Are you a school counselor at a high school that doesn’t believe in small groups? Is your administration against the facilitation of small groups? Do you get push back from your teachers? I bet you’re wondering how to successfully introduce small group counseling to your school… without shaking things up TOO much!
In order to get all of your ducks in a row to successfully start running your small groups, check out these steps to begin changing the culture of your school around this idea.
Here are 3 ideas to start running high school small groups from scratch… in case you’re at a school where there is push back against small groups or you’ve just never taken the time to do them before! It’s time to introduce small group counseling to your high school students and your high school setting!
1- Make sure your staff understands your role as a school counselor.
As you share with them your responsibilities as a school counselor, be sure to explain small group counseling as a part of this. They may not be against small group counseling, but they just might not understand the benefits for students and the school community. Use this presentation to help explain your roles and responsibilities to your staff!
I’ve found that the more clearly I communicate with teachers and administrators about small group counseling, the stronger the support for small groups grows. I always keep teachers in the know about student attendance to my group and emphasize that students are responsible for making up any work they missed from class. Once teachers realize the value of the skills that students can gain and use in their classroom setting, they are often more excited to support small group counseling endeavors.
If you’re looking to introduce small group counseling to your high school’s stakeholders, it may just be as easy as TELLING them about the groups and their benefits! Don’t knock it until you try it!
2- Use data to identify the gaps you are trying to fill, and show the need before you introduce small group counseling to your school.
Start with a needs assessment to identify some overall trends and needs in your student population. Use the results to select the right students for your tier 2 small group counseling services. (You could also collect data from students when you’re doing classroom lessons.) When you’ve selected the right students to invite to your group, you’ll have an easier time getting their buy-in.
Is small group counseling just a far off dream right now? Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to holding successful, meaningful, and data-driven small group counseling services at your high school!
3- Share your pre and post data with your stakeholders.
Start small! Run one small group, and collect data before and after to measure your students’ growth. Here is a spreadsheet I created with pre-populated formulas to quickly and easily summarize small group data. No excuses for not knowing how to use data to compel your audience!
I always share out data from small groups to AT LEAST the teachers who let me borrow students from their classes and all administrators. Administrators are driven by data. If you can use data to show the effectiveness of your groups, you will gain some raving fans to your school counseling team.
Save your data to share with your school counseling advisory committee, too! Data is a KEY piece to the puzzle when you’re trying to introduce small group counseling and get others on your team.
You may surprise yourself and make strides on incorporating small groups into your school counseling program even if it’s a slow build up. Soon enough, your school and your students will be reaping the benefits of a strong small group counseling program!
Pick one small group to start in your school and move forward from there! Here are some small group resources from my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you need some ideas for where to start!
If you liked this blog post, check out Episode 8 of High School Counseling Conversations, my high school counseling podcast! This episode is all about “Finding Success in High School Counseling Small Groups Before You Even Start.”