Role Reversal Shows Teacher What It Means to Be a Student

By Jordan Moeny — October 26, 2014 1 min read
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Despite countless hours spent at school, many teachers only ever see their classroom from one perspective: the front. Veteran teacher Alexis Wiggins decided to change that, shadowing two students at the high school where she now works as a learning coach.

The experience was eye-opening: After only two days, she had realized that she had no idea what the student experience was truly like. In a blog post published earlier this month, Wiggins explains that most of what she learned can be boiled down to one main idea: being a student is a long, boring experience. After years of being constantly on her feet and in motion, Wiggins says she suddenly found herself being asked to sit still for an entire day, often passive, and realized that students had almost no influence on what they were being taught.

To her surprise, all of that sitting quietly was exhausting:

By the end of the day, I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch ... I was drained, and not in a good, long, productive-day kind of way.

Wiggins noted that she also discovered some of her blind spots as a teacher. She found that as a student, she felt “a little bit like a nuisance.” She was constantly reminded to sit down and pay attention and was the target of the same sort of sarcasm she had employed in her own classes.

Though Wiggins works at a private school overseas, students and teachers in American schools can probably relate on some level. Her comments are echoed in a follow-up post written by her father, Grant Wiggins, who published the original post on his blog.

Maybe not all teachers can take a day off to shadow their students, but the idea of taking a walk in a student’s shoes is an interesting one. Clearly even experienced teachers can learn something new when they put themselves in a different role.

Image from Pixabay/Creative Commons

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.