Cultural Synchronization Questions

What questions might you ask focal student in an informal one-to-one?

  • What types of activities and/or traditions do you do with your family?
  • Do you have any special family meals over the weekend? If so, what do you eat? 
  • Who are some family members that you are close with that don’t live with you? When do you see them and what kinds of things do you do?
  • What are the various kinds of music your family plays at home? Which is your favorite?
  • What radio stations do you listen to?
  • What are 2-3 of your favorite songs right now?
  • What chores or responsibilities do you have at home?
  • What’s your favorite family tradition?  
  • What are important holidays that you celebrate?  
  • Do you play video or online games? If so, what are your favorites? 
  • What sports do you enjoy watching or playing?
  • What do you like to watch on TV? What do you like about that show?
  • What do you like to read?
  • When you are having a bad day, what friends or staff do you turn to?
  • When was the last time you felt listened to?
  • What embarrasses you? What frightens you? What makes you mad or angry?
  • What is your favorite color? How does this color show-up in your life? (e.g., clothes, shoes, accessories, binder, etc.)
  • Who do you want to be like in life?  (who do you look up to?)  
  • Who’s that on your shirt/notebook/binder/etc.?
  • What do you see yourself doing when you are a grown-up?
  • What is something that you are you proud of? 
  • What is your most prized possession?
  • What do you like to do over three day weekends and holiday breaks? On the weekends?
  • What do you like to eat for lunch? Where do you eat lunch during the school day?  With who?  
  • Who from this school do you hang out with outside of school?  
  • Which teachers/staff did you connect with most at school last year? Why? (who gets you?)
  • Which teachers/staff do you connect with this year? 
  • Who is the funniest teacher you’ve ever had? How were they funny?  
  • Who was the meanest teacher you’ve even had? What did they do?
  • Which teacher (going back to Kindergarten) helped you learn and grow the most? What kinds of things did they do? What was your best memory of elementary school?


  • Don’t make assumptions about students’ background knowledge or students’ interests, parents’ intentions. Put aside preconceived ideas, and refrain from passing judgment. 
  • Ask follow up questions.
  • Find ways to make connections to your own personal experiences.
  • Paraphrase—restate in your own words—what you think the student has said (show you’re listening).

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