to join the group, and help ease anything they might be uncomfortable with. If you do a needs assessment ahead of time to gauge student interest, you can start with students who mentioned they were interested and remind them about the survey they completed. Many high school students have never participated in a counseling small group before!
Best of luck as you manage those introductory small group conversations. You will have the right students in your group before you know it!
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