It’s important for students, teachers, admin, and parents to be on the same page about the high school counseling small groups you’re running. If you want your small group to run smoothly from beginning to end, you must consider the systems and communication you’re putting into place with your main stakeholders before, during, and after your small group.
Here are some tips for communicating with your 3 main stakeholders while planning from your high school counseling small groups.
1- Parent Input on High School Counseling Small Groups
Are you thinking, “How do I connect with parents?” around high school counseling small groups? I’ve tried all sorts of different avenues to cover my bases with parents before a high school small group. First (what I learned in grad school), I sent “permission slips” home with students. With permission slips, I tried two ways: asking for approval/permission versus asking for an opt-out form if permission is NOT granted. With the former, I was always tracking down little pieces of paper that rarely made it back. If you must do this, I’d advise emailing or calling the parents, too.
If I received verbal confirmation, I just made note of it. I felt like permission was more vital for sensitive groups like grief.
Opt-out forms are just not my favorite at the high school level because a high school student will just NOT give it to their parents if they don’t want to participate… they’ll just avoid you altogether.
2- Teachers as Teammates in High School Counseling Small Groups
Teachers can be your most valuable teammates for a smooth functioning high school counseling small group. I make sure I over-communicate with teachers. I give them the rundown of the group and all of the details they’d ever need to know. I highlight what skills the student will develop in the group and how it will benefit the student once they are back in the class (and, therefore, how the teacher will benefit).
I give teachers all of the dates and times ahead of time when this student will be missing their class. (When the group starts, I give the teacher the benefit of the doubt, but I’m always at the phone ready to call and remind the teacher and student about our group meeting.) I put ownership on the student that “they will be responsible for any missed work.” I also tell the teacher that if they have any concerns about the student participating in general or coming to the group any specific week… to PLEASE let me know!
I am ALWAYS FOR straight-forward conversation rather than frustration. I want teachers to trust me as a professional. When school counselors and teachers are on the same page, groups can run smoothly and efficiently.
3- Administrators and Data in High School Counseling Small Groups
Administrators want to see the data behind small group counseling. I love using this Small Group Data Spreadsheet to speak in numbers to administrators to show that what I’m doing is effective or to show what I have learned in serving our students.
Data can speak so highly to your school counseling program! It not only educates others but also informs your next steps moving forward in the services you plan to provide to your students.
When all is said and done, I summarize this quantitative and qualitative data and send it to administrators and teachers. I also compile the information into an easy-to-read table or infographic and share it at the next school counseling advisory committee meeting.