Sociometrics and School Counselors: Changing the Classroom Environment

I wanted to share something that has me all revved up and excited. It's called Sociometrics! I know the name doesn't sound as nearly as exciting as it could, but I promise you that this is a school-changer. 

First, you may be wondering what Sociometrics is. Sociometry is the quantitative study of interpersonal relationships in populations, especially the study and measurement of preferences. 

By collecting data from each member of a particular population, an educator has the ability to acquire information that illustrates students who are either well-liked, disliked, or ignored. This data is often put into a Sociogram, which is a map of all these relationships. 
Sociograms provide invaluable information that when used correctly, can positively impact the dynamics of a classroom and pinpoint students who are in need of extra care. Further, this self-reporting data could be used as a universal screening tool for the educator to quantify social change, perhaps through character education or other positive behavior systems.  

I was able to use this for a large population of students, creating maps for each individual homeroom in a middle school grade level, and the grade level as a whole.

The information we acquired confirmed and revealed students who we knew we needed to help. Not only were individual students impacted by this information, but classroom dynamics as well since teachers were able to focus on the links that needed extra care.

For the future, I foresee this as something that homeroom teachers can have done, or do themselves, as a pre-test/post-test. In addition, it helps the School Counselor have a clear holistic picture of the students in their school. For example, as we are forming classes next year, this is information that can help us  stay proactive in avoiding high conflict relationships.

Since we are so used to being with individuals and or groups we hardly see what is happening holistically - this program helps change our perspective.

I also believe that a Sociogram can help identify gaps that have been created within the system - whether those are cultural, racial, gender, etc. and help focus your School Counseling program on closing those gaps. This is perfect for School Counselors as we make our programs align to ASCA Standards.

One of the elements that makes collecting information for your own Sociogram is an almost free tool that I found called Walsh's Classroom Sociometrics. This program instantly does all the work for you, and is very easy to use. I would highly suggest downloading this program for your use if you plan on creating a Sociogram.

In a nutshell, you will take about 15 minutes of a classes time asking them two to four questions. They might sound something like this:

1) Who is someone you prefer to sit next to in the classroom?
2) Who is someone you prefer to sit next to in your entire grade level?
3) Who is someone you would not prefer to sit next to?

They will choose up to four people for each question. I used a form that looks like this:

It is important that they put a first and last name for each response as that will make it much easier for you while entering in data. 

From here, you will enter the data into your program and will receive the results.

Let me know if you have any questions about how this all works, and I would be glad to help you. I believe that this is truly an underutilized tool that could really help change the schoolscape.

Creating an Assembly for State Testing

I am breaking radio silence over here... finally. And what better way then talking about our state assessments we are in the middle of and how we get our kids ready?

For the last three years, I have been part of our coordination team for state assessments. Though it takes a lot of work, I am actually quite glad that I play the role that I do as it gives me an opportunity to support our school. I mean, after all, the school pretty much shuts down when we go into testing mode. 

Either way, I have picked up the opportunity to create and run the assembly. We have done a challenge theme, a western cowboy theme, and this year we did....


At least, that's what we did for our 3rd through 5th graders. I will share the presentation I used for our Middle School. Our teachers requested something a little less cheese and little more inspirational.  

Above, I have included the very simple order of events that we followed for the assembly. Basically, I recruited three teachers to become superheros, along with our ever present TCAP Man, who is our School Principal. 

TCAP Man made sure to do some pre-interviews to see what kind of things our recuits had done to prepare themselves for the superhero obstacle course. 

The obstacle course was pretty simple, and created to illiustrate just a few things we wanted our younger test takers to remember. Boris was our "delinquent" and did everything wrong. 

The other fun element we did at then end was a "Spirit Stick". When I was in high school, we had such a stick that we would use at our pep rallies to see who had the most pep between all the grade levels. I thought it would be fun to introduce it to the kids. Plus, it's a reason to scream and get really loud! 

You can make one however you want, but this is ours: 

Okay, if you are a MIDDLE SCHOOL counselor, assemblies like this may or may not work for your population. This year, we wanted to be a little bit more genuine with our kids and talk about WHY they should try at the test. Not fluff it up with pomp and circumstance. The reality is that our middle school kids take A LOT of tests. How can we encourage them with just this one more? 

I created a prezi for the MS teachers to use and launch a discussion off of to cover what is really important about state tests - or really life in general. Check it out!  

A Spoonful of Sweetness

I am so excited to be a stop in Maria Dismondy's Blog Tour for her, just released, book, A Spoonful of Sweetness. In fact, it comes at a perfect time to read a book such as this, because my husband and I are expecting our own little one in June!

This adorable board book was created for our younger kiddos in mind. I really like what Maria says about the creation of this book, "I believe early intervention can help equip our children with important skills that are needed to deal with social situations at school." 

Not only does this book encourage early intervention, it empowers parents to do the intervening. I love that this book gives parents a simple, but effective way of teaching character traits that are important life skills. It talks about kindness, friendship, responsibility, empathy, respect, and courage.

It starts the conversation about what these traits are, and what they look like.

As School Counselors, I believe our job is to encourage our families to start teaching character at home. But more importantly, we must give them the tools. A Spoonful of Sweetness is one of those tools. Maria Dismondy has even provided families a quick tip sheet to go along with the book. You can check it out HERE.

If you want to see more about A Spoonful of Sweetness, watch the trailer below.