Shadowing Students

What is it?

Shadowing Students is the process of following a student through all or part of a school day to gain insight into what a student experiences within the school setting. Educators can shadow in their own schools or other schools.  Generally, shadowing is approached in partnership with students, and students have an opportunity to share their perspectives on your approach to following them, and – at times - their daily classroom, hallway, and school experiences.  Educators and students develop an agreement regarding their interactions throughout the process.  For example, a student may want an educator to actually act like their shadow: follow along in a low-key manner, hang back when they are with friends, maintain a comfortable distance in classes, feel free to literally act like a shadow…

Guidelines to ensure confidentiality related to shadowing students should be clearly discussed with the student so that he or she understands the purpose of the experience, can work out the process with you, and feels confident about your commitment to confidentiality.  In addition, students should know that if they are uncomfortable, they can tell you so and, if she or he wishes, you will end the process.

Basic Design Questions:

1.   What do I want to learn and why?
2.   How will I set up the process so that it is do-able, productive and comfortable for all?
3.   I will I focus my attention? (What do I want to observe?)
4.   How will I take notes? (Considerations: What advance agreements do I want to work out with the student?  
      What kind of an inquiry stance do I want and how will I make note of facts/inferences/wonders? 
      Will I keep those separate or sort them out when I review my notes?

5.   How will I know what I have learned?
6.   What do I hope to do with the information that will support my effectiveness?

What else do I want to consider?

Potential Benefits
Educators who have engaged in shadowing students report they have developed:
•    New perspectives on a student’s experience of being in school 
•    Deeper understanding of interactions among students, and between students and teachers
•    Greater clarity about instructional and curricular practices
•    Awareness of support that exists (or doesn’t exist) for students with various levels of English language     
•    Insight into when and under what conditions students are most likely to focus their motivation
•    The amount and quality of student writing
•    Empathy for students and teachers
•    Ideas for school improvement

Site Administrator,
Jul 11, 2012, 6:04 PM