Introduction: SSW Group Activities We Love
In this blog, I will share various group activities that I have found to be effective for students at different grade levels. The Google Slide (collected here in a short video) was created with current school social work students from Loyola University Chicago. In every slide, I share how each activity is linked to the Danielson Framework for teacher evaluation (more on that below), as well as the SEL standards established by CASEL.
Making A Good Environment For SSW Groups
I have found that it is important that the environment where you conduct the groups is inviting for students. The environment sets the tone and mood for students. When students walk into your office, they need to feel welcomed as well. Here’s what my office looks like at my school:
Additionally, according to the Danielson Framework for School Social Workers it is vital that school social workers create goals and objectives on how they are going to teach students a specific skill or therapeutic approach. We can do this with all of our groups, whether we do them in our office like I’m doing above, or in classrooms settings. To some extent, school social workers are also teachers and in many districts, are expected to follow the framework from the Danielson Model. Many times school social workers make the mistake of saying, “…but I’m not a teacher, how is this (e.g., academic instruction) applicable to me?” In the past, I have made that statement myself as well. Then I realized that in a school setting, school social workers need to have a comprehensive understanding of the Response to Intervention (RtI) Model, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Professional Learning Communities (PLC), Restorative Justice Practices, etc. These interventions and approaches make school social workers leaders in their areas of expertise. Hence, it is the job of the school social worker to teach their colleagues, students, and district on how to effectively implement and use these interventions and approaches to make a positive school culture; the behavior models are interrelated to academic work that students need to complete. Therefore, we can support our schools in many ways, but often the best way to deliver interventions that positively impact school culture is through group work!
The group activities I’ve shared here can be used in small groups at the Tier 2 Level or Tier 3 Level of the PBIS model under RtI. These activities are meant to ensure that students develop healthy relationships, self-regulation skills, self-awareness, social awareness, and responsible decision making skills.
If there are questions regarding the group activities, please free to reach out to me directly via Twitter @MetcalfMarjorie or through the School Social Work Network. My vision is to continue to share effective strategies to all school social workers; in addition to being a lot of fun to learn about and implement these group strategies, I believe it is my ethical duty to positively impact the school social work community by creating a positive platform where ideas are shared and embraced.