Welcome to today’s episode of The Communication Solution podcast with Casey Jackson, John Gilbert and Danielle Cantin. We love talking about Motivational Interviewing, and about improving outcomes for individuals, organizations, and the communities that they serve.
Today we are talking about applying motivational interviewing in educational settings, particularly in schools. We discuss the challenges faced by teachers and school systems, emphasizing the importance of effective communication and the potential impact it can have on students.
In this episode, we discuss:
- Back to School Season: The relevance of motivational interviewing in the context of the back-to-school season, addressing the needs of teachers and students alike.
- Diversity of Training Audience: The conversation touches on the wide range of educational settings where motivational interviewing has been applied, from Headstart programs to university-level classes.
- Pressure on Teachers: The hosts acknowledge the increased pressures on teachers in modern times, including issues like shootings, lockdowns, and the pervasive influence of social media.
- Compliance vs. Behavior Change: The discussion emphasizes the distinction between compliance models and behavior change models in education, exploring their respective roles and limitations.
- Empowering Teachers: The hosts express the need to empower teachers with effective communication skills to foster behavior change and values-based decision-making.
- Impact on Students: The conversation emphasizes that motivational interviewing, even in small doses, can make students feel heard, understood, and more open to discussing their challenges.
- Hope and Personal Agency: The hosts discuss the importance of instilling hope and a sense of personal agency in both teachers and students, enabling them to believe in their capacity to effect positive change.
- Desperation in Education: The conversation touches on the desperation felt by educators, who often grapple with limited resources, time constraints, and challenges in managing a diverse range of students.
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This is part two of a two-part podcast. Thank you for listening to the Communication Solution Podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. As always, this podcast is all about you. If you have questions, thoughts, topic suggestions, or ideas, please send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more resources, feel free to check out ifioc.com.
Want a transcript? See below!
Hello, and welcome to the communication solution podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. I’m your host, Danielle Cantin. We love to talk about communication. We love to talk about solutions, and we love to talk about providing measurable results for individuals, organizations.
And I am your facilitator of the communication solution podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. Hey guys. Hey, how are you doing? I think that an awesome topic for us to cover today is it’s back to school season. And I know that both of you teach motivational interviewing and have taught many teachers and school systems.
So as we’re all diving back into that season, and I know so many teachers and there’s so many struggles and everybody wanting to do the right thing, the best thing for our students of the world. I thought I’d turn it over to you to see how does motivational interviewing, how can that help or assist teachers, school systems?
What’s your experience been in that realm? I mean, there’s so many things that strike me, you know, I think we’ve been pretty lucky with the diversity of what we’ve been able to work with. I mean, as soon as I even start talking about this, first thing I think of is we have gone as young as. Headstart and early headstart programs and doing training for them all the way through John, just a couple of weeks ago, just to train last week, did a training at the university level, you know, so John, they do college classes as well.
So from that whole student perspective, it’s, it’s pretty fascinating. It always comes down to, you know, I think the pressure and the struggle that teachers wrestle with, I think in this day and age of, you know, shootings and lockdowns and, you know, the social media that just, So hard to keep that out of the classroom when they’re trying to keep kids focused and kids sneaking phones in it, just with that kind of pressure, it just increases that leaning heavily on compliance models.
Yeah, I think I even think about, you know, being raised in the era where you still got hacked, you know, you got spanked by the teacher or a principal and just compliance is so part of education. Even though there is that desire for behavior change, I mean, we’re giving our young children to, you know, other adults and having them spend more time with them during the day than, than parents do.
And the heavy leaning is so much on compliance just for classroom management. How do you foster behavior change and good values based decision making when you’ve got 30 and really kids and half them on their phone? I mean, I think the level of complexity has increased so much over the years. This is where I get excited about the application motivationally in an educational setting.
Well, that’s also to bring up then where is there a place for compliance, Casey, and is compliance always bad, in the classroom? I know there’s books written on this with EMI and education and, and, there’s some special specialists in Mint and things around this, but I’m just wondering your thoughts on maybe the limits of intrinsic motivation in EMI or if there are any, and it’s just a matter of setting up the conditions of the classroom to be.
You know, less people are just how you see that, how that would work in a society with unruly classroom and kids and phones. Well, you know, ironically, I use that as an example when, when we talk about in the very beginning of our intro trainings is the difference between compliance models and behavior change models.
And I tell people just fundamentally compliance models aren’t. Just unilaterally bad. That’s just not true. And one of the examples I use literally is I say, when I teach teachers, motivational interviewing, I tell them, if you’ve got a kid who’s flipping over a desk and I punch another kid in the mouth, I’m not going to amplify his ambivalence, you know, his little booty is going to be at the vice principal’s office.
But that’s what I always follow up with. And that will not change his behavior. So compliance for classroom management will make sense, but it is not going to. It’s not going to change behavior and so where is that corridor that you’re carving out in terms of classroom management or compliance when you’re literally trying to wrangle.
You know, and shepherd students and where can you develop a skill set or a mastery of creating these micro dose interventions that really do perpetuate longer, more sustained, healthy behavior change where, where, you know, it is the ideal educational system. And then, I mean, if you have an educational system that can manage with compliance when needed, but fundamentally fosters growth and development, and executive functioning and decision making in real time versus.
A classroom assignment. I mean that. I think that would just be a phenomenal educational setting. You know, this gives me so much hope that more and more school systems are reaching out to you to To get help so that shows it’s moving in the right direction. They’re trying and looking for these solutions What do you hear the most from from these these educational?
Organizations that what’s the pain point that is getting them to actually look for something different, look for motivational interviewing and look, look for you. I think partially what it is is just being unaware that this exists. It is just another brand name of things that are being. Sold to school districts.
And there are so many programs because they’re not that there’s any unlimited dollars by any stretch, for teacher development, but there are just so many things to choose from. So, so what makes motivation stand out from that perspective? I think the biggest complicating factor that I’ve experienced is, I mean, on one hand, there is just the financial resource.
I, but what I think a bigger bear than financial resources is time resource. Teachers do not have time to learn a fidelity based model, and I think that’s extremely complicated. So, those are the things that I wonder about in terms of, does this have an impact? If they can only get a one hour, you know, am I training during their, it’s called lid they’re learning development, you know, once a week where they get one hour, like the dosage is really fascinating to see.
Will that work without not work? Yeah. It, you know, in speaking with so many organizations, it seems like. It seems like it takes a real commitment. And so I know once they do experience just a brief introduction with you that they get it. I mean, the light bulb goes off and they’re like, Oh, it’s what I love is the conversations around.
How do we commit in baby steps, you know, because of that time management piece, but still committing to it. Sticking with it over time. It’s just like, if you’re in it for the short race, it’s not as effective. You know, and I, I think in my experience, what I see so often is that when they feel that they can see the progress or something happened, and this is the beauty, I mean, this is why I love teaching motivational interviewing is because the proof is in the pudding.
They, even in a one hour tour training, if they try just one thing, the conversations go differently and it becomes kind of this self fulfilling, self nurturing process that once they learn a little. When they learn evidence based motivation and they can see the functionality and they get immediate feedback, even if they’re not good at it and just make an attempt, then it becomes, well, I want a little bit more.
I want a little bit more. I want a little bit more. And that’s what we experience all the time. Usually when people ask for even a one hour training or two hour training on motivational interviewing, by the end of it, they’re like, Oh my gosh, we need. This could change our entire structure. This could change all of our outcomes.
I mean, this just happened for you and I, Danielle, with, with Life Center Northwest, but it’s the same thing. It’s like, they want to move to full fidelity because it’s like, we can see our outcomes changing and we barely have our foot in the water and it’s already making a difference in, you know. What our outcomes and our deliverables are.
I don’t want to take us off course, but I can’t help but think of the conversations I have with teachers and school systems, the conversations with, you know, like Life Center and these organizations and the feeling I get, and I get so excited on these podcasts and just in general with what you’re, you’re doing and what you offer is the word that pops up is hope.
It’s just like the, it’s just. It cracks me up because we had another podcast where we were kind of debating what hope means within motivational interviewing. But gosh, for me, I agree that, you know, and I think it is whether it’s met, you know, all the things we can talk about when we talk about hope, fundamentally, it is a thing and.
When people are feeling desperate or at their wits end, you want to be able to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that’s not the train, you know, that it’s like, is there really a way out of this in a way that we can show up and ensure that our behavior. Is in line with our values. And I think that is so powerful.
So for so many educators is we just want to make a difference. We just, you know, I think when you don’t know what else to do, you just want to get through the day and, you know, if there’s no damage done by the end of the day and half them turn in their homework, we’ll call that a win. And I think that that bar continues to just be.
Chuck, in terms of how high is the bar, partly from where our culture is around education, partly with how much power has been taken out of the classroom and teachers don’t generate their own curriculum half the time anymore, more than half the time, but they’re expected to go in there and when, and then they don’t have the structure to be able to.
Manage a classroom in the way that they’ve traditionally been managed. I think that they just feel like, what do I do? And to see kids that are more desperate or more depressed, struggling, just massive need for resources, they don’t get access resources. It’s hard for them to parent or set boundaries because then parents get so angry about that when teachers try to provide that kind of structure.
And so I think that, I think teachers just get frustrated when they throw their hands up in the air, you know, we can’t take the phone out of their hand because parents are going to scream. They won’t pay attention or our parents are going to scream. They’re flunking the class so their parents are screaming.
Like, it’s just so difficult. And then parents are on the school board and won’t let us teach curriculum that we know will help these kids advance. Like I, I think that just profound disempowerment and my obsession with motivation being fundamentally is, well, we still have control over is what comes out of our mouth and how is it impacting people around us.
That’s where I think there’s just profound power when in a system like the education system in the us I think educators are just feeling so disempowered on a day-to-day basis and, and desperate for resource. I mean, even concretely desperate for resources like pencils and paper, you know, for those resources.
So you compound that with communication skills that actually make a difference in this kiddo’s life. I remember it was a little unsettling, but we have, I have a lot of friends that are in the education field, principals and activities, directors, and just educators, and I remember that during COVID during the pandemic.
They were just talking about the, you know, obviously the general frustration of not being able to see the kiddos, but their biggest concern and this was bothersome to me is one of their biggest concerns was, you know, yes, it’s hard to teach online. Yes. But my biggest concern is for all the kids whose screens are black or who are not showing up.
Because of, you know, with poverty and abuse and all these other things that we know exist in our, our communities, it’s the kiddos that weren’t showing up. I mean, for whatever, because of, you know, different laws around truancy, kids at least are in the classroom and they can go, Ooh, I know this, this kiddo is struggling or this family struggling, but when they don’t show up online, I know one specific teacher I can think of who was starting to get depressed because there’s two or three.
Students in his class that he’s like, it makes me, it’s hard to sleep at night because I don’t know what’s going on. And I know that whatever’s happening, that family is not good. Just historically. And now no one has eyes on this kiddo, or this family. And that just makes me nervous. Like I think about those things.
So I think that there’s these. You know, we think about teachers that maybe are too kind of detached and done with the system and just on their hands up, but I look at the, you know, just loads and loads of other teachers that are just desperate, desperate, desperate for resource that they can use right now that will make a difference right now.
And that’s where. My belief in getting, am I access them to motivation because it is a method of communication when you open your mouth, it is going to have an impact and you don’t have to be a therapist. You just need to be able to think very quickly and very strategically in the moment to engage a different brain in a completely different way.
So, yeah, I can, I mean, I can feel myself already getting, you know, a lot of energy around this because it is, I think it’s such a profound game changer and it’s just not widely accessed. And one thing you, you both are talking about, you’re somebody I was listening to on this other podcast called the foreign hands, the forest Hanson podcast that dealt with learned helplessness and things that Casey, I know, you know, really well from your training, as well as something we have in the motivational interviewing competency assessment, the Micah.
Is this concept of self, either self advocacy or personal agency. And that’s coming to mind because if you feel like you’re trying and trying and trying something, say one of these teachers, and you’re in a system that feels like it’s so bureaucratic, you can’t make any move, like you don’t feel like you have any control as much as you try.
And then here’s, am I as a potential to have what you’re saying, Danielle hope. Or Casey, a sense of control or impact. With what comes out of your mouth, and that really is personal agency. That’s what we talk about in the Micah with having, that as a core piece of what it means to activate, someone is to have a sense of.
That they have a sense that that what they say is or do is going to impact the outcome. So I think you’re both talking language that’s, either Danielle’s, your sense of hope or Casey, your sense of like personal agency and impact that it’s a similar language of what you’re talking about. I’m particularly curious about.
The, outcomes that you were kind of talking about Casey, like what kinds of outcomes like that came to my mind that I was thinking of, like, what are you seeing? What have you heard from maybe other either mentees or things around outcomes that you aware of or know about that it affects? Also, you know, it also brought up, well, we could.
Relate this to, am I in groups because you’re talking about doing this with a group of people. So that might be something to dive into. We did another podcast on that as well as how you have, am I in something as large as the bureaucracy of a whole school system. So it opens up a lot of cans, but I think the outcomes would be one of the most interesting ones.
And then we can see kind of where you want to take it from. Well, you know, when I think of outcomes. Just in terms of fundamentally, the basics of motivational interviewing, if more students felt heard and seen and understood, we know what outcomes that produces. So even if it’s not full on motivational interviewing, just the basis of being able to dial into one kiddo in one moment in time, and they feel heard and seen and understood, I think with some of the, interventionists that we worked with on the SBIRT project in.
Seattle in King County, I can think of so many interventions that have said, I know, because the way I was communicating with this student, like one specifically pops in my brain, I know that he felt like somebody was finally listening to him and he was relatively desperate and would have been an outlier that would never have been got who.
Most likely wouldn’t have got the attention that he needed because he would just been lost in the mix because he’s not, you know, the, the, the outliers that tend to get the attention, it’s the middle of the bell shaped curve where most of the kids get lost and there are some desperate individuals in the, in the middle of the bell shaped curve.
Because as resources get tighter, as schools navigate discipline differently, the ones who are getting the attention are really the, you know, both ends of the spectrum and, you know, the best of the best and the worst of the worst are the ones who get all the attention in schools. And then most people kind of plug along in the, in the middle of the bell shaped curve, there’s so many depressed, struggling individuals in that.
Middle of the bell shaped curve, but they’re not the worst of the worst. And the, you know, active red flags flying all over the place. They’re literally flying under the radar. And I’m talking about cheerleaders and, you know, athletes and, you know, just the ones that people tend not to think of the full spectrum within all those clicks.
There are desperate individuals who are just struggling and we know that social media just makes it worse. It’s just that the bullying and the not good enough and I’m too fat or I’m too skinny or I’m just this or I’m not. That just is, that’s just part of all the chatter being an adolescent, which is why so many people say they don’t want to be.
They would never go back to school, at this point in time. So the outcomes that I see is that When people are using Motivation Wing in the school system, more, more youth, more children are feeling heard and seen and understood, and they don’t have to be with a therapist to feel seen and heard and understood.
It’s at somebody’s listening to them more deeply. So I see those outcomes and then they’re more open to talking about what’s going on, which makes them a little bit more receptive to getting access to services. So those are some of the things that I’ve seen in the project that have been where I see those direct outcomes or have experienced and been.
You know, anecdotally, well, yeah, that’s also pointing to, it seems like there’s maybe ones that, you know, I don’t have off the top of my head, but that are a little bit more, you know, you could say hard outcomes of like, cause there’s the, there’s the heartfelt individuals and, social work counseling therapy background.
That’s going to totally resonate with that sense of, well, then you’re reaching people. Right. But there’s that really almost like. Negative view of, well, that’s just feel good, right? That’s just, you know, great. They’re going to feel better. But how are we going to get the funding for that? You know, and so there’s something that seems to be going on.
I know with some of the expert that has fundable outcomes with it and, uh. As well as some things that are happening that seem to be helping with kids getting access to other programs and things. So I think that’s, important to keep in mind that that’s maybe not our expertise is specific outcomes in the school systems, but you’re kind of getting that Casey that they’ll have more likelihood of engaging in services that will help them if they have behavioral issues or.
Maybe tendencies towards substance use, like an expert or some of those things. But yeah, Danielle, I think you had some questions around maybe some tips around this as well.
Your sound is off.
It’s great to kind of go through how in touch you are with the challenges that the school systems face and the teachers and the students. I think as we look to wrap this up, what kind of tips might you share with. With the administrators of schools, principals, the teachers, even maybe parents that are, are listening, all very much concerned about, about the, about our youth, about the students and wanting to give them the best.
And also we need to take care of our people, the teachers and educators out there. The, the things if I was going to just target. administration. I know there’s always a focus. You know, I’ve recently talked to some principals and I know there’s a focus on bringing more evidence based practices. What I would say, and I remember this with working with law enforcement is yes, it’s helpful for them to understand signs of mental health.
It’s helpful for them to understand and learn things about trauma and to be trauma informed. I think what people are desperate for is, but that doesn’t teach me how to open my mouth and communicate with this individual. So yes, my brain understands the issue. My brain can see what the problem is, but that doesn’t mean that I know how to intervene.
So all I can do is just keep pushing referrals and flagging kiddos. So I think my, when I think of administrators who want to keep their behavior, And the behavior of their staff and their teachers in aligned with the values of the school, we give them more communication skills. So they feel well equipped to communicate with these kiddos and families.
And what I think from a teacher perspective, that’s what I think of as well as just seek out something that will give you the communication skills. And of course, my profound bias is the efficacy of motivational interviewing, because even if you can learn how to effectively make one student genuinely feel heard and seen and understood and not judged.
And that’s me trying to fix them or parent them or yell at them or tell them what they’re doing wrong or what they should be doing. But just to feel heard for five minutes will have a profound impact on outcomes. I mean, research shows that, you know, it, it helps the brain. Function more effectively when the brain is not stuck within itself.
And it feels like somebody else or something else understands their reality. It’s the potency of social media. So if educators could have that sense that in those moments that I don’t need to educate, I just need to listen to this one student for a few minutes. Without trying to fix them or judge them, the amount of health and healing that can happen from that, the amount of connection that can happen from that is profound.
So those would be some of my tips off the top of my head.
Yeah, it just sounds like for me with taking the last bit of this, it’s that Casey, you’re really talking about, well, is a really a potential way for people to affect outcomes. Of what they have control over, which was kind of the hope to bring it back to, and you’re like, you were talking about that. How much do you know, versus how much can you embody what to do?
Okay. So you were talking about and that embodiment of what, what could I do? Am I as an evidence based approach. Of something you can do, and that is a way that you might be able to affect the outcomes as you’re getting at, and it gives teachers or people involved in the system more personal agency to really affect the world in the ways that they want to see or the kids in the ways that they want to see.
Given that right now, maybe it’s hard to change the whole system. So I think that’s a really important point that you both brought up. I love it. Thanks so much, guys. I think hopefully viewers, listeners, this has been helpful. You’ve got some tips. If you need support, please reach out IFIOC. com and let’s have a conversation.
We’re here for you and, keep up the good work and. There’s hope.
Thanks so much, guys. We’ll see you on the next podcast. Take care.
Thank you for listening to the communication solution podcast with Casey Jackson and John Gilbert. As always, this podcast is about empowering you on your journey to change the world. So if you have questions, suggestions, or ideas, send them our way at Casey at IFIOC.com. That’s C A S E Y at I F I O C dot com.
For more information or to schedule a training, visit IFIOC.com. Until our next communication solution podcast, keep changing the world.