Except for a few changes and additions that may occur right up until the start of the small groups and maybe even after the start, we are ready to roll. Because of the sheer number of groups and the number of kiddos coming in and out of the office each week, it is imperative to stay "caught-up" and organized. Here is how I do that!
As I said above, it is really important to stay on top of things as these group weeks go by. Even though I have my session plans, I felt it was necessary to keep track, in one location, what I was doing with each group. Here is a picture of the session log sheet that I use for each group in which I copy back-to-back.
These sheets are pretty self-explanatory. I note if there is something that I didn't finish, any concerns, any learnings, student moments, etc. These sheets are key for when I complete the Follow-Up notes!
Then, using this 1/2" binder, I inserted holed plastic sheet covers in which to slip one sheet for each group. I bring this binder home nightly to complete this information.
Storing and managing all this "stuff" takes some thought. I do love to be organized and use cute stuff to do so -- these are the kinds of things that keep me happy:) So, this is what my storage system looks like during group time.
I have a large 3 ring binder for each day of the week. Inside each binder you will find a plastic pocket divider for each group (with the group name on each tab) which holds any worksheets or other paper materials I will need for that group session and usually a copy of the permission slip I sent home to parents/guardians. Behind each plastic divider are the session plans 3 hole punched and placed into the rings. You may be wondering why Friday's binder is pinkish-red....who doesn't look forward to a Friday?!?
All of the binders are housed on these metal shelves from Target. Also on the shelves, are bins that included other group materials and props I may need that do not fit into the binders. I usually put 2 groups worth of stuff into a bin each day - so I can grab it and have all of the things I need. I do get all this stuff ready before I leave school the evening before or before school starts the next morning. I do this because I may be running around like crazy before groups begin each day and I may not have time to get all of my materials ready before the kids are at my door.
When groups are finished for the year, I empty out and organize all of the group sheets in the binders and house those materials in portable hanging file folder boxes (one group per hanging file folder). This keeps all of my materials safe for the summer, it is easier to store, and easier to transport home to work on for summer projects.
Last year I decided that parents/guardians (maybe the referral source but always the permission granter) and teachers (usually the referral source) needed to know all of the the great things their children and students did/learned small group. Small support groups are not therapy groups -- they teach and practice skills, concepts, etc. So, I wrote a Follow-Up sheet for each student. Each sheet is group specific and is a 1/2 page in size (when holding an 8.5' x 11" sheet landscape) - 2 fit per page. The font is probably 10 font. Again, initially there is one page with two follow-up sheets on it for each group. I do not cut apart yet!
Contents of the Follow-Up Sheet
The follow up sheet reminds parents/guardians that they gave permission for their child _______ to participate in _______________ small group. I inform them how many group sessions were held and how many his/her child attended.
Next, I inform parents/guardians that there were various topics and skills taught and discussed during each session and I include a brief synopsis for each group session. By brief I mean that I number each session and list the activity/description (roughly 1-2 lines for each). I also tell them that I encouraged each child to go home after every session to teach their parents/guardians what they learned in group.
Then, I have a section for "Notes." In this section I hand-write comments on that child's group participation and involvement. I write about the positive observations and any areas that the child should continue to work on.
Finally, I include my phone number and encourage parents/guardians to give me a call to discuss further.
Distribution of Follow-Up Sheets
I take each groups 8.5 x 11" group sheet and make copies - enough so I have one slip of each of the group's participants. I hand-write out each sheet while it is still 2 per page. Next, I make two copies of each sheet for a total of 3 sheets per student (one original, one copy, and one copy). Now I cut apart.
The original is sent home to parents via students. I fold it over and staple the ends - addressing to the student's parents from me.
One copy is given to the classroom teacher via the teacher's mailbox.
One copy is for my records. FYI - I have had to refer to these a lot over the past year.
I hope these two posts on how I run small support groups were valuable to you - maybe you found some ideas to test out in your own schools. While the planning is vast and the work to carry all this out is tremendous - the benefits certainly outweigh all of that.
Happy Small Group-ing!!