9.2 Scoring “There’s a weight on my shoulders”


Scoring guide for weight

Here’s how it is scored:

    • High Acknowledges the empathetic opportunity directly and also asks a follow up question about the empathetic opportunity, affirms the parent, focuses on their partnership, legitimizes the concern or child’s behavior, offers support related to the concern, or self-discloses a similar challenge or experience.
      • Note 1: Direct acknowledgement can include asking about the opportunity, reassuring the parent, restating a key word from the concern, or connecting to the purpose (if relevant).
      • Note 2: Partnership includes collaborative statements that are somehow connected to what the parent was sharing and an explicit focus on being partners. Partnership does not include telling parent what to do, saying we will meet again; using “we” alone is not enough either. Legitimizes means normalizes like “This happens to so many kids,” and “I can understand why you would be worried.” Affirm includes thanking the parent for sharing the empathetic opportunity, complimenting a specific idea the parent shared, and complimenting the parent’s parenting.
      • Note 3: A combination of a question about the empathetic opportunity followed by listening and reassurance/ direct response to new content shared counts as high too.
    • Medium Acknowledges the empathetic opportunity directly, but does not follow up on the opportunity, or a high/low.
      • Note 1: Direct acknowledgement can include clarifying or probing questions about the opportunity, reassuring the parent, restating a key word from the concern, or connecting to the purpose (if relevant).
      • Note 2: Not following up on the opportunity includes ending after acknowledgement, or after acknowledgement asking a question about the child or something unrelated or pivoting to next steps for the plan.
      • Note 3: A high/low is where there is an attempt to reassure related to the emotional opportunity, support the parent, or to thank them for sharing the empathetic content (e.g., not for sharing an idea or their parenting, but for sharing their concern), but the acknowledgement is indirect (present but not explicit).
    • Low Does not directly or fully acknowledge empathetic opportunity.
      • Note: This includes ignoring what the parent said, asking a question about something unrelated to the emotional content shared, focusing exclusively on the child, or responding in a perfunctory fashion before moving on (Okay, I see, sure)


Now, let’s see what that looks like in practice!

If the participant says….Okay. So I will try to start that that book club. We’ve been doing a lot of presentation things and stand up kind of research-based. So hopefully when we get into the fiction, maybe she will enjoy it some more. And, you know, want to explore a little bit more with that. So..

They would be scored… Low

Because… While for the two challenge/defensiveness items ignoring what the parent said could get you a medium, for the three empathy items, ignoring what the parent said gets the teacher a low score. Here the father has said there was a weight on his shoulders and the teacher’s response is okay– which is at the best perfunctory.


If the participant says….Well, what do you mean by that Mr. Reed?

They would be scored… Medium

Because…The fact that the teacher asked dad what he meant by the weight is amazing– but for a high score we want to see the teacher do two things– to acknowledge and purse and this is just one action.


If the participant says….Okay, I’m sorry to hear that.

They would be scored…Medium

Because…Same here. This is a great response, but does not get a high because it is not both acknowledgement and pursuit.


If the participant says….I don’t think that… like I said, ninth grade students being a bit shyer is definitely not a huge issue to worry about. So I don’t want you to have any of that weight on your shoulders at home. This is definitely something that I’m glad you and I are talking about, because we are coming up with a great plan, as far as I can tell, to get Katie more comfortable.

They would be scored…High

Because…Here the teacher is directly acknowledging what the parent said and following up by legitimizing the student’s behavior and focusing on the partnership with the parent.


If the participant says….I’m sorry, Bennett. What? How do you mean?

They would be scored…High

Because… This combines the two mediums from earlier– the teacher is both acknowledging and following up so this one is scored a high.