This week I read a fascinating post on Grant Wiggin’s blog entitled A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Shadows 2 students for 2 Days – a Sobering Lesson Learned. She said of the experience, “I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things…”
She goes on to share her experience and her reflections on her 3 key 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.
It got me wondering what takeaways we might have if we were to shadow our elementary school students. I suspect we might find a few similar observations, but I also think that being in a self-contained classroom would have its own idiosyncrasies. I am sure I would have a lot more empathy for the students in my classes/ lessons, and some deeper insights into how they perceive the role of the teacher and the tasks they are given. I would love to take a day and just be a part of a class, not as the teacher or coach. I would like to try to follow the rules. No checking email. No going to the bathroom without permission from another person. No getting up when my back hurt or my leg falls asleep. I would need to do what was asked, when it was asked, and probably do it more quietly than I am used to. I would have to sit next to people who might annoy me or bother me and just ‘ignore them’. I would have to listen to people share answers that are incorrect or ideas that are confusing and not jump in with help or clarifying questions. I wouldn’t do it to critique other teachers, I would only want to experience the view from the other side of the desk to help inform my own teaching. (The last thing we need is more teacher bashing!)
So I’m not suggesting this to ‘dis’ teachers or the structures we have set up in our classrooms. I am truly curious about to walk a mile in another’s shoes. What does our classroom look like from the viewpoint of a child sitting in front of us? What are their concerns, questions or frustrations? What would a student think of my interactions or my directions? Would this experience cause me to change anything about my classroom or my discourse?
What do you think YOUR students might be experiencing that you hadn’t considered before? Would YOU want to be a student in your own classroom all day long? Knowing how much thought and intention goes into planning and engagement in our schools, I think many of us would answer yes, but I am wondering if we might tweak a few things with a different perspective. I’ll let you know if I get a chance to try this out. I’d love to hear YOUR perspective.
What’s On My Book Radar?
I’ve been trying to finish this book for a few weeks now. Attempting to balance my professional reading, my writing and my family life has left my personal reading with the ‘short stick’. As soon as I click “post” on this blog tonight, however, I am crawling under the covers to complete Kepler’s Dream. In this middle grade novel, Ella has been sent to stay with her eccentric grandmother when her own mother is ill with leukemia and undergoing a stem cell transplant. Staying with her father “wasn’t an option”. When her grandmother’s prized book Kepler’s Dream goes missing one evening the plot begins to read like the game CLUE. I love what Donalyn Miller posted on Goodreads in her review…”Books have bindings made of glue and thread and they bind us to each other, too. This quiet book about family, loss, and books touched me. It isn’t perfect, but it’s beautiful. Just like life.”
As I was searching the web for an image of the book I came across an article in Albuquerque News announcing that principal photography for the feature film “Kepler’s Dream” began in August. So if you want to be in-the-know with your students who love books that become films, you can encourage them to check out Kepler’s Dream by Juliet Bell.