Shadow a Student

Excerpt from the short film, The Innovation Playlist.  Watch the full film here.

Try It

You’ll learn volumes by walking in the shoes of a student for an entire school day and reflecting on the experience. Even better? Have each member of your “Committee of Ten” shadow a (different) student and share reflections. Be sure shadowers and shadowees span the entire spectrum. Include after-school activities, since great learning takes place in clubs, arts initiatives, and athletics.

In your shadowing exercise, look for the bright spots — student experiences that reinforce the essential competencies of your Portrait of a Graduate. Brainstorm about how to build on these bright spots.

With complicated schedules, no need to complete every shadowing experience on the same day. There are advantages to spreading these out over a couple of weeks. Also, while in-person is ideal, you can make a go of this virtually by participating in the student’s “Zoom life” and occasional check-ins.

Discuss It

  • What is your overall reaction? How did observations vary across different types of student (e.g., academic achievers vs those who hate school)? Across different shadowers?
  • Did students alter their behavior, or did you observe ‘the real deal’?
  • Which student experiences help build the competencies of your school’s profile of a graduate? Which are irrelevant? Which are detrimental? How can you do more of what’s beneficial?
  • How might you share these insights with your school community?


Go Deeper

Check out School Retool’s Shadow A Student Challenge Guide.
Watch this clip from PBS News Hour documenting one principal’s experience during the first ever National Shadow a Student Day.