10-second review: A series of interview questions about writing teachers’ (or students’) writing experiences.
Title: “In-Depth Interviewing in the Preparation of Writing Teachers.” Earl Seidman. College Composition and Communication (December 1990), 465-471. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Summary: Part of a project for pre-service English teachers. Students interviewed each other. The interviewer then wrote a profile of the interviewee. Purpose was to develop the ability to interview for the purpose of conducting writing conferences with students. Succeeded in generating good feelings among class members as they learned and wrote about each other.
Here are the questions:
Interview I. What has writing been like for you from the time you first remember until the present? What do you remember of writing before you began school? How did you learn to write? What was writing like for you in elementary school? Junior high school? High school? College? Who helped you with writing and what was that like? What kind of writing did you see your parents/siblings doing? Tell me about a time when writing was really good/bad for you. Can you recreate _______ for me? You haven’t said much about _______,
Interview II. What is writing like for you right now? Tell me as many stories as you can about what writing is like for you now. What are all the kinds of writing you do inside and outside of school? Tell me about a typical day and how writing fits in . How do you go about a writing project from the time you decide on what you will write until you feel it is finished? What is the process like for you? Give as many details as possible When is it exciting or hard? What do you worry about? How do other people help or hinder that process? If I had a picture of you at home writing, what would it look like? Where do you write, when, how, with what? What has teaching writing been like, or what will it be like? What do you or will you like/dislike about it?
Interview III. Now that you have reconstructed what writing was like for you in the past and what it is like for you now, what meaning do you make of your experience with writing? What sense do you make of it? What things are important to you in your life? How does writing or the teaching of writing connect with things that are important? Are you realizing anything through these interviews about schooling or the teaching of writing and its effects on you? How has the experience of writing been good/ bad/ exciting/ distressing/ frustrating? How do you understand that? What is there that seems important to you that we haven’t covered?
Comment: Worth responding myself to these questions or asking the same questions to students in classes. If students responded to them as a group, I would become aware of how different are the backgrounds of the students in my classes. If I were to use these questions with a group, I think I would be selective about which questions to ask in order not to have students bring up personal information that might be embarrassing. I might consider turning each of these interviews into a writing assignment. Based on my experience, I am not sure I could respond to these questions orally and would do better taking some time to think and write clearly. RayS.