Thursday, April 14, 2011

I don't know - Drilling down for concerns 2

I have previously discussed the importance of  drilling down with questions to get accurate and good quality concerns on the table

The quality of our solutions using the collaborative problem solving ' Plan B ' will depend on the quality of the kid's concerns we manage to put on the table. This will depend on how clear  ( not vague )  the empathy step is. If the empathy step is too vague or contains too much information that needs to be processed kids will answer ' I don't know'.

Kids may answer ' I don't know '  because they don't trust the  process and see plan B as Plan A in the guise of plan B or that Plan A is around the corner , something which they have come to expect.

We need to drill down with questions to get really good quality concerns.

1  We can ask the the wh – questions  to learn more about the situational factors   -  what,  where, with whom, over what , why , how  

2 asking yes/no questions and then taking the answers further

3  Different conditions and situations -   under certain conditions the kid does not have a problem, while under others he has difficulty

4   what was the kid thinking during the problem ?   this helps to get their view and perspective on the table. Asking about feelings - how did you feel  etc does not contribute directly to gathering information about concerns.

5  Breaking down the problem situation into different parts or components

6   Using clarifying statements to help the kid do more talking and so give more input
-            Can you tell me more -  I don't understand or I am a bit confused can you explain, how so ,  - there could be more than one concern –so if we can deal with your concern = need a quiet place for homework , would homework then be no longer a problem ?  so the kid may come up with another concern . We would need to prioritize concerns when working on a solution.

7 Making tentative suggestions  - when a kid shuts down or has difficulty identifying or expressing his concerns , we can have in mind 5-6 tentative suggestions of what his concerns might be and express them in a tentative way

  • questions that focus on the who, what, where and when about the conditions of the unsolved problem
  • differentiate between why the problem occurs under some circumstances and not others
  • breaking down the problem into its components. For example, if it looks like the child has problems during English class, ask questions to clarify which part of English class is problematic (reading, writing, group work, individual work) If it's reading, then ask questions that clarify what part of reading (out loud, silent)
  • reflective listening and clarifying statements: "How so?" "I don't understand" "I'm confused" "Can you say more about that?" "What's hard about that?"
  • asking the child what s/he's thinking in the midst of the unsolved problem
  • summarizing what's been learned so far
  • "tabling" some concerns so as to permit considerations of others. "What if the floor wasn't dirty, could you then sit on the floor with the class?" "If we removed Elijah from group, would that solve the problem?" "Would that make it easier for you?"

We may need to have a Plan B discussion about why a kid is answering all the time '  I don't know '. Instead of trying to clarify concerns about a particular problem, we would focus why the kid has difficulty in answering problems.

Plan B is not a technique but a process . When we engage in Plan B , every step on the way , we and the kid are involved in learning.  It takes lots of Plan B experiences for both parent and kid to get good at Plan b and come to trust the process. General chatting and perspective taking can also help with the learning.          

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