For my junior AP English class, we always end the year with creating a college portfolio. Students gather information to use for applications in the fall. They draft application essays, create or update a resume, draft a business letter to request a recommendation, and fill out a college application, among other things.
Because of Zoom, I am also able to complete a part I’ve never been able to: practice interviews. Students sign up for a 15-minute time slot with me for an online interview, which I record and then share with them. They watch their video, and draft a short reflective essay on their body language, answers to my questions, and how to prepare for future interviews. So far I’ve done 52 of them, and this is my favorite part of remote learning. For some of my quiet students, it’s actually the longest conversation I’ve ever had with them all year!
Here are some of the questions I asked my juniors:
- Tell me about yourself: what would you like an employer to know?
- What are your educational and career goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Tell me about your strengths; what are you good at?
- What areas where you are weak, and how could you improve?
- Describe your resume: what are you involved in outside of school?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- What is something you’ve accomplished that you are proud of?
- Describe a mentor figure in your life who you look up to. Why do you admire him or her?
- Tell me about a book you’ve read that made you see the world in a new way or you particularly enjoyed.
The most popular weakness in the class of 2021? Procrastination.
Many cited their freshman year as a time of mistakes: they wish they had gotten more involved, been a better friend, or asked for help when they needed it.
Some of books that changed the class of 2021: The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan), Outliers (Malcom Gladwell), Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls), A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas), Legend series (Marie Lu), Overachievers (Alexandra Robbins), and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley).
I’m super excited about how many are finding time to read for fun (for many, the first time since grade school!). While I miss my students desperately, I have really enjoyed these short one-on-one conversations to get to know them better. As traumatizing as this lockdown period has been, I have great confidence in our students’ abilities, compassion, and thirst for knowledge about their world. Thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers for our students!