There is immense value we can offer youth by simply listening, “between the lines.”

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

  • I was lost ALL day.
  • I got yelled at for running in the hall trying not to be late. Then I was late, and got in trouble for being late.
  • The teacher kept glaring at me, I know she hates me.
  • They only give us FOUR minutes to get from one class to another.
  • I can’t get my locker combination to work.
  • Everyone was staring at me . . .etc.”

I absolutely LOVE working with teens! Yes, it can be messy and filled with drama, but it’s amazing all the same to enter their world and see life and situations through their eyes.  

This particular student has recovered beautifully from her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, first day of school.

What Made the Difference?

Listening for the bits and pieces of positive mixed into the list of things that went wrong. And then watching for those nuggets that could prove hopeful and encouraging once the high emotion of the moment began to fade.

The NOT SO Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, First Day of School

  • I like my math teacher – he’s funny and said we won’t have homework.
  • My Spanish teacher spent most of class speaking in Spanish, and I understood everything she said.
  • We get to play games in drama.
  • English – no homework. . .etc.”

Listening Between the Lines

Even though this student was focusing primarily on the trials in her day, her nuggets of hopeful things were pretty impressive. What I heard and later summarized for her was:

  • My schedule is amazing.
  • My classes are going to be easy.
  • My evenings and weekends are going to be homework free.
  • Learning is going to be fun in several places throughout the day.

Her day wasn’t a 10, but it also wasn’t a 2. With this new perspective in hand, she was able to move forward with renewed confidence and hope for her school year.

As coaches, mentors, parents, and advocates this is the gift we have the opportunity to give students each day simply by taking the time to listen between the lines. Students want to talk and share. When they do, beautiful things can start to happen.

If you aren’t sure how to get a conversation going, or keep it going, email me and I will share some great “door opening” questions you can try out with the youth in your life.

Thanks for checking out my blog! I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate, and licensed as a therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.