In this classic, the late Grant Wiggins shares the experience of a teacher who shadowed two students for two days.
The whole thing is worth reading, but her three (related) takeaways:
Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.
High School students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes.
You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long. I lost count of how many times we were told be quiet and pay attention. It’s normal to do so – teachers have a set amount of time and we need to use it wisely. But in shadowing, throughout the day, you start to feel sorry for the students who are told over and over again to pay attention because you understand part of what they are reacting to is sitting and listening all day.
Considering how much teachers complain when they spend a day sitting in professional development, it's unfortunate that we forget what our students endure all day every day.
We spend a lot of time in schools observing teachers, trying to quantify good teaching. But much could be learned by focusing on students and their experiences. I wonder what a student shadowing program would look like at my school, and what insights it might provide.
Teachers work hard, but I now think that conscientious students work harder. I worry about the messages we send them as they go to our classes and home to do our assigned work, and my hope is that more teachers who are able will try this shadowing and share their findings with each other and their administrations.