45. Using Data In Your 2nd Semester Programming

In this enlightening episode, we are taking a look into the often overlooked yet crucial aspect of school counseling – data-driven practices.

As we head into the second semester in the chilly February of New York, I share my journey and insights on harnessing data to enhance student growth and success.

Key Topics Covered:

  1. The Importance of Data in School Counseling: I discuss why, even though data analysis can seem daunting or tedious, it’s essential for effective program planning and intervention.
  2. Data Collection for RAMP Application: Insight into the process and significance of collecting data for the RAMP (Recognized ASCA Model Program) application, highlighting its role in program development.
  3. Practical Strategies for Data Management: I share actionable methods and tools for collecting and analyzing data, emphasizing the need for a purposeful approach.
  4. Time Management and Time Audits: Understanding the significance of conducting time audits to optimize counselor efficiency and program effectiveness.
  5. Utilizing Data for Program Improvement: Strategies to leverage data for enhancing counseling programs, including examples such as initiating peer mediation programs and community circles.
  6. Aligning Counseling Goals with School Objectives: Discussion on how data can help align counseling program goals with overall school goals for a cohesive strategy.
  7. Real-life Applications and Success Stories: I share anecdotes and examples from my own experience, illustrating the impact of data-driven decision-making in school counseling.

 Resources Mentioned:

School Counselor Time Tracker




Carol: You're listening to the counselor chat podcast, a show for school counselors looking for easy to implement strategies, how to tips, collaboration, and a little spark of joy. I'm Carol Miller, your host. I'm a full time school counselor and the face behind counseling essentials. I'm all about creating simplified systems, data driven practices, and using creative approaches to age students. If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you make a big impact.

Carol: On student growth and success, you're in the right place because we're better together. Ready to chat?

Carol: Let's dive in.

Carol: Hi, everyone. It's Carol Miller, your host for Counselor chat. Thank you for joining me today on our episode today. I just want to dive right in there. It is winter in New York, it's February, and we are really headed into our second semester. I know some of you have already started your second semester, but we are really just beginning ours. And so that means it's time for us to really dig into our data and look at that data and use it to drive the programming and the interventions that we put in place for this semester. Now, I know on the podcast I don't talk about data very often. And let's be honest, data is not always fun. It's not the hoohoo. I can't wait to dig in and get going with it today. And I know that there are a lot of self proclaimed data nerds, data geeks out there, but to be honest, I am not one of them. Raise your hand if you're right there with me. I see them going up even though I'm looking at a blank screen on my computer. But I can just tell that I am not alone because it just seems like it's one extra thing to do in our already jam packed day. I will also be the first to say that I know how important data is for our program. Now, I think I've mentioned several times in the podcast that my co counselor and I, we are looking to put together a ramp application. In fact, we're in the process of putting our application together, all the pieces and components so that we can submit this application in October of 2024. So next school year. And if you aren't aware, ramp is kind of like a three year process. There's really a lot that's involved in it, and there is a lot of data collection that you have to do. So let's talk about some of this data, how we're going to use it, and why. If you're not doing anything, you should try it because it can really change a lot of things in your program. Now, let's face it, data can be really daunting. Collecting it, downloading the reports, finding the time to do it all. But the one thing I know to be really true is that sometimes you have to slow down a little bit in what you're doing so that you can speed up in the end. And what I mean by that is sometimes you have to put that time into your schedule. You have to wipe other things out, take a break from it, slow down, and just dive into the things that you know can move the needle in your program's growth and success rates. So as you do this, you really need to start defining what the essential data is for your program. And you also have to have purposeful collection. So you have to have a good approach to how you collect your data. So the methods, the tools of what you're going to be putting together now, there are a lot of different pieces that you can go with this. So first, you might want to take a look at your time and how you're utilizing your time. Because if you're thinking about ramp, you need to have two collections, two weeks of how you spend your time and the breakdown of your time in each semester. So one for the fall semester and one for the spring semester. So if you are looking at that process, you need to really pick a week and do a time audit. I have a time audit that I could share with you. ASCA has some time audits. Mine is kind of pretty, but it really follows the ASCA one. And I'll share those with you. You just want to pick a regular week, not one where you're doing test prep or you're proctoring exams, or you're out at a conference or there's PD days, but you want a full solid week of what you typically do on a day to day basis. And you just want to see where your time is spent. The time audits are actually really easy because you just are looking at what you did during the day. And if you keep a calendar, hopefully you do like I do. It was pretty easy to say, oh, I did this, this and this, and you're basically putting it into half hour blocks or 15 minutes blocks, so you don't have to have for three minutes. I spent time scrolling, looking at my emails, email really quickly before I ran to a classroom. It's not that specific and you don't need to be that specific, but you do need to kind of break it down together and show what it is you're doing during the day. You also, might want to start looking at your report card data. What are the kids that are kind of struggling in class, not just academically, but with their social emotional needs in the elementary school? We definitely have a spot on there for social emotional awareness, and it's a really great way to see what the teachers are seeing. And I'll be honest, I'm surprised at how many kids will show up with needing improvement, and their teachers have never talked to me about the problems that they were having in class. But when I ran the report, I was like, wow, we have to address some of these things. So looking at some of those reports can be pretty eye opening as well, of course, as the kids that are struggling academically, because maybe you want to pull those kids and start a study skills group or an organization group or a test prep type of group, or have some lessons in the classroom on that, or maybe even motivation or prioritizing and goal setting. So that information can be really critical for driving some instruction, as well as preventative things or interventions for kids that are really struggling. Other things that you can really start to look at are the behavior data. And I know for us with our goals that we have for our program and looking at ramp, all of our goals really focus this year around improving our discipline rates and the kids that are being sent out of class. So we are really targeting that and trying to make improvements in that area of our school program. So we have started a whole bunch of things based on that data. We started community circles, which really have been great. I'm starting a peer mediation program and training peer mediators that will be starting this semester. It took me a long time to find a program and create one that I thought would work really well for our kids. And so I'm really excited to start training my mediators so that they can also start to resolve conflicts as they come up and really train students in our school to become leaders. The other things that we have done are really centered some of our classroom lessons around empathy. We are really putting a lot more effort into empathy. Last year, we did a lot of lessons on emotions and emotional regulation and coping skills, but this year we've kind of shifted it a little bit, and we've talked about identity and perspectives and kindness. We are seeing that those things are making a difference as well. But the data that we're collecting, it's pretty easy to look at because we're simply pulling reports of data that really is there already. It's in a system. We just have to pull it out, and you can do that for academic progress, test scores, attendance, behavioral data, and those social emotional trends. So the data can really inform your program. The other thing is to really start leveraging your data for your program improvement and to support students. When you have this data in hand, it really makes for a great talking piece if you want to start something new. So for me, I really wanted to do that training for peer mediators. I really wanted to start a peer mediation program. We've never had one before, and I thought, wow, this could be really great for our kids. We just started the community circles. But using the data and saying, look at the number of kids that we have that have behavioral incidences, that have disciplinary actions taken on them, if we try these things, we might be able to make a huge difference here. So let's look at some different programs. Let's look at some different ways that we can address this. And that's a really good talking point. When you're meeting with your admin and you're really trying to say, wow, if I spent more time doing this, it might actually be beneficial, because those are school goals as well. Not just our counseling program goals, but goals that our school wants to improve on as a whole. And I think that's the thing when you are doing ramp or you're looking at your counseling program, is that you really want your counseling program goals to match what your building goals are. I mean, they don't have to match 100%, but you do want them around a similar theme, because it makes the advocating for programs that you want or ideas that you have a lot easier to do. It was also pretty easy to say, you know what, some of our discipline referrals, this is the area that's coming up. What if we did some more work with identity and inclusion? How can we bring that into our school? And what are some other ways and ideas? So we have an inclusion team, and we talk about different ways that we can make sure that we're incorporating all students, not just some, but all students within our school community. And what are programs that we can do that highlight some of our students that typically don't get highlighted? So we have done some pretty unique things. We're already planning on a day to celebrate neurodiversity and trying to figure out some really cool programs that we can bring that highlights that need, because we are also finding that we have a lot of students that are neurodiverse. And guess what? We're finding the behavior data and disciplinary actions are a little bit higher sometimes with them than their peers. So we really want to make sure that we're doing what we can to address that. So one of the things, and it's funny because we just had our inclusion meeting today, and we're talking about these different ideas that we have to have students understand students that are neurodiverse and what it means. And we talked about maybe an interactive bulletin board where we can find some famous people that themselves were neurodiverse and had struggles and show what their successes are. So kind of like, I'll lift the flap type of thing. Like this is who a little bit. This is my biography. Try to guess who I am. When you open it up, then there's the person. So we're doing things like that as well as some activities where we're trying to model it as if someone was neurodivergent. So we're doing a lot of different things there, and that all comes from data. One of the great things, too, about data is you can really use it for that collaboration and that communication. It's helpful to be able to talk to other educators and parents or stakeholders based on what insight the data has and how you can really create meaningful supports for students. So in terms of data, you don't have to have all these programs and tools that are super complicated to use. Just use what you already have. Run the reports of programs that are already in existence. You might want to collect a few other things, too. Like if you are trying to work with a teacher on a particular student, you might want to have some sort of data as what's going on in the classroom. There maybe a little check sheet of their behaviors so that you can find what specific behaviors need to be addressed. But for the most part, it's already out there being collected. Somehow. You just have to take a look at it and analyze it and put it to use in your program. And like I said, you don't have to spend tons of time on it, but you do have to incorporate time in your day to look at it. And when we do that, I think you'll find that things will start really coming into play. Some of the other things that I really like to look at are referrals and how many referrals did we get for the school year? Or how many risk assessments did we do? Or how many calls to cps have we made? How many students have we done career lessons with? Or how many career lessons have we had? How many minutes of our weeks did that take? With a little multiplication, you can easily add up the minutes for those things. You can also look at your own groups and see is there progress being made in our groups. A little evaluation pre post test. Those are great things to look at as well. So this is the time, my friends, to take a look at all that data and really use it to incorporate your ideas into your lessons, your groups, and maybe even your tier three supports. So I hope that this was helpful. And if you are thinking about doing ramp in the future, really take a few minutes and get a time analysis and start tracking your time. Because once we start tracking our time, you can find out, am I really spending as much time as I need to with students or am I spending a lot of my time doing all these other things? And once again, that's great data to share. So let me know how you're using data because I would love to hear about it. And maybe we can even have you on an upcoming counselor chat podcast. Well, my friends, until next time, have a great week. Oh, and before I go, let's say I will post some links in the show notes so that you can grab that time analysis and maybe even some of the other little data collection sheets that I use in my program. Anyway, friends, until next time. Bye for now.

Carol: Thanks for listening to today's episode of Counselor Chat. All of the links I talked about can be found in the show notes and@counselingessentials.org podcast. Be sure to hit, follow or subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And if you would be so kind.

Carol: To leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.

Carol: Want to connect? Send me a DM on Facebook or Instagram at counseling essentials until next time. Can't wait till we chat. Bye for now.