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 teachers’ 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”), listening skills, affirmations, and evocative questions.
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 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. As a rule, you will find that the teacher does more talking than you during the interview.
5) Explore a teacher’s values in relation to their personal 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 Classroom Check-up process. Indicate that you will collect information from the teacher and observe in the classroom during the coming week. Then, you will set up a second meeting, ideally within a week or two after the first meeting, 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. 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 do some observations in the classroom and then we will find a time to meet so I can share with you what I have learned. At that time, you 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 their expectations about and prior experiences with coaching.
Getting to 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 and to evoke motivational speech in 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 repeat, paraphrase, or rephrase 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. Although there are many ways to do this, including simply asking the teacher to tell you about his or her 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. Ask the teacher to pick out the three most important values from the Very Important pile.
  4. Invite the teacher to discuss why the final three values are their most important values.
  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 do the card sort at any point during the first interview. We typically do it after the first set of interview questions about teacher experiences and background.
  • How long does it take? The Card Sort usually takes about 10 minutes to complete.
  • 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 summary of the most important points that you heard the teacher express during the meeting, including a statement about values that were discussed. By brief, we mean three or four sentences.


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 a week or so. Explain that you will share all the information you have gathered during your observations with the teacher and then work with them to develop a plan that will work in their classroom.

Reflection & Tips:

CP1: Interview - 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.

Example 2: Teacher Interview

Video Prompts

  • This teacher discusses the struggle between getting through academic work and building relationships.
  • She reflects on how building relationships can actually save time later on.

Reflecting On Video

  • How important is relationship building to you when working with your students?
  • What are some ideas for what you can do in your classroom to build positive relationships with even the students who are hardest to reach?

Example 1: Hug

Video Prompts

  • This teacher greets every student as they come in the door in the morning.
  • Notice how the teacher states each student’s name.
  • Notice that students choose how they want to be greeted by receiving a hug or high five. This allows all the students to feel comfortable with the greeting.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher greeted each student as they arrived?
  • How might you go about greeting each student?
  • What do you think the benefits are to greeting students every day?

Greeting Students at the Door

Using Journals to Build Relationships

Identifying Reinforcers for the Classroom

Example 2: Sharing

Video Prompts

  • A student is concerned about a peer using his pencil.
  • Notice how the teacher prompts possible solutions with a focus toward the students “doing their number one job.”
  • Notice how, despite the fact that the boy does not choose to share, the teacher compliments the peer who chose to give the pencil to the boy.
  • Notice how she points out that Sofia (peer) was so kind and was a good friend.
  • Notice how she calmly discusses how the boy in the video could think about sharing in the future.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used coaching to help the students solve the problem?
  • What might you do differently?
  • How do you see yourself using social-emotional coaching in your classroom?

Example 1: Problem Solving

Video Prompts

  • The students in this video are working together on an activity. One student comments that others are cheating.
  • Notice how the teacher recognizes the problem from across the room (see Using Active Supervision).
  • Notice how she prompts the students to find the solution.
  • Notice how she makes sure all the students understand the activity before leaving to help other students.
  • Her use of praise following a student responding helps to get other students on task and makes it more likely that students will respond quickly in the future.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used coaching to help the students solve the problem?
  • What might you do differently?
  • How do you see yourself using social-emotional coaching in your classroom?

Using Social and Emotional Coaching

Example 3: Learner Look

Video Prompts

  • Listen for the behavior-specific praise statement, “I like how Brooke is ready to go with her learner look.”
  • Notice how this teacher provides feedback to the students who are demonstrating they are ready by having a “learner look.”
  • The “learner look” would be taught to the students by the teacher prior to use (see Teaching Behavior Expectations).

Reflecting On Video

  • How can using behavior-specific praise help get students not ready to get on task more quickly?
  • What did you like about how the teacher used behavior-specific praise?
  • How do you think it made that student feel?
  • How might other students respond after hearing the teacher?
  • How might you use this strategy in your classroom?

Example 2: Calling on Student

Video Prompt

  • Watch how this teacher uses behavior-specific praise when calling on a student to answer a question.

Reflecting On Video

  • How does using behavior-specific praise make it clear to students what the expectation is at that time?

Example 1: Whole Class Compliment

Video Prompts

  • In this video, you will see a teacher using several strategies, including providing behavior-specific praise.
  • Notice how she uses both individual and group opportunities to respond (see Increasing Opportunities to Respond).
  • Listen for when the teacher says, “Let’s give Bailey a big hand for doing such a good job,” prompting the whole class to compliment a student.
  • Lastly, notice how she uses behavior-specific praise (“I like the way people are raising their hands.“) to let students know it is important to raise their hands to answer.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used praise in her classroom?
  • How do you think Bailey felt when her class recognized her good work?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Using Behavior-specific Praise

Example 3: Private Comments

Video Prompts

  • Notice how the teacher checks in with each student as they do independent work.
  • She comments on their work, provides feedback as needed, and gives a lot of praise privately to each student.

Reflecting On Video

  • How do you think the students felt as the teacher privately gave each praise or commented on their work?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Example 2: Moving Between Desks

Video Prompts

  • Notice how the teacher moves around the room between the desks, commenting on the work she sees as she goes.
  • Notice how the teacher provides behavior-specific praise (“I see very neat and pretty writing. Good job.“).

Reflecting On Video

  • How do you think the way the teacher moved around the room and commented on the work helped to keep students on task?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher actively supervised the students’ work?
  • What could you do to make it easier for you to move around your classroom and use active supervision?

Example 1: Dot Charts

Video Prompts

  • This video demonstrates a teacher using dot charts during active supervision.
  • Notice how the teacher comments on the student’s work, provides feedback, and then puts a dot on the student’s chart. When the chart is full, the student knows they will earn a reward.

Reflecting On Video

  • How might using dot charts with your students help keep them engaged in their work?
  • What did you like about the way the teacher used active supervision here?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw in this video into your daily teaching?

Using Active Supervision

The Good Behavior Game: Rule - No Talking

Video Prompts

  • Notice how the teacher introduces the game to the class and breaks them into groups.
  • The Good Behavior Game helps teach student self-regulation by having them inhibit or not display misbehavior. If misbehavior occurs, the team earns a point.
  • Notice how the teacher explains the rule for that day.
  • The teacher also lets the student know how long the game will occur and what the reward will be for the team with the fewest points.
  • Notice that the teacher allows the students to ask questions before the game begins.
  • Notice that the teacher provides the reward immediately at the end of the game.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used the Good Behavior Game?
  • How might you use the Good Behavior Game in your classroom?

Using Group Contingencies

Voice Level

Video Prompts

  • This teacher has already taught her students to use a number system to monitor the level of sound they should be using during an activity.
  • In this video, as she is passing out an assignment, she provides a precorrection to a make sure the students use the appropriate level of their voice (level 1 no more than level 2).

Reflecting On Video

  • How might giving this prompt prevent students from inadvertently being too loud during the assignment?
  • What did you like about how the teacher helped the students determine what level of sound was appropriate?
  • What activities or times of the day would it be useful to provide your students with a precorrection so that students know what to do before problems occur?

Using Precorrection

Teaching Behavior Expectations

Providing Academic Feedback

Example 4: Show Answers on Chest

Video Prompts

  • This teacher provides an opportunity to respond by letting all students answer the question and show her on their chest.
  • Notice how quickly the students respond, providing the teacher with quick feedback on whether everyone understands.

Reflecting On Video

  • What do you like about this way of having students answer?

Example 3: Yes Knocks

Video Prompts

  • This is an example of a teacher using “yes knocks” for students to respond to an academic question.

Reflecting On Video

  • How might you use this type of opportunity to respond in your classroom?
  • What would you do if students were not responding correctly?

Example 2: White Board

Video Prompts

  • This lesson demonstrates using white boards during math story problems.
  • Notice how the teacher uses a fast pace and lets the students know when they have completed the answer correctly.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher provided academic questions and gave students feedback?
  • How did she make fairly complicated math problems fun and interactive?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?

Example 1: Individual and Choral Responding

Video Prompts

  • Notice how she moves around the classroom as she asks questions of individual students.
  • She intersperses praise and describes what the students are doing well throughout.
  • She also asks the students to read and respond together.
  • She asks 14 OTRs in just over one minute. Wow!

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how the teacher included so many students and asked so many academic questions?
  • Why do you think the students were so engaged?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about from this video into your classroom practice?

Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Reviewing Writing Assignment

Video Prompts

  • Notice how she asks both individual questions and gets the attention of the room by saying, “I am looking for my active listener.
  • She tells them what book she will be reading, “Seeds to Plants,” when they return from lunch.
  • Notice how she describes what the students will be required to do on the handout. She engages the class by asking questions along the way.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how the teacher explained the objectives of the handout?
  • How do you think the students in that class are feeling?
  • How might you incorporate some of what you saw and liked about how she explained the lesson in your classroom?

Developing and Using Clear Academic Objectives

Reviewing the Schedule

Video Prompts

  • Notice how this teacher reviews the schedule for the day with the students first thing in the morning.
  • This teacher demonstrates writing in cursive (a skill the class is working on) while going over the schedule.
  • She also provides opportunities to respond (see Increasing Opportunities to Respond) by asking them to read the words as she writes them.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how the teacher reviewed the schedule for the day?
  • How could this be helpful to students?
  • How might you incorporate a review of the schedule into your mornings?

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

Verbal with Hand Signal

Video Prompts

  • The students in this video are very excited about the activity. The teacher uses an attention signal that uses both her voice and a hand signal. Notice how quickly the students respond.
  • Notice that the teacher provides behavior-specific praise to the students who respond (see Using Behavior Specific Praise)
  • Her use of praise following a student responding helps to get other students on task and makes it more likely that students will respond quickly in the future.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about how this teacher used this attention signal?
  • How could you use a similar attention signal to help with transitions or giving instruction to your students?


Video Prompts

  • This video shows a teacher using hand claps to gain the attention of the students before a transition.
  • Notice how the students clap back to show they know it is time to transition.
  • After gaining the attention of the students the teacher gives very specific directions so the students can transition smoothly.

Reflecting On Video

  • What did you like about this attention signal?
  • How does using a signal like this help students transition to the next task smoothly?
  • How might you incorporate this or other attention signals into your daily teaching?

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

Classroom Climate

What is Classroom Climate?

Classroom climate is a term used to give attention to a constellation of factors including teacher-student interactions, teacher tone, student-student interactions, the overall level of respect for one another, and classroom orderliness.
Quotation mark
Having positive, respectful teacher-student relationships is the foundation to effective classroom management.

Why is it important?

Positive classroom climates are ones in which students feel important, supported, respected, and valued. Classroom climates that foster effective teacher-student relationships are associated with increased academic engagement and student satisfaction with school. Climates where students do not feel respected or valued lead to student disengagement in school, resulting in higher levels of disruptive behavior.

Concentration Areas

Use of Noncontingent Attention
Interactions with Students
Level of Disruptive Behavior

Behavior Management

What is Behavior Management?

Behavior management is a term used to give attention to classroom strategies that respond to student behaviors and the extent to which these are done consistently. Effective behavior management is NOT about gaining student compliance. Instead, effective behavior management includes strategies to promote positive classroom behaviors and prevent problems before they occur, while responding to misconduct in a calm and consistent manner.
Quotation mark
Effective behavior management is proactive, placing emphasis on preventing problems rather than waiting to punish behaviors after they occur.

Why is it important?

Effective behavior management practices are linked to improvements in student social behavior and academics. Ineffective behavior management in the classroom can interfere with academic instruction, increase student risk for emotional and behavior problems, and lead to high levels of teacher stress.

Concentration Areas

Behavioral Expectations Clear
Active Supervision
Use of Praise
Use of Reprimands
Positive to Negative Ratio
Used Variety of Reinforcement

■ Instruction Management

What is Instruction Management?

Instructional management is a term used to give attention to teacher preparation of academic lessons and the extent to which academic instruction is rigorous, relevant, and delivered at a pace appropriate to the content. Effective instructional management keeps students engaged in learning and decreases disruptive or off-task student behaviors.
Quotation mark
Brisk pacing during teacher-led instruction has been shown to decrease problem behavior and increase academic achievement.

Why is it important?

There is a direct link between how instruction is delivered in a classroom and the behavior of students. Developmentally appropriate academic opportunities (i.e., those that are not too easy or too difficult) provide students mastery experiences that increase their academic efficacy. Further, when students are engaged in academic instruction, they have higher levels of achievement.

Concentration Areas

Schedule Posted and Followed
Academic Objectives Clear
Student Accuracy
Student Engagement

▴ Classroom Structure

What is Classroom Structure?

Classroom structure is a term used to describe the actual physical layout of a classroom, organization of materials in the classroom, and the extent to which classroom expectations and routines are explicitly defined and taught. Well-structured classrooms are predictable and organized.
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Crowded and cluttered classrooms can set the stage for problem behaviors.

Why is it important?

Well-structured classrooms increase efficiency, leaving more time for instruction and the promotion of positive academic and social behaviors among students. These include increased student attention, friendlier peer interactions, and less disruptive behavior and aggression.
Quotation mark
Well-structured classrooms have established routines that align with classroom rules and expectations.

Concentration Areas

Physical Layout
Classroom Rules
Classroom Routines
Smooth Transitions