- Define in own words
- Use in a sentence
- Text to self connection
Looking for a way to explore character traits using sound vocabulary tools and align with ELA standards? Sound good to be true? You can do it! I've created a courage booklet that incorporates the vocabulary tools :
Interested in more character ed materials? I plan to make books for all of the character traits included in my Kids of Characters Posters.
Do you feel pulled in 100 different directions each school year? Do you start the year with the best laid plans but end the year wondering where the time went? Today, we are going to talk about using Program Goals within the ASCA National Model to focus your work. Think work smarter, not harder. Check out my video tutorial.
Today we are going to learn about creating Program Goals to guide your work. Sometimes the idea of collecting data and working toward concrete goals can seem like an unnatural fit for school counselors. In fact, the opposite is true. Caseloads are large and there is always more to do than time to do it. Program goals help to focus your work so that you and your department are using your time the most wisely.
Program goals are written in SMART format. They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and time bound. The goal statement should be clear and concise. You do not need to explain your goal or include how you are going to work to obtain the goal. Program goals are always centered around outcome data. Outcome data is achievement, attendance, and behavior data. Other data like pre/post tests or needs assessments may inform the outcome goal but the primary focus of the goal should be outcome data.
The first step in writing your program goals is to look at the priorities of the school. The school improvement plan is a great place to start. If you do not sit on your school improvement team, you can read the written plan or make an appointment with an administrator or other building leader to discuss the SIP plan. It’s important for the school counselor to think about how their work will inform the overall goals of the school. For example, if achievement is a school priority, the counselor might work with students on academic skills, appropriate scheduling, or class attendance.
The second step is to disaggregate data and look at achievement, attendance, and behavior discrepancies by subgroup or category. Subgroup gaps could be by race or ethnicity, grade, gender, etc. Needs may also be identified by category like a specified number of absences, or office discipline referrals for a certain behavior. Work with your school counseling or student support services department to prioritize and select needs to address this school year. If you are solo at your school, consider making an appointment with your administrator to discuss the focus of your program goals. Not only will this ensure your administrator’s support, it is good advocacy for your role when your administrator sees how school counseling supports the needs of the school identified by the School Improvement Plan.
The final step is to dig deeper and see what is contributing to your need, gap, or concern. For instance, if you were researching a program goal about attendance, you would want to find out more about why a certain class or grade level has a high number of absences. Sometimes this digging deeper gives you information to inform your goal and sometimes you dig deeper to find that a counseling intervention or strategy is not likely to support the goal. Remember, you are writing program goals to focus your work. If it’s not the best use of your time, move on.
Finally, you are ready to write your SMART goal! ASCA has a great SMART goal template on their website, which I have linked in the notes. This template really helps you to focus your goal and make sure that it meets the SMART criteria. A couple of tips before we begin looking at a program goal example:
Let’s look at an example of the process for creating a program goal. At Morris Elementary, the school improvement team has identified 4th and 5th grade test scores as an area of focus.
The school counselor knows anecdotally that teachers have been concerned that students who were on grade level in class did not pass the end of grade test. She works with school leadership to create a spreadsheet with the previous year’s final grades and end of grade test scores. She is able to sort by final grades to identify which students were on grade level and then looks at test scores. When she has looked at the data, she has identified 25 students to target. She identifies her target group as students who were on grade level for the final report card in the previous year and did not pass the end of grade test.
After identifying her target group, our school counselor digs deeper by discussing the targeted students with their classroom teachers and instruction support teachers. She learns that some of these students are very anxious on test days and some need better test taking skills. She decides that she can implement strategies to support these students within her role as a school counselor.
Our school counselor uses the ASCA template to help her write her goal:
By June, 60% of students who were on grade level for 3rd quarter report card in the previous year and did not pass the end of grade test will score a 3 or higher on the end of grade test for the current year.
A level 3 is the passing rate for our Morris Elementary end of grade test. Notice that she hasn’t stated what exactly she is going to do. That’s OK! There are other ways to document her activities. In fact, many activities will support this goal. She may have some curriculum lessons that will support students in the test taking skills. She might implement a group to help these targeted students. She might call parents to encourage their support. For program goals, we are describing activities, we are focusing on outcomes on which the program will focus efforts.
Now let’s check our SMART-ness
SPECIFIC – What do we specifically want to achieve – we want students to pass their end of grade test.
MEASURABLE – is it measurable? Yes, student achievement is measured by the end of grade test.
ACHIEVABLE – is it a reasonable goal? Because the students in our target group are all on grade level in class, having a majority of them pass the test seems reasonable. The first year that you create a goal, you might be taking an educated guess. As you fine tune and tweak your goal next year, you might have more information about what amount is achievable. Later, we’ll look at schoolwide goals to see how their percentage changes differ.
RELEVANT – Is it relevant? We know that the goal is tied to our school’s SIP plan and we also know that it uses outcome data (achievement).
TIME BOUND – Yes, we see that the goal will be achieved by June of the current year. In reality, we would include a year along with the month.
High School Example
Let’s walk through a High School example to see a broader program goal.
At Brook High School, the SIP plan had discussed the importance of 9th grade promotion and the ultimate goal of graduating on time. The SIP team created a schoolwide goal to increase 9th grade promotion.
The school counseling team looked at the 9th grade promotion rates and saw that a higher number of African American males and Hispanic/Latino males had been retained than any other subgroup. At Brook High, there were about 175 African American and Hispanic male students in their 9th grade class.
After identifying their target group (African American and Hispanic males), the counseling team dug deeper to identify areas of need. Looking at school climate survey data, they saw that African American and Hispanic males were less likely to identify a staff member that they connected to. In speaking with the 9th grade teachers, they learned that many teachers were concerned about students’ study skills. The counseling team decides they can implement strategies to support these students within their role as school counselors.
By June, Student Services will increase the 9th grade promotion rate for African American and Hispanic/Latino males from 80% to 85%.
Again, we haven’t shared the methods that school counselors plan to use to achieve these goals. Counselors will document their methods on the curriculum plan, group plans, or closing the gap plans as appropriate.
The final step to writing your program goals is to share them. You can share your goals with your principal in your annual agreement, with your advisory council, and post on your website. This is a great advocacy tool for your school counseling program. When your stakeholders hear that you are effecting passing rates, academic achievement, attendance, or behavior referrals, they will see the crucial role that school counselors play in the education of all students.
I am thrilled to host Keith Deltano from Don't Bully Online for a guest post on cyber bullying today. A serious comedian, Keith is a winner of the teaching excellence award for his work with at risk students and the national impact award for his parent outreach and education efforts. He is the creator of the anti bullying curriculum, “The Complete Anti Bullying Kit.” Keith has served and worked with youth as a public school teacher, private counselor, strength coach, and US Army Airborne Military Police Officer. We are also hosting a GIVEAWAY, details at the end of the post.
The calls have come in, accusations made, screenshots presented, and now you have students in your counseling office that do not fully understand the potential consequences of social media abuse and cyber bullying. What do you say them?
Misuse of You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr by teens has resulted in long term suspension, expulsion, suicide, and criminal charges…and that’s the short list. As a school counselor, one of your jobs is to help your students make good decisions regarding social media. This abuse is not limited to teens. As a nationally touring anti bullying speaker, I have met elementary school principals that have had to suspend students for making racist, hateful, and threatening comments on social media sites.
It's the Law
All 50 states have passed HIB (Harassment Intimidation and Bullying) laws and school systems are struggling to comply. The aggressiveness of these laws varies from state to state. In many states, school administrators are required to contact law enforcement when racist, threatening, or pornographic imagery is included in a student’s post. I’ve met students that have lost full boat scholarships because something they posted on Instagram resulted in criminal charges. Once again, this is not limited to middle and high school students. I’ve met parents at my workshops that have elementary school students involved with criminal HIB investigations.
Students and parents have all heard of cyber bullying, the suicides that have occurred because of it, and the dangers of social media abuse. What I have learned in my travels is that very few students and parents have made a concrete connection between all the media coverage of cyber bullying and their own personal behavior. Students may have a vague idea that cyber bullying is wrong, few understand they may pay a heavy price for engaging in it. In other words, they may expect a lecture and even suspension, but few seem to understand expulsion and a criminal record can be around the bend. We in education have spent a great deal of time speaking with each other about social media, not so much with students. This has to change.
Permanent, Prosecutable, and Painful
I focus on defining and retaining three words students can relate to social media and cyber bullying: permanent, prosecutable, and painful. These three concepts can be applied in a one on one conversation in your office or a school wide activity. To maintain consistency, include the words in every assembly, discussion, poster contest, presentation, parent conference, PTA meeting, anti bullying pledge, student handbook, or school website article you create that addresses cyber bullying and social media. Either way, we want to make sure students understand social media abuse is permanent, prosecutable, and painful.
As I’m sure you are aware, students will not retain all of what you say to them, they are, however, able to retain key concepts when they are consistently connected to memorable keywords or phrases. Think: “stop, drop, and roll.” Let’s take a look at permanent, prosecutable, and painful to see how you could include them in your anti cyber bullying efforts. Your presentation and materials could include these points:
What you send out there is permanent, you cannot get it back, and it will be out there forever. For example, if you post an inappropriate image of yourself out there on Instagram, you will have to deal with the image’s existence for the rest of your life. If you make an inappropriate comment and post it on social media, you will have to deal with the consequences for a long time. You cannot control the life of a post, tweet, image, text, or email. Businesses and colleges conduct background checks on applicants. They will check out who you are online. You may not be able to get into college because of something you posted to social media years earlier.
Inappropriate social media behavior is prosecutable by law enforcement agencies. Not only can you be suspended from school, you can be charged with a crime. If prosecuted for cyber bullying, you will be charged with a misdemeanor that will be on your juvenile record until you are eighteen. As mentioned before, employers and colleges conduct background checks on their applicants. You may be unable to get a job because of something you posted on Snapchat. You may be unable to get a college scholarship because you tweeted a racial or threatening comment. If you are prosecuted for online harassment or cyber bullying, the record of that prosecution will stay with you and limit your options until you are eighteen. If what you do with social media is serious enough to result in a felony charge, it may stay on your record for the rest of your life. Your future could be radically changed by one text, tweet, or post.
You can cause a lot of pain with one hateful post. Do you want to be responsible for hurting another person? Do you want to be responsible for another human being harming themselves in any way as a result of something you posted? You have no way of knowing the emotional state of the person you are victimizing. Your social media actions may have consequences that cannot be reversed. The anger you feel when you post something hateful may not last, the harm you cause may be permanent.
Sending the Message
As a school counselor, you already have lessons and activities that address cyber bullying and social media safety. Simply work permanent, prosecutable, and painful into them. Most of the materials I’ve reviewed on cyber bullying are “light” and they simply do not bring home the severity of the consequences or the damage that can be done when social media is abused. Use these three words to make your anti cyber bullying efforts more impactful, especially with older students. Work to get the whole staff on board with this language.
You can reduce cyber bullying and online drama at your school. It will take a very focused and targeted effort using specific language. If the students hear it enough, in the same language, with the same consequences, by all their leadership, the message will get through.
Thanks so much for posting with us Keith! I think the message you drive home is really powerful. We can't just tell students that cyberbullying is inappropriate, we have to help them to learn the consequences for themselves and others. Keith has generously offered to give away TWO Anti-Bullying Resource Kits away. To enter, comment below with how your school addresses cyberbullying. Winners will be announced here on Monday, February 20th.
UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed, our winners are Laurel and Gretchen. Congrats!
TpT has announced a February sale - starting tomorrow you can get 28% off everything in my store. Perfect time to stock up on some bundles. To celebrate, I am giving away a $10 TPT Gift Card. To win, comment below with your favorite product from the store. You can also enter on Facebook and Instagram.
National School Counseling Week is coming up next week. I can't wait to celebrate. I plan to keep up with ASCA's Photo Challenge. You can also read about what I've done in my schools or laugh at some funny memes. What are some meaningful ways you celebrate school counseling week?
Welcome to my blog where I talk about all things school counselor and encourage others to Counselor Up!