This is one of the texts in the series Motivational interviewing. We described the motivational interview (MI) and the main process of the MI conversation as well as more about step one: engaging and step two: evoking. If you want to learn more about it start from book Motivational interviewing in schools* which is also the main resource for these blog posts.
Planning emerges from the evoking and overlaps with it. As we mentioned in previous texts each phase of the MI is interrelated and as in any process, phases flow back and forward. When we talk with our students about what behavioral change (for example- finish the course, doing homework) we pay attention to stay engage in communication, to notice motivation towards change and to emphasize students’ strengths.
While evoking phase is about why we want to change, planning starts when we ask: What are you going to do about it? It is finding out what needs to be done and how.
As a teacher, we are good at making plans. It is easy for us to give ideas and advice. But we sometimes forget how strong ambivalence toward change and how fearful change may be.
In the planning phase it is important to be focused on: developing students’ autonomy (This is my plan), increasing relatedness (Talking to you is helpful) and strengthening and framing competences (You know this and here is how it is useful for your plan).
The planning phase is sometimes demanding for teachers since it requires to be beside the student and not jumping forward with our ideas and advice. It is useful to bear in mind that in this phase it is important to remind our students that it is ok to be afraid and try anyway and that mistakes are part of life.
Here are some guidelines for planning with students:
- Tell them that is ok to be ambivalent toward change
- Reinforce change talk
- Be beside them- don’t jump ahead of their readiness
- Check where is the student, what they are ready for- what they can do, what are the resources, what are the strengths.
- Use open-ended questions
- Focus on competencies, choice and specify, for example- What you know now that can help you to learn more? You may give up or continue, what will you choose? What will you do when you want to procrastinate?
- Tell them that everyone slips in the process of change and learning.
- Help them to anticipate barriers to success and create plans for overcoming it.
- Reinforce commitment- encourage students to share their plans, keep a record of success, celebrate success, etc.
* Rollnick, S., Kaplan, S. G., & Rutschman, R. (2016). Applications of motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing in schools: Conversations to improve behavior and learning. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press