First Interview with a Student

Can you tell me about your experiences in school as a student? Do you like school?

  • I Like school in the sense that I’m learning more, like bettering my academic career, improving what my life would be. Everytime I show up I get better, but, I don’t like the way it’s, like, done. I don’t like the amount of rules, and like, a lot of the teachers, just, so, like half and half.


Do you have a favorite part of your day?

  • Definitely lunch. (Laughs) Because it’s a break. Breaks are good. And food. (Laughs) yeah. That’s about it.


Do you have a least favorite part of your day?

  • Um, it’s more like a least favorite class. Uh, probably would be math class. Not because I don’t like math, but because of the way it’s taught – with this teacher. I like it, I like math a lot, but, not this year.

What do you not like about the class?

  • Well, it’s more – the teacher. Um, The way he teaches, its more the students figuring it out and then he tells us if it’s right, and I don’t like that. Um, doesn’t work for me. But it works for some people, and that’s okay, but, not for me.


Do you have a favorite class?

  • Um…probably German. But that’s ‘cause I’m with my friends. The teacher’s fun and laid back.


Do you have a favorite teacher?

  • Mmmm… not from this year, but probably Freshman year Mr. Lyons.

Can you tell me about why?

  • Um, he’s like relatable, kind of. Uh, I don’t know, he’s fun. He like, engages the class. Mmm, (shrugs) I don’t know, I just liked him alot.


Can you tell me about your first day of school this year?

  • Hmmm…I don’t know. It was just like any other first day of school, it was just like – we go, the teacher tries to memorize our names, and, I don’t know. Nothing really interesting happens, we get papers to sign, syllabuses, syllabuses. Syllabi? I don’t know. (Laughs) Yeah. Yeah.


Do you think as a student and as a learner, do you think you’ve evolved over the years?

  • Um… yeah I have. Like, I used to be a lot less focused, a lot, like, always all over the place. Now I’m definitely more organized, stuff like that. So I have learned that from stricter teachers. I think my learning process is still the same as it’s always been. I need visuals and stuff like that.


Do visuals make it easier for you to understand and pick up on information?

  • Yeah, I need to like, see it and be able to know what is supposed to happen. You know?


Can you tell me about how you feel throughout your day?

  • It’s more like I’m just tired. Kind of want it to be done. But, looking forward to track, usually.


How do you feel when the day is over?

  • Um…it’s like, it’s like relief, kind of, but my school day isn’t the end of my day. Like I do so much other stuff. So it’s just like, the end of that part. Another thing done.


When do you feel most engaged?

  • Definitely, when like, the teacher’s funny. If it’s in a class that’s funny and definitely right after lunch (laughs) because I have energy. I like that.


When do you feel least engaged?

  • The last period of the day. It’s like I’m ready to go by that time. Yeah.


When do you feel most curious?

  • Hmmm…oh, I don’t know. Hmm. I don’t know, I’d liked to say when I, – oh, actually, yeah, during Math class. Um. Like, I like to know how it all happened. My teacher right now, he doesn’t really tell us so I’ve gone to other teachers, and, um, – “Why is it like this?” Like, I don’t know. I’m usually curious as to why things happen that way.


Do you think there’s a difference between being a good student and a good learner?

  • Definitely. There’s definitely a difference. You can be a good student without actually knowing what going on. Um, like, a good student means you’re getting A’s, passing classes, have a high GPA, but like, a good learner might not have that , but they know what’s happening. They understand it, you know?


What do you feel your responsibilities are as a student?

  • My responsibilities are probably like, get a good GPA, get into college, do the homework, and pass the test.


What do you feel your responsibilities are as a learner?

  • Understand what’s happening. Actually put two and two together. Like, how this can affect everything else in your life.


What do you think is the ultimate goal of your education?

  • Um, probably to get a good job that you enjoy. Because that’s what you’re going to be doing your whole life, so…you might as well make it something you like.


Some connections with our first teacher interview, questions, and other notable moments

  • She said she liked her favorite teacher because he was “relatable”. This points us back to our first two teacher interviews where we came up with the take away of the importance of being human as a teacher. If one is relatable as a teacher, students feel more comfortable asking questions, being themselves, being playful, and being curious, etc.


  • She didn’t like that students were expected to figure out math problems on their own and then have the teacher tell them if it was correct. Later she said that with the exception of this year, she usually feels most curious in math. She said she likes to understand “why it all happened”. Perhaps being expected to initially figure out problems for herself makes her feel lost instead of curious. Perhaps she would enjoy it more and retain her sense of curiosity if she began with some guidance from the teacher and was then given time to explore the problems for herself…? Or if the teacher explained the details of what happened in the problem after she works through it? Maybe a little more guidance and explanation would spark her curiosity rather than make her feel like she is wading in confusion, lost in a sea of numbers.


  • Do introductions and first days of school need to be days where “nothing really happens?” This should be the first day to spark students curiosity and for teachers to demonstrate their humanity to students.
    • We’ll never forget walking into the first day of Creative Expressions in 7th grade. Mr. Heidt was dressed up as a mad scientist, complete with a paint splattered lab coat. As he shouted in a german accent and told us that he (Dr. F… a really long German name) was our substitute for the first day, we were curious. What was this class about?? Who was Mr. Heidt and what kind of teacher was he!? Dr. F is Mr. Heidt… right?


  • She said she has evolved as a student and as a learner in that she is more focused and organized. She said she used to be “all over the place” and that she learned to be more focused/organized from strict teachers. Although organization is a useful tool and habit, did these strict teachers lessen her creativity, wonder, and playfulness at all?


  • Many students have said so far that they feel tired in school and that they’re happy when the day is over. This student described her feelings for when the day is over as “relief”. We feel these same feelings too. This is a big reason we wanted to do this project. How can students feel curious in school, making them feel more engaged throughout their day so that leaving school doesn’t feel like a “relief”?


  • She said she felt most engaged when her teacher’s were funny and right after lunch because she has energy. This sense of engagement seems to go along with teachers being human and having positive interactions with student learners.


  • She said that there is a difference between a good student and a good learner. She said good students get good grades, have high GPA’s, etc. while good learners might not have good grades all of the time, the highest GPA’s, etc., but that they know what’s happening, they understand. This brings us back to the point that when teachers are unrelatable (not human) and dispense information in front of the room, they are a response to the system: they need to provide students with information and assign assignments and tests for students to demonstrate their knowledge. Students are evaluated on how well they are playing the game of education (did they earn the most points possible?), instead of helping students grow as explorers and problem solvers. Students also become responses to the system: they want to or feel the need to play the game of education and earn the most points as possible in order to show their achievements and ability to learn. Although having a high GPA may look desirable, does it really showcase a student’s ability to problem solve? To innovate? Their vitality or creativity? It doesn’t. At least not entirely. How can school be treated less as a game and more of a place to grow, learn, and think?

2 thoughts on “First Interview with a Student

  1. Dr. Friedrich vonWilhelmaufderhindenbergheit. Alas, with this new ban on travel and all of Dr. Fred’s connections (he’s a world renowned neuroscientist) Dr. Fred gets on all the “no fly” lists. It’s just not right, but I’ve not seen him in ages. But…hmmm…curiouser and curiouser.

    Well done here. I love the fact that you’re starting to connect the dots. Making….Connections!


  2. Oh! And one more thing…if you’ve not read that White paper called “10 Principles for Modern Learners”, you must! You’ll see why, if you haven’t read it, and if you have, then I’m starting to see the why of your method here. Either way you win.


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