School Climate & Safety

Watch: What a Principal Learned by Shadowing a Student for a Day

By Evie Blad — August 10, 2016 1 min read
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Earlier this year, I wrote about the Shadow a Student Challenge, a campaign that asks school principals to follow a student for one day in an effort to build empathy and identify issues that need to be addressed.

“You’re intending to really shift your position to not be the leader who is directing traffic and working on 47 things at once,” said Susie Wise, the K-12 lab network director for Stanford’s, which helped organize the event.

“One of the things you get to see is the space in between, for instance. You see transitions and you see posture,” Wise continued. “Some of the leaders who’ve done it have been surprised with how passive the student’s day is, how much sitting there is, how many transitions there are that don’t make much sense. You don’t see that when you’re looking at a master schedule and you’re in your leader mode. It’s very important work to make sure all of the pieces fit together, but then you have to also sit in it and see ‘how does this work for the student?’ ”

Organizers of the challenge encouraged the 1,300 participating school leaders to design “hacks,” simple, accessible actions that could address (or begin to address) any problems they identified through their observations.

So, how did the exercise affect its participants? Education Week followed Assistant Principal Karen Ritter of East Leyden High, outside Chicago, to see what she learned from observing her student’s routine. This piece originally appeared on PBS Newshour.

Further reading about understanding the student experience:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.