Introduce how you see your role with the student. Be friendly, positive and open-minded. Smile and maintain eye contact. Be respectful and culturally sensitive. Discuss their confidentiality.
Active Listening is easily remembered with the acronym OARS:
Open-Ended Qs (Ask Sensitive Questions w/ care. See below for examples of Open-Ended questions.)
Affirmations & Validation
Reflection (build from what the young person shares.)
Meet the student where they’re at. Be mindful of Their Agenda vs. Your Own, and that there’s no “one size fits all!” approach.
Tune into what they are saying explicitly and implicitly and go at their pace!
On a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being not likely at all and 10 being very likely—how likely are you to complete your homework, at least once this week?
On a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being awful and 10 being great—how is your day going today?
You could also insert humor and slang into the scale, as an opportunity to get on the same level as the student. For example,
On a scale of 1 to 10 - 1 being staying in pajamas looking at tik tok all day and 10 being YOLO - how are you feeling about the class trip?
On a Scale of 1 to 10, how hopeful are you that that number can be higher or, that things can improve?
What might it take for that number to be higher?
What makes you say that? or Could you say more about what took place to make you feel that way today?
If you could change anything about today, what might you change and why?
R- Resist telling the client what to do; avoid directing, or convincing them about the “right path.”
U- Understand their level of motivation, including their values, needs, abilities, and barriers.
L- Listen with empathy; seek to really understand their values and needs.
E- Empower! Work with the client to create SMART goals and to identify strategies to overcome barriers.
S - Specific. E.g., not just "homework", but "Science homework", or not just "once a week" but "every Wednesday."
M - Measurable. E.g., "Read 3 pages" or "bullet point three questions for your teacher tomorrow."
A - Achievable. E.g., "Perhaps we can raise your test score by 5 points."
R - Realistic. E.g., "If you have your after-school job from 4-7, and need to decompress when you get home, you can watch TV/play video games for 20 minutes, but set a timer and start when it goes off. Do you think you can do that?" Be realistic that sometimes schedules will not work out with moods and other factors, but offer tools to build toward the goal.
T - Time-bound. E.g., "Try doing the work on Wednesdays for a week, and next week we will add another day."