Last Friday was an awesome day! Due to a little peer pressure from my #principalsinaction PLN, I accepted the #shadowastudent challenge. I cleared my calendar of everything and was able to spend the day with not one student, but two. I actually started my day as the basketball coach of the first student, 8th grader JT, pictured below.
JT and me in Algebra, reviewing of a quiz.
After practice, JT and I had Algebra. I was lucky enough to be part of a review game that involved basketball. Each team that answered the question were given the opportunity to shoot a basket for points. Even with a team containing the coach and two basketball players, we didn't fair very well in the game. Honestly, the class period went by quickly and I had great fun while still reviewing and learning.
After Algebra it was time to move on to Social Studies. The students were learning about Revolutionary War battles and famous people, choosing a battle or person to learn about on their own. I was able to sit with JT and his friends, helping out with research and suggestions. The conversations weren't all about their project, and that's alright. They are social middle school students and, not unlike their principal, they like to find ways to talk about what's important to them while still getting work done.
It was then time for lunch and recess, arguably the most social part of the day for our middle schoolers. I was lucky enough to be in the cafeteria (As you will find out, I didn't eat lunch twice) with JT, sat with him and his friends, and then went outside. Although I love basketball, I didn't join in the basketball game that JT was playing. It just seemed like a good time to stop this shadow and get ready for the next.
Ashley and me in class
I took 10 minutes to check in my office and then it was time for lunch and recess with Ashley, a 5th grader. Lucky for me there were mini-corndogs on the menu, my favorite. I sat and ate with Ashley and her friends, having a great conversation all the while. We went outside for recess and I kept my distance while she and her friends were talking. As soon as recess was over, it was time for math.
Math was always one of my favorite subjects and I actually enjoyed taking tests. So guess what? Today was a test day. Mrs. Jones, Ashley's math teacher, had an extra copy of the test so I joined in the fun. I had to ask Mrs. Jones a question and she politely answered it for me. I finished the test and turned it in and waited patiently for the students to finish. As you can see below, I'm just as smart as a 5th grader, at least on this day.
When math class was over, we went to band. I forgot my instrument, a trumpet, and sat with Ashley in the flute section. I even got to direct the band for a few minutes. The students did well and I pretended to play a flute during the entire band class. It was really fun to be back in the band again. While the band was playing, I had a chance to snap this selfie.
After band, we returned to class for the Oscars. The students had all made Oscars for another student in class. The students and I each had a ticket and walked in on the red carpet. Below is a picture of Ashley receiving her "positivity" Oscar and trophy. It was the best part of my day as I was able to hear so many positive things about the students in Mrs. Jones' class. As soon as the Oscars were over, we cleaned up the room and put it back in order.
If the day had ended there, that would have been an awesome day. It only got better. As I was leaving, I received a text from one of our teachers. A student didn't have a ride home so I was able to give him a ride. He was in another class and they had also done the Oscars. Our entire discussion on the way home was about the Oscar he received. As I was driving and listening, I looked over and just saw him beaming with joy. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
Here are my takeaways.
#1. Our teachers do some amazing things. They love our kids unconditionally. They prepare for the expected and then the unexpected happens. And they deal with it like it was expected.
#2. There isn't a lot of movement for our students during the day. It was evident to me that we need to try to incorporate more time for movement in our classes, especially in our block classes. I really believe that will help improve student engagement and if done properly, I think that students will be able to focus better for shorter periods of time and will actually produce better work samples.
#3. Until I was in the hallway, I didn't see another adult in many of the classes. That is both good and bad. It's good because the teachers are with the kids but it's bad because there is so much that teachers can learn from one another.
#4. Lunch and recess are great breaks in the middle of the day. They can also be difficult breaks in the middle of the day. The lack of structure is both positive and negative. Although I'm out at recess almost every day, I really saw recess differently when I was a "student".
#5. I need to shadow a teacher for the day. And if one of our teachers has gotten all the way to the end of this blog, email me and I'll use a random selector to pick the lucky winner.