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Teacher Spends Two Days as a Student, Discovers What She's Missed

Teacher Spends Two Days as a Student, Discovers What She's Missed

How well do teachers know what a student goes through? One teacher decided to put it her assumptions to the test. 

Alexis Wiggins, 15-year teaching veteran followed two students for two days and wrote about it in a blog post featured on The blog begins with the sentence: "I have made a terrible mistake."

"I waited 14 years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day," she said. "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 – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!"

Wiggins is currently a high school learning coach, whose job is to "work with teachers and administrators to improve student learning outcomes."

"As part of getting my feet wet, my principal suggested I 'be' a student for two days: I was to shadow and complete all the work of a 10th grade student on one day and to do the same for a 12th grade student on another day," Wiggins said. "My task was to do everything the student was supposed to do: if there was lecture or notes on the board, I copied them as fast I could into my notebook. If there was a Chemistry lab, I did it with my host student. If there was a test, I took it [I passed the Spanish one, but I am certain I failed the business one]."

Wiggins also mentions some "key takeaways" that she gathered from her experiences. The first key was that "students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting."

"I could not believe how tired I was after the first day," she said. "I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot – in front of the board, pacing as we speak, circling around the room to check on student work, sitting, standing, kneeling down to chat with a student as she works through a difficult problem…we move a lot."

But students move "almost never", and never "is exhausting," she said, and by the end of the day, "I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch."

Wiggins said if she could go back to her classroom, she would change three things:

  • mandatory stretch halfway through the class
  • put a Nerf basketball hoop on the back of my door and encourage kids to play in the first and final minutes of class
  • build in a hands-on, move-around activity into every single class day. Yes, we would sacrifice some content to do this – that’s fine. 

Read the full story

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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