Interview: Sometimes, If You Want to Know, Just Ask Your Students

Written by Kevin R. Fish, City Year AmeriCorps member serving on the Bain and Company Team at English High School.

I was curious to know what sort of impact I was having with one of my students, Darwell*. I figured that the best way to find out why he was making more progress than some of my other students was to interview him. I chose Darwell because this is the first year that he has had City Year in his classroom and he has showed significant progress. Right before I approached Darwell with my questions, I decided that it would be more authentic if I let him come up with the questions himself. This would prevent any bias that I would have subconsciously installed into my own questions. I was very impressed with the wisdom that he showed in the development of his questions and answers. I also thought an interview would be more interesting for him if he was the one making the answers and questions, since he loves to talk.

Darwell asks himself, “What did I first think of City Year?”
He states that, “At the beginning, I just thought City Year was ‘regular,’ like extra help in the classroom. I enjoyed having them for extra help, but didn’t really ask for it.”

I then ask Darwell what he means by ‘regular’ and his explanation turns into an interesting analogy. He tells me that his relationship with City Year is similar to when you like a girl and then she decides she likes you too, and then she becomes part of your everyday life.

My response: “So City Year is like your girlfriend?”
Darwell, after rolling his eyes, “Not exactly Mr. Fish”

“What are my thoughts of City Year now?”
“I think that City Year is okay, but sometimes aggravating. I know all of the CY people now, so I’m comfortable going up to anyone.”

“Do I think that CY has helped me?”
His response: “Definitely, they have helped me with my work and gave me wake-up calls and get me to class. I have a C+ in English now and was failing term 1 and 2.”

“What would I do without City Year?”
“I would fail. I would also be bored because I’d have no one to bother.”

I am so proud of the progress that Darwell has made in his school work and equally as proud of the progress that he has made establishing relationships with myself and other CY teammates. I caught him scribbling on his desk and instinctively told him to stop, until I realized he was writing “City Year.” I looked puzzled and he answered my confused look with confidence and stated, “City Year is going to save me.”

*names changed for privacy.

5 thoughts on “Interview: Sometimes, If You Want to Know, Just Ask Your Students

  1. This is a pretty amazing post — thanks for sharing, Kevin. You share a lot of great info and capture the essence of a early high school student!

  2. Pingback: Reblog: Interview: Sometimes, If You Want to Know, Just Ask Your Students « Jack's Journey To Joy

  3. Pingback: The “English” Translation: Your Guide to Student Vernacular |

  4. Pingback: Reblog: The “English” Translation: Your Guide to Student Vernacular « Jack's Journey To Joy

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