The phrase ‘interview lesson’ can strike trepidation into the hearts of some. Perhaps this is why regularly scheduled interview lessons with every student in your class are something not so often discussed. Why might this be so?
Teachers feel like they need to be ‘teaching’ – that is, actively monitoring that their students are completing worthwhile work each lesson. The idea of interviewing each student in turn is to risk relegating the lesson to the whims of students.
Over the years I have intermittently held interview lessons with varying degrees of success. Usually they involve some form of administration. They aim, as always, to inspire.
I think that interview lessons should take place on a more regular basis: perhaps even once every four weeks. The students not (yet) being interviewed should work on something independent, preferably in near silence (and, depending on the class, guided).
The interviews themselves should involve guidance with completing particular sheets (the rolling maintenance sheets, the personalised rubric booklets), and the student speaking more than I do. This has not always happened. I think that, as with any interview with a student, asking a student to outline their framework for language is to ask them to construct how they see how language: its uses and its possibilities, its benefits and its difficulties.
Most importantly, perhaps, I think that organising apt time is useful, too. Using a flash timer with sections , I should be able to trot through students at the rate of 2-5 minutes for each student over several lessons.
Finally, to make these interviews more effective, I should tell students:
a) In advance when they will take place (the week after a ‘respond to all marking in your books’). As my homework has usually been set for a Thursday, it can even take place on this lesson.
b) In advance for the homework, the students should make some notes about their responses to the question: ‘What aspects of Terrance (The Ten Tangible Techniques…) have you focussed upon? What have you achieved in the rubric booklet?’. This should then inform our conversation.
I will attempt to set such interview lessons in 2-3 weeks’ time. As will all things, the success of this is judged on the the ability of the students to use the language of learning to precise effect. To this end, some of the initial interviews might be public/role-played. Hopefully this will serve a growth mindset. Maybe in the future, parental involvement and a signature could be useful.