Procedure: Interview

Coaching Process > Interview


In the first meeting with the teacher, you will conduct a Getting to Know You Interview. As the name implies, it is for you to learn more about the teacher both professionally and personally. The first meeting sets the stage for the entire coaching relationship and for gathering information about the classroom. Typically, the meeting lasts between 30 to 45 minutes; ideally, it occurs in one setting but can be spread across two meetings if needed given the constraints on a teacher’s time.

The main purpose of the Getting to Know You Interview is to build a trusting, collaborative relationship with the teacher. In addition, it is helpful to learn about past experiences the teacher has had with coaching or consultation in an effort to remedy any misperceptions. Lastly, the interview is a way to help you learn more about the teacher’s values and perceptions toward helping them meet personal development goals.

There are five elements to an effective interview:

1) Create a partnership  with the teacher. Using collaborative language (“we”) will help you to reach the ultimate goal of this session, which is to build rapport with the teacher.
2) Clarify the purpose of the interview and expectations for the entire consultation relationship.
3) Ask questions in a conversational manner, but provide structure for guiding the interview through selective open-ended questions and reflections.
4) Use effective listening skills. As a rule, you will find that the teacher does more talking than you during the interview. As an effective listener, you will use open-ended questions, provide affirmations, reflect back what you hear the teacher saying, and provide brief summaries of the conversation.
5) Explore a teacher’s values in relation to their personal and professional development goals.

How To 

Conducting the Getting to Know You Interview

The first meeting is a guided “Getting to Know You Interview” that follows a series of questions. The meeting can be broken into the following four steps.

Opening the Meeting

Begin by explaining the purpose of your meeting and the structure of the Double Check CCU process. Indicate that you will collect information from the teacher during this meeting and that you will also visit their classroom to collect more information during the coming week. Following your classroom visits, you will set up a second meeting, ideally, within two to three weeks after the first meeting. This is when you will share the information you gathered and help the teacher develop a plan based on that feedback.

Quotation Mark

My role is to support you in any way that you find helpful in building your classroom management skills and improving the climate and culture of your classroom environment. Today, I’m going to ask you some questions about your background and your current practices and ask you to fill out some forms. I’ll come visit your classroom about three times to observe and collect data and then we will find a time to meet so I can share with you what I have learned. At that time, we can decide what, if anything, you would like to work on together.


Interview Guide

The interview guide consists of a series of open-ended questions based on effective consultation. The questions proceed from broad aspects of the teacher’s experiences and background to more specific questions about classroom management and knowledge of their students’ cultural identities. Finally, questions regarding their expectations about and prior experiences with coaching will be asked.
CP1-Interview_DC GettingTo Know You Interview Guide
Ask the questions in a conversational manner. You may want to skip questions that you feel that you and the teacher may have already discussed. The questions and flow of the interview were designed quite intentionally to elicit conversation about critical classroom management variables, culturally relevant teaching and practices, and to evoke change talk from the teacher.

Using Effective Listening Skills

The interview guide will only work if you use it as a guide simply to learn more about the teacher. Listening skills are the foundation for making this happen.
Effective listening skills can be best summarized by the acronym OARS:
  • Open-ended questions: These are questions that require more than a single word response (like yes or no). Open-ended questions are a primary tool for eliciting change talk in motivational interviewing.
  • Affirmations: These are verbal or non-verbal behaviors that convey acceptance, support, and encouragement for the teacher.
  • Reflections: These are statements (not questions) that paraphrase comments made by the teacher. Simple reflections may repeat or rephrase what the teacher said. More complex reflections involve guessing at intended meanings or implied feelings.
  • Summaries: These are two- or three-sentence responses that try to link together a series of big ideas that were expressed during earlier parts of a conversation or that serve as a transition to another topic.
After asking open-ended questions from the interview guide, be sure to occasionally reflect, paraphrase, or summarize what the teacher is saying as a way to show you are listening, to invite continued conversations, to clarify what you are hearing or guessing about what the teacher is feeling, to support and encourage the teacher, and to link ideas that you hear the teacher expressing.

Honing Your Skills

The following video provides an example of a Getting to Know You Interview. Watch this brief interview and then answer the self-reflection questions below.

Self-Reflection Questions about the Interview Guide
Quotation Mark Ideally, the coach is comfortable with silence and allows space and time for the teacher to reflect on the questions. Even in brief interactions, it is important to appear calm and patient and not to rush the pace of the conversation.
Quotation Mark He nodded his head, he made eye contact, he leaned forward, he repeated things back to the teacher that were said, and he asked clarifying questions.
Quotation Mark The coach is relaxed and sits in close proximity to the teacher. He smiles and nods his head. His tone of voice is calm and reassuring.
Values Card Sort
A primary goal of the Getting to Know You Interview is to learn more about the teacher’s personal values, as these facilitate the relationship between you and the teacher and also become critical for understanding and fostering the teacher’s motivation to improve classroom management skills and classroom climate. Although there are many ways to do this, including simply asking the teacher to tell you about their most important values, the strategy we have found to be most impactful and effective is to conduct a brief Values Card Sort task.

Values Card Sort Steps:

  1. Print the Values Card Sort procedure and 20-30 value statements in advance of the first meeting with the teacher. Add any additional values you think would be important to your work with the teacher.
  2. During the Getting to Know You Interview, ask the teacher to sort the cards into three piles:
      • Pile 1 = Very Important Pile 2 = Important Pile 3 = Less Important
        Values Card Sort Example
  3. After the teacher has completed the initial sorting of the values cards, ask them to choose the three most important values from the Very Important pile.
  4. Invite the teacher to discuss why they chose these three values as their most important ones.
  5. Write down the values and keep in mind the discussion of why the teacher selected these values in future meetings and discussions with the teacher.
Common Questions About the Values Card Sort
  • When do I do it? You can conduct the card sorting activity at any point during the first interview. Typically, it is done after the first set of interview questions about teacher experiences and background.
  • How long does it take? The Card Sort usually takes 5-10 minutes to complete depending on the length of the follow-up discussion.
  • Why should I do it? Discussing values is a way to learn a lot about a person in a short period of time. Most teachers find it very engaging and challenging. The Card Sort often evokes strong emotions, passions, and interest in changing, growing, and learning. Don’t be surprised if the teacher becomes emotional when discussing their values, as this activity taps into important ideologies for individuals.
  • What is my role? Your task is simply to listen to what the teacher says, reflect back what you hear, ask clarifying questions as needed, and validate what you hear (e.g., “That makes perfect sense,” “I can see why that is so important to you”).
Ending the Meeting
After completing the interview questions and Values Card Sort, your job is to summarize the meeting and prepare the teacher for the next steps. Provide a brief (about three or four sentences) summary of the most important points that you heard the teacher express during the meeting, including a statement about values that were discussed.


Quotation Mark
I feel like I learned a lot about you today. It’s clear how important it is for you to be a role model for students and make each student in your class feel important and special. There are many things going well in your classroom. If you could change one thing, it would be to feel more organized at the start of each day. Is that a good summary?
Next, get permission to visit the classroom to observe (see Setting Up an Observation). Ask the teacher the best times to observe to see their instruction and any specific times of days they think would be most important for you to see (e.g., most challenging times of the day). Finally, schedule a time to meet again, ideally within two weeks or so. Explain that you will share all the information you will gather during your classroom visits and observations with the teacher and then work with them to develop a plan that will positively impact their classroom.

Reflection & Tips:

CP1-Interview-DC Reflection
Take a moment to reflect on your skills and comfort in conducting a Getting to Know You Interview.

References to Other Relevant Resources:

Herman, K. C., Reinke W. M., Frey, A., & Shepard, S. (2014). Motivational Interviewing in Schools: Strategies for Engaging Parents, Teachers, and Students. New York: Springer

Reinke, W., Herman, K., & Sprick, R. (2011). Motivational interviewing for effective classroom management: The classroom check-up. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

CARES Overview

Greeting Students at the Door

Using Journals to Build Relationships

Identifying Reinforcers for the Classroom

Using Social and Emotional Coaching

Using Behavior-specific Praise

Using Active Supervision

Using Group Contingencies

Using Precorrection

Teaching Behavior Expectations

Providing Academic Feedback

Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Developing and Using Clear Academic Objectives

Posting and Using a Schedule

Coaching Process – Menu of Options

Coaching Process – Providing Feedback

Coaching Process – Introduction and Overview

Observation Practice 4

Observation Practice 3

Observation Practice 2

Observation Practice 1

Using an Attention Signal

Teaching Classroom Routines

Physical Classroom Structure

Values Card Sort – Example

Card Sort Introduction

Coaching – Interview Guide

Opening the Meeting

Defining and Teaching Classroom Rules

Mrs. James

Miss Faber

Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate

Concentration Areas: Smooth Transitions, Pacing of Instruction, Student Engagement, Clear Expectations, Use of Praise, Use of Reprimands, Level of Disruptive Behavior

What is Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate?

Positive Behavior Supports refers to the proactive ways that teachers work with their students, as well as the ways that teachers respond to challenging situations with students. The focus is on recognizing and affirming student strengths rather than punishing them or taking something away from them. A positive approach to the classroom will promote a classroom climate that is welcoming to all students and is a place where students want to engage with the teacher, each other, and the curriculum. All individuals, students and teachers, and the interactions between and amongst all classroom members play a role in the climate.

There is no single element that works independently of the others. All Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate elements, together with the CARES domains, support one another and need to be applied to the classroom to be successful.

Why is it important?

In a classroom climate that is positive and welcoming to all members, the classroom becomes a safe place where culture and diversity can be openly discussed. A supportive climate is one that promotes student engagement and success. Students feel supported and motivated to be an active member of the classroom community. The teacher taking a positive and proactive approach creates a climate of care and respect and promotes desired student behaviors. This classroom is also a place that provides consistency to students, which is especially important for students who may experience stress and uncertainty outside of the school building. Teachers who have positive and proactive classrooms report fewer disruptive behaviors from their students, an increase in student achievement, and better overall perceptions of school climate.


Concentration Areas: Connection to the Curriculum; Authentic Relationships; Reflective Thinking About Cultural, Racial/Ethnic, and Class Differences; Effective Communication; Sensitivity to Students’ Culture

What is CARES?

CARES is an acronym for the five domains that research has found to be successful in engaging students of culturally diverse backgrounds at school. Each letter refers to a significant element of interaction within the classroom. Applying all five domains of CARES works because it promotes a better understanding of students and ourselves by using strategies that deepen those relationships every day.

There is no single element that works independently of the others. All five CARES domains, together with the Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate elements, support one another and need to be applied in the classroom to be successful.

Why is it important?

Research has shown that each of the five CARES domains has a significant impact on students and their behavior when used regularly and over time. Students who are known and understood by their teachers as individuals in the classroom report deeper connections academically and to their school. When teachers understand their own cultural heritage, they better understand the differences between themselves and their students and report higher levels of mutual respect with students. This also helps teachers to recognize the similarities they share with their students as well as recognize ways in which they are different. Students are more connected and engaged in classrooms where teachers welcome exploration; invite, acknowledge, and celebrate cultural differences; make relevant connections to the curriculum; listen attentively to understand how each student is approaching the concepts; and use humor and other effective communication tools.

Double Check Classroom Check-Up Overview