Teachers Shadowing Students

I am a tenth grade adviser. All the tenth grade advisers get together every week to discuss various tenth grade students, our tenth grade community service project, general trends we’ve noticed with the class, and so on and so forth.

In our meeting today, our dean said that she was going to shadow a tenth grade student soon. To see what that student goes through on a daily basis. We’ve been talking a lot about the stress that tenth graders feel — the increased expectations placed on them by their teachers and the increased responsibility they’re expected to take for their own learning. This idea was in response to that. So we can see at least a partial perspective.

The dean asked if any of us advisers wanted to follow a student, saying our school would pay for a sub. I of course volunteered.

This is possibly the best idea ever. For me, it’s less about understanding the stress of students. It’s more about experiencing what sitting in classroom after classroom, being asked to do thing after thing, by person after person, feels like. I’m going to relive what it’s like to be a student again. It’s been long enough that I don’t remember how exhausting (or not exhausting, who knows) the day is. But I’m curious to see my emotional reaction to being a student in various teachers’ classes. I’m also curious to see if I see myself in any of the other teachers — both in a good way and a bad way. (I can see me going “oh my god, this is annoying, and I do that all the time!”)

Anyway it was such a good idea that I thought I’d pass it along to y’all, in case it appeals to you too.

I’ll of course report back when I do it, with my findings.



  1. Will the other teachers know you’re coming? Do you think they’ll change their routine due to your presence? How are you choosing the student to shadow?

    I can’t wait to hear about it.

  2. @Jackie: I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, yet, because I think the dean is in the beginning stages of setting this up. I wonder if it will be uncomfortable following a student — awkward?

    I do suspect that teachers will change how they behave in my presence; how can they not? But I would suspect that the more mature teachers (not in years, but in terms of comfort with teaching) will just have a heightened awareness of what they’re doing… not do anything differently.

    I do hope that teachers are going to be told in advance, though, and given the option to decline. I don’t think that every teacher should feel *obligated* to open their classroom up to other teachers. Teachers new to my school this year, for example, might feel uncomfortable because they think they’re going to be judged and they’re not ready for that. They’re under enough stress as it is to have to worry about this.

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