LuLu Project Interview Assignment

All education students must complete the LuLu assignment during their first year in the program. For this assignment, the student will choose a former or local teacher and conduct a series of interviews with them about their experiences teaching in the public school system. Students will then use these interviews along with their own research and personal experiences to write several essays exploring various topics having to do with teaching. They will work on these essays over the course of two semesters and eventually get them published into a book.

Some topics that students may be asked to write about

  • The context of schooling: How does the community of the mentor teacher’s school influence the teaching and learning that happens within it?
  • Educational inputs: What does a school need to function successfully? What kinds of teachers? What kinds of administration? What resources?
  • Contributing to the community: How does your mentor teacher’s school reproduce the community that it belongs to?


The purpose of the assignment is to allow students to explore the field of teaching and ultimately find out whether a career in education is really for them. They will have the opportunity to ask their mentor teacher about the challenges and rewards of teaching. The writing should be both informational and reflective.

General Expectations

The individual essays should be treated like research papers. It is okay to include personal experiences and to use personal pronouns in these essays, but they should nonetheless be written in APA format and incorporate outside research along with these reflective elements. Students are allowed to address a variety of different topics in a single essay. It is important that the commentary of the mentor teacher is present throughout the essay. If the student wants to talk about a topic that they did not discuss with their mentor teacher, it is always okay to go back and ask more questions even after the interview has been conducted. Students will also need to use readings referenced in class and possibly conduct outside research to complete the project. Primary sources are great sources of data. Graphs, charts, and pictures can be included. Secondary sources can be used as additional sources of commentary. Professors will go over their expectations for the style of the paper in detail, so be sure to ask your student to look for their professor’s expectations on Blackboard.

Interview Guide

For the LuLu book project, you will conduct a series of interviews with your mentor teacher. In order to maximize the results of these interviews, there are a series of steps that you can take that will help ensure efficiency. 

Tips to consider when preparing to conduct your interviews:

Read and understand the prompt before compiling a list of question; be sure that you really know what it is asking, and rephrase the assignment in your own word

Consider how you want to approach addressing the prompt, and create a rough outline or list of ideas to inform the questions you create

Compile a list of questions that…
  • Are relevant to the prompt and are well-informed
  • Will increase your understanding of the topic
  • Will theoretically advance your writing in a predictable way
  • Are open-ended (avoid yes or no questions!)
  • Leave room for follow up questions – if you have a list of 5 questions and only stick to those, your interview will be too short and contrived to make much of an impact on your paper
When it comes time to actually conduct your interview, keep the following in mind:
  • E-mail communication will severely limit your ability to ask follow up questions, but will give you concrete answers to return to when it comes time to write your chapters
  • Talking on the phone is a great way to solve this problem; if you do not feel comfortable talking with your mentor on the phone, you may want to reconsider who you have selected
  • If you are in a position to conduct your interview in person, try to make it work as it is the ideal situation – you are free to ask follow up questions, and it is less uncomfortable than talking on the phone can be
  • Take notes! Direct quotations are ideal, but paraphrasing the idea is more important
    • If you are taking notes by hand, you want to capture the essence of what they are saying; if you worry too much about getting the exact words, you will probably miss out on half of what they said
    • This can be avoided if you are in person and can record the interview, which can be done with most cell phones and laptops. You can play back the recording and compile direct quotations from it
  • Be punctual and prepared – remember, your mentor is doing you a huge favor in taking the time to talk to you, and you do not want him or her to feel as though you are unprepared
  • If the interview naturally ends earlier than you hoped, do not try to extend it; you are better off taking the time to compose your thoughts and send them a few follow up questions via email than trying to come up with things on the spot
    • There is a difference between asking an “off the cuff” question to clarify a response or build on what they are saying and making things up on the spot to make the interview last longer. The latter probably won’t do much to help your paper.
    • That being said, don’t be afraid to ask questions out of curiosity – treat it like a conversation, not an inquisition
Thank your mentor for giving you their time – these conversations are very valuable, so make sure they know how much you appreciate them!