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CMIS Shadow a Student Challenge

During the month of February, over 1500 school leaders all across the world were signing up to participate in the Shadow a Student Challenge. The purpose of the day was for global educators to immerse themselves in a student’s school experience, and to spend an entire day getting to know their students better.

At CMIS, Nel Capadona, the Superintendent, approached members of the Student Success Team and asked them to join her in the experience. Tyler Stinchcomb-Elementary Principal, Aaron Willette-High School Principal, Sally Loughborough-Student Service Coordinator, and Petra Willette-Student Support Teacher, accepted the challenge and buddied up with different students to shadow during the week of February 6, 2017. They were interested to see CMIS from a different point of view and agreed to do everything with their assigned student, be curious for the day, ask open-ended questions, and look at CMIS with student eyes.

The day proved to be a humbling exercise in empathy and a chance to pay attention to CMIS “kid” details that might otherwise get overlooked by adults. The team met afterwards to share their photos, insights, student conversations, and identified some common challenges:

Most of the team forgot to drink enough water throughout the day.All of the team rushed to get to class on time as many classes were across campus. Several students shared their struggle in learning Chromebook as a new student.

As a result of these insights the team agreed to add extra water fountains on campus, put more consideration into the location of classes when scheduling, and include an optional chromebook class in the next new student orientation day. The team concluded that the true advantage of this shared experience had been an opportunity to experience the students at their own level. The day helped them to remember how much we ask of students, to appreciate how hard they try in their studies, to see how accepting they were of others, and to realize how appreciative they were for their voices to be heard.
The team shared their summaries of their experience with students, staff and parents. Next year they hope to invite all teachers into similar opportunities to shadow students and continue to find additional ways to best support their students.

Summaries:

Aaron Willette -High School Principal
Summary of my day:
attended 5 classes, Spanish, Band, AP Human Geography, English, and Science. My high school student tutored me on the flute, we engaged in a discussion on dystopian themes, and compared 1984 to Brave New World, I ate a protein bar made from cricket flour, and wrote a short research paper on the production and distribution of partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

What I learned about the students:

I am impressed with my students ability to shift focus from one class to the next, and his patience with me as I struggled to learn the flute.

What I learned as a student:

I was reminded of how difficult it is always rushing to the next class and how frustrating it can be when you are trying to learn something new.

Sally Loughborough -Student Service Coordinator
Summary of my day:
I started my day in a two period Humanities block, learning about making connections while reading and then reading aloud with my group, asking questions as we read. We then went to Science and started learning about minerals, to Drama where we practiced projecting our voices to an audience and ended the day in Math where we learned how to use substitution of numbers to solve for an unknown variable.

What I learned about the students:
The students were all so patient and understanding with each other, their teachers, and me.

What I learned as a student:
I learned it’s a looooong day and requires a great deal of focus and organization. I learned that speaking up can be intimidating, to ask questions when I didn’t understand, and that I needed to check in with people around me as well as with the teacher.

Petra Willette -Student Support Teacher
Summary of my day:
The day began in 3rd grade with a two block PE period where we played at least five different games, and then transitioned into math class where we did timed multiplication tests. In our spelling period we took small quizzes, practiced handwriting in our notebooks, and wrote a Friday Letter to our parents. In writer’s workshop we started drafting a creative writing story using graphic organizers and then we had some read-aloud time.

What I learned about the students:
I knew how welcoming and supportive our students were, but I have never gotten to experience the degree of compassion that I witnessed during my shadowing of the class. The students welcomed me with open arms, they were enthusiastic about showing me the procedures in class and helping me understand when and where to transition.

What I learned as a student:
Fitting into the established classroom procedures and transitioning through a schedule unknown to me was a challenge. They must be mindful of procedures that are required for not only their homeroom, but also all of their specials, and even their recesses. It would be interesting to shadow near the beginning of the first semester as well as in the second to see how these habits develop.

Tyler Stinchcomb -Elementary and Middle School Principal
Summary of my day:
I followed a Gr. 4 student for the day. We started off with a small field trip to Warorot Market for a scavenger hunt to look for connections with learning objectives from a unit on Thailand. In Language Arts class, we had to take a spelling test on compound words and wrote in my Friday journal about highlights of the week. Later, in PE class, we played a game called “Hula Hut” and at the end of the day, I participated in my “Shadow Student’s” Friday Club which was frisbee.

What I learned about the students:
I learned that the students needed positive interactions with each other, especially in the younger years. These positive interactions helped them with the challenges of learning something new and the insecurity that we sometimes feel when we may not learn as quickly as our peers.

What I learned from my experience:
I tried to imagine myself as a 4th grade student and how difficult it can be sometimes with trying to fit in with the social groups in that grade.

Nel Capadona -Superintendent
Summary of my day:
I began my 8th grade day in science working with my group to create a public service announcement about the human carbon footprint. Then it was off to language arts to work in literature groups where we critiqued characters, shared reflections, and graded literary responses. In band my buddy student tried desperately to teach me the trombone as we practiced different tempos with the group.

What I learned about the students:
The students were so kind, patient, and welcoming. They were very honest in their thinking and very accepting of my awful musical abilities.

What I learned as a student:
It was a challenge for me to stay organized both mentally and physically and I seemed to rush from one class to the next. It was hard for me to switch from one set of thinking, and then to think of something completely different in each class. I forgot to drink water all day and left my backpack and chromebook in two separate classes!