We are using cookies to give a better service experience. By using our services you agree to use cookies. Read more

Accept
Reject
All articles
search
clear

Shadow a Student

location_on San Francisco, United States

What can we learn from a day in the life of a student?

The Shadow a Student Challenge provides methods and a network to help school leaders take the time to build student empathy, especially for those students who may be at the margins, and translate insights gained into immediate action. Shadowing a student embodies the idea of 'walking in another's shoes' and can push leaders to challenge assumptions and establish deeper insights. It is an immersive experience in observation. While school leaders spend much time in classrooms throughout their school day, it’s often for just a few minutes at a time, or at most, one class period.

HundrED 2020
play_arrow

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2020

HundrED 2019

HundrED 2018

2017

Established

7.19K

Children/users

19

Countries
Organisation
Not-for-profit
Target group
Leaders
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
Take an empathy deep dive. Shadow a student to see what school is really like for your students.
Peter Worth - Shadow a Student

About the innovation

What is Shadow a Student?

Educators and researchers have long known that shadowing can lead to powerful observations and insights to drive change. The Shadow a Student Challenge provides methods and a network to help school leaders take the time to build student empathy, especially for those students who may be at the margins, and translate insights gained into immediate action.

Shadowing a student embodies the idea of 'walking in another's shoes' and can push leaders to challenge assumptions and establish deeper insights. It is an immersive experience in observation. While school leaders spend much time in classrooms throughout their school day, it’s often for just a few minutes at a time, or at most, one class period. Often, the focus is on instruction, behavior, or school business. What is missed is how these moments play into the whole student day. But if the goal is to serve all students in all aspects of their learning in our schools, leaders need to understand the full range of how students experience school. In particular, staff need to understand the experience of those students who may be underserved or at the margins of our school culture.

Shadowing a student gives  the opportunity to understand school from a student’s perspective by immersing fully in the experience of being a student for the day. Leaders start by seeing school through their student's eyes, identifying meaningful opportunities to improve the school experience for the students, and then taking action to create change at their school site. This is organized into 4 steps: Prep; Shadow; Reflect; and Act.

In a busy leader’s schedule, the main challenge is often time. The Toolkit provides a Prep Coordination Checklist to ensure that logistics are taken care of, enabling the leader to focus on the shadow day. 

The Shadow a Student Challenge is an initiative of School Retool. Coming out of IDEO and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, School Retool is a professional development fellowship that helps school leaders redesign their school cultures using small, scrappy experiments called “hacks.” In peer cohorts, school leaders practice the mindsets and a change framework to build toward a culture of Deeper Learning: mastering rigorous academic content, learning how to think critically and solve problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, directing one’s own learning, and developing a learning mindset.

The Shadow a Student Challenge is not the first attempt to encourage school leaders to walk in their students’ shoes. Educators, ethnographers, and researchers have long known the value of shadowing, especially to increase empathy for students. Many resources also encourage the practice, offer guidance for the experience, and provide tools to help educators use the insights they gain. 

The purpose in this challenge is to amplify this practice, create a community of leaders driven by empathy to make change in their schools, and, ultimately,  support them to take action toward Deeper Learning.  

 

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

The concept of shadowing for empathy is not new and many school leaders have seen the value in for some time, yet never been able to act on it. The challenge helps school leaders commit to taking the time to do it, reflect, and then act on their insights, in the context of a wider community.

Impact

Over 1,800 people signed up to shadow in 2017. Principals get an authentic insight into the realities of school for their students and this fresh outlook can be used to revolutionize the way school is organized and run.

Scalability

Educators from 50 states and 61 countries participated in the 2017 Shadow a Student Challenge. The challenge is open to all school leaders - at any school, anywhere in the world!

Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

Steps

Getting started
Check out the website and sign up to be part of the community...

The get started with the Shadow a Student Challenge, visit the website, shadowastudent.org. While there, sign up to join the community, and download the Tool Kit. It’s all free! As you get started, you’ll be guided through four steps: prep, shadow, reflect, act. 

Prep
Create learning goals for your Shadow Day, choose a student, and start questioning assumptions. The purpose of the prep phase is to help you prepare to have a meaningful shadow experience.

Shadowing a student is a professional learning experience. Creating a learning goal for your Shadow Day will help you get the most out of your experience. And your learning experience will depend a lot on the student you shadow. Give some thought as to how the student you select can help you meet your learning goal. Is there a student or student group you need to understand better? 

Shadow
Spend the entire day shadowing your student, capturing your observations along the way.

 During your shadow day, you won’t be evaluating classes, teachers, or your student. The goal is to immerse yourself in your student’s experience. Plan to spend the entire day getting to know his or her needs.

Reflect
Reflect on your observations, question them, and draw connections to opportunities for action. You’ll reflect on the meaning behind your observations and find opportunities for action.
Acting on the results
Based on your Shadow Day findings, create a hack, a small experiment for making changes at your school.

The purpose of shadowing students is to improve their school experiences. That means taking action! But it doesn’t mean solving everything at once. In the ACT step, you’ll try small experiments called ‘hacks’ to move your school toward Deeper Learning. The toolkit is full of ways to get started. The Shadow community is here to help, too!

The website and Toolkit are full of information and resources to support you in your work.

Spread of the innovation

loading map...