Interview Your Students

Not long ago, I asked a few students the question, “What do you like about school?” A chair, a camera and a conversation. I was fully prepared for the predictable answers of “Recess!” or “My teachers!” or “Lunch!” or “P.E!” Depending on the learner, I might have heard, “Reading!” or “Math” or “Computers!” Interestingly enough, I didn’t get any of those responses.

Asking questions and interviewing our students every now and then can be some of the best feedback we receive all year.

  • Students offer perspective. We often think we are doing a stellar job teaching content. We’ve danced it, we’ve sung it, we have even done magic tricks with it. But are we engaging our students or just entertaining them? Are we giving them the opportunity to own their learning? Or are we just putting on the best show in town?
  • Students give ideas. I think students have the most amazing ideas. And one idea can lead to another and then to another and then everybody can find a gold nugget. Maybe for us, it is that lesson or project that just needed to be discovered. For them, it might be that creative endeavor they need to boost learning to the next level.
  • Students encourage us. I love seeing students both in and out of the building. A “Hi, Mrs. Maynor!” with a big smile on their face is better than my favorite morning coffee or those dark chocolate almonds I keep eating. I love it even more when they ask, “When are we going to produce the next weather report?” Or “You have to come see my project!”
  • Students challenge us. I think students have the unique position of challenging us to be better than we were yesterday. They are plugged in every day and know more than we realize. In our connected world, teaching isn’t what is was yesterday, so we need to accept the challenge and forge new pathways, creating new instructional models to best meet the needs of our students.

5 thoughts on “Interview Your Students

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  1. I really enjoyed the way you prefaced the video with a discussion on what you usually hear when you ask a student about what they like most about the school day. Currently, if I asked students in my building that same question, I would expect to hear what their favorite subject/ class is during the school week. We currently do not have the technology in our building that most schools are seeing today.

    This was a great video with some insightful responses from your students! I loved how they were talking about technology and the iPad being such an integral part of the learning process and how it transformed the classroom.
    They discussed the idea that through project based learning, the entire environment changed. There was better communication among peers and collaboration was much higher in group settings. I also really enjoyed the one student’s perspective on the changes she saw in the teachers. Instead of a teacher proctoring the room to make sure students were all doing and completing the work, teachers were now stopping at the desks to see what the students had learned so far so that the teacher could learn with them! That is awesome! I think to remain a good teacher; you always have to remain a humble student. Always willing to learn, grow, and accept new resources into your own classroom. I wonder how you see changes in your students “buy-in” after these types of projects were implemented into the classroom where students were able to have some ownership over the content and research involved with the classroom learning. I can assume that it was very high.

    It seems as though this project based learning with technology also transformed the environment in which you learned. The one young boy was saying how you were not just “cooped up in a small classroom” anymore but actually outside learning since you have a traveling piece of technology. This seems like such a valuable piece for the classroom.

    My current school district is adopting a 1:1 initiative for all students over the next five years. By 2020 all students in grades 1-12 will have a piece of technology to use inside and outside of the classroom. I am hopeful that by 2020, my students will be saying the same things that your students do about their learning and favorite parts of their school day.

    What an awesome video!

      1. I am in a suburban school district in Western Pennsylvania. We are very large with about 8,000 students total. Do you see so many benefits to the added piece of technology?

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