In this lesson, students prepare to interview a wider range of local leaders and explore the connection of civic hospitality to their work.
- Students will plan and conduct an additional interview with a local leader.
- Students will examine the processes and postures that contribute to the common good in the work of local leaders.
As with the previous lessons in this sequence, the focus is on process, and not just on content. We hope that students will learn more about various forms of civic engagement going on in their community, and that the process itself will offer opportunities to practice hospitality and collaboration through peer feedback. As students turn to focusing on the practicalities of their interview plans, be sure to keep the larger theme of civic hospitality in view.
Note that this lesson sequence presupposes that students have had some engagement with the frameworks explored in the lessons on Hospitality. Without such engagement the connection to faith will be less clear. Consider the degree to which you want to explicitly review those earlier connections at the start of or during this lesson sequence.
Preparing the Activities
For this lesson you will need:
- Copies of the handout Leader Interviews, provided as a pdf.
Teaching the Activities
Begin by returning to the debrief of the interview from the previous class, summarizing what was shared then, and asking students if they have any additional reflections or questions after having more time to digest the interview.
Phase 1: Orientation (10 minutes)
If (as recommended) you have used the relevant earlier lesson plans in this resource, reintroduce the frameworks from the lesson on A House (walls, doors, tables) and/or the lesson on Political Postures (hit/hug/handshake/heal), as well as the larger framing idea of approaching differences with others in the civic space through a lens of hospitality. If you have not used these lessons, take a few extra minutes to introduce one of these frameworks and explain its connection to civic interaction.
Explain to students that they are going to prepare to conduct an interview in pairs with another local leader of their choice. Explain that part of the purpose will be to learn more about different forms of local civic engagement and part of the purpose will be to continue to explore how a hospitality framework might help us to think well about working together with people of different perspectives for the common good. Mention that students will choose who to interview and will need to plan what to ask within an assigned framework.
Give students copies of the handout Leader Interviews, provided as a pdf.
Phase 2: Selecting interviewees (10 minutes)
Take a few minutes to think aloud with the class about who counts as a leader and who is engaged in civic processes. A civic leader is not necessarily someone with a formal political office. For this activity, we are looking for people who work for the wider benefit of the community, engage with a diverse cross-section of the community, and are responsible for a civic initiative. They might be involved in politics, or leading a public service or a non-profit, or organizing support for a cause, or running a neighborhood association. The net should be cast broadly to make it feasible for all students to find interviewees within a reasonable time frame. Ask the class for examples and supply additional examples to broaden their sense of what is possible.
Organize students in pairs. Ask students to think back to the question on the homework from the previous class about who they know who is in a leadership role. Ask them to take a few minutes to think about who they could approach for an interview and fill in three possibilities in the first section of the handout. Ask them to mark which would be their first, second, and third choice, and to make a note of how they could contact them or what they need to find out to contact them. It will be helpful to have both members of each pair complete the sheet so that they both have a record of the plan of action, and so that they can complete the peer review process in phase 4 below.
Phase 3: Preparing questions (15 minutes)
Briefly review the discussion of different types of questions from the first lesson in this sequence. Remind students that there will be a limited amount of time during the interview, and so they will have to choose questions strategically. Review the question categories in the second section of the handout with the whole class.
Then ask students to first work in pairs to brainstorm as many questions as they can for each category. Explain that they will narrow down the list later.
Next, ask the students, still in pairs, to choose the best two questions in each category. These are the ones that they will use in their interview. Make sure that both members of each pair have a list of the questions chosen.
Phase 4: Reviewing questions (15 minutes)
Then ask each pair to divide and have each member pair up with a member of another pair. Ask them to review one another’s questions using the prompts in the third section of the handout and suggest any improvements. As you announce this activity, make clear that it is completely acceptable to notice that another pair has come up with a better question and substitute it for one of your own. This is not cheating; it is collaborating for better results.
Give students time to complete the review, then ask them to return to their original pairs, report back what suggestions they received, and decide together on final wording for their questions.
Phase 5: Planning the interview (10 minutes)
Conclude the class with instructions for carrying out the interviews:
- Set a time frame for contacting interviewees and completing the interview. Give students enough time to allow for the busy lives of those they plan to interview and for their need to plan their own schedules and coordinate with their partners—at least a week, perhaps two would be appropriate.
- Ensure that each student can arrange an interview in a safe space. Some suggested options might be a coffee shop, on campus in the front office/library/media center/counseling center, or in a public space such as a reception area at the leader’s workplace. If students are visiting workplaces off campus, have them arrange to go with a partner and inform parents. Consider transportation needs with them—will they have to get to anywhere, and how do they plan to do so? Consider holding the interviews virtually over Zoom, Teams, etc. and recording them in that environment as a way to minimize issues with travel and safety.
- Ensure that each person has access to a device on which to record the interview. A phone recording or a meeting recording from a Zooms/Teams/etc. call is entirely acceptable—discourage students from focusing excessively on production values for this activity; the main thing is obtaining a clear recording.
- Emphasize that the interview is to be done with both partners present (among other things, this will enhance student safety) and remind students to plan for who asks which question, and to inform their parents about their plans.
- Remind students to think about how to be hospitable to their interviewee through location, body language, and appropriate communication, including thanks.
Assign students to conduct their interviews. Once the interviews are complete, you can respond to them in a variety of ways, including:
- Ask students to submit a one-page reflection on their interview that considers how the leader’s community engagement, approach to others, and faith provide a constructive example for how to engage the student’s own community.
- Have students post their videos to a secure online space and ask students to choose another pair’s video to review.
Conduct a class discussion in a subsequent class session about what was learned from the interview process, especially in relation to the connection between Christian hospitality and civic engagement. Focus on how an approach to civic engagement rooted in hospitality is relevant to civic processes at work in the local community and to specific ways in which students can engage, now or in the future.
Hosting an interview
In this lesson, students conduct a more extended interview with a local leader and explore the relevance of civic hospitality to their work.