Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back to High School Taking the Shadow A Student Challenge

I had the opportunity to participate in a national event on Friday called Shadow a Student Challenge through School Retool connected with Stanford University. I took this challenge in order to gain a empathy for our students and a better understanding of how I can lead our school. I selected an 11th grader in our medical academy named Joslin because of the diversity of her schedule and her daily experience. I wasn't sure what I was in for as I had not been in the role of a high school student for almost 20 years. 

Throughout the day, I had several key learnings. I was comforted as to the positive relationships that I experienced between the staff and students as well as the respectful rapport from student to student. There was a definite sense of a supportive and respectful classroom community.
Joslin and Derek support each other by practicing for their upcoming Pre-Calculus Test.

In every class period, students wanted to go beyond the worksheet by having their thoughts and ideas be heard through dialogue, analysis, and debate. They wanted to be challenged, involved, and connected to their learning. I realized that we must show them how to use the devices (cell phones, iPads, etc.) that they are literally connected to in order to learn, investigate, and communicate with others. Whether it was a mock counseling session in Mr. Chittum's Psychology 2 class or learning to properly put on gloves based on a medical or surgical asepsis, students were most successful when immersed in hands on, real world lessons that they could collaboratively apply. I also noticed that when accountable to others the students did not want to let their peers down.

Joslin and I practice the appropriate way to put gloves on for surgery in Health Science class.

At times, there was some apprehension from the students and I (especially in Pre-Calculus class), thank you Mr. Marsh for not making me take the Pre-Calc quiz. However, the support from peers and the teacher prior to the quiz really helped to build confidence. I heard several students leaving the class expressing their feelings of greatness!
Ms. Miller, Joslin & I pose with the skeleton in Medical Interventions class.

In 6th period, I was assigned a one-pager summary in Medical Interventions about chemotherapy to research and share in a carousel debrief. I had to use my critical reading strategies, creativity, and think about something I had background knowledge with in a different way.

I truly appreciated Joslin's insights and patience with me in navigating the day as a high school student. As I asked the students throughout the day, "what do you like best about our school?," time and time again they stated, "Ridgewood gives us a lot of supports, options for learning, and the people really care."

When I returned to my office after the last bell, I had a message waiting from a Tampa Bay Times reporter wanting to follow my journey as a student for the day. My experience is featured in the article, "On Shadow a Student Day, it's the Principals turn to learn."

The Shadow A Student Challenge was a very reflective and rewarding experience for me. I am very thankful to have participated and look forward to learning about other experiences. I look forward to continuing the journey on how to facilitate connectivity in learning task and engagement through building GRIT in all learners!

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