Getting to Know Your Students: Inside Room 801

With more testing than ever in years past, I realized that I was forgoing the most important part of my job description, which was getting to know my students. One lazy Saturday morning, an idea came to me while watching Inside the Actors Studio. Why not hold an interview for my students and allow their classmates to ask the questions, therefore creating a meaningful way to practice social skills AND get to know my eighth graders? So I created “Inside Room 801” (801 is my classroom number).

So the idea was simple: I generated 10 basic questions for every student who will be in the “hot seat.” The “hot seat” was my nice, comfortable teacher chair at the front of the room they get to sit in while being interviewed.

When the student in the hot seat is randomly selected from my name sticks, I give them the premade list to review and practice answers. Then they’re assigned a day the following week for their “interview.” Come interview time, I randomly assign ten classmates in the “audience” to each ask a question; however that classmate has to stand up and ask it clearly and with eye contact. The interviewee must answer in complete sentences and expand on their answers (yes/no answers are not allowed.)

Everyone in the room, including myself, is taking notes on the interviewee’s answers. Once students have asked all 10 questions it then opens up to questions they want to know. Of course, the rule of thumb is school-appropriate questions (or as I like to explain, questions you can ask in front of the principal, your mother, and your grandmother).

It is probably best that if you were going to do this activity for the first time that you model it. The first time Inside Room 801 was launched, I was in the hot seat. I modeled how to expand on answers and give thoughtful responses.

This activity not only allowed me to get to know my students in a safe and structured manner, but it allowed me to give basic presentation advice like: keep your feet on the floor, project your voice, look at the person, etc. All things students will need to know for a successful job interview!

Below is what I created for my students as a handout to practice prior to their interview.

Inside Room 801

Below is a list of questions that a classmate will ask you for your interview. You need to prepare for your 15-minute interview by thinking of these answers and EXPANDING your thought. Your classmates will also be able to ask more questions if you complete all of these.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

Good response:
What is your favorite book that you’ve read?

My favorite book is The Giver. It was the first book that I read where it was futuristic and a “perfect” world. It was crafted well, it amazed me in the manner it was written, with characters being told what their job would be at the age of 12, who their spouse would be, even applying to be a parent!

Bad response:

The Giver. It was good.

“Inside Room 801” Standard interview questions

  1. Who is a role model for you?
  2. What is your favorite book that you’ve read?
  3. What is your best childhood memory so far?
  4. What is the toughest thing you have ever had to do?
  5. What profession would you like to attempt?
  6. What profession would you NOT like to do?
  7. What do you think is your best feature (physical trait)?
  8. What do you think is your best character trait? (honest, loyal, hard working, etc.)
  9. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you travel?
  10. What are your plans after high school?