Tomorrow I will become a high school student. Now I know that some of you that know me well could probably make the case that I’ve always been a high school student at heart, but tomorrow it really happens. No this isn’t some sort of weird Billy Madison-esque thing where I have to go back to school to get my diploma, it’s actually part of an experiment.
Inspired by both Grant Wiggin’s post and our own Kacy Mitchell’s challenge to be a middle school student for a day, I’ve decided to place myself right in the middle of Westlake high school for a day. But before I embark on this challenge, I thought it might be a good idea to reveal why I’m doing this and make a few predictions.
Why Become a Student For a Day?
As an administrator, I’m faced with making decisions about major items on a daily basic. I spend time in meetings discussing and planning those decisions. I spend time speaking to parents about the rationale behind those decisions. And I train staff on the impact those decisions will make in their classrooms. However, the one group I feel I don’t have a strong enough grasp on is the most important group of all…the students. It’s my hope that by becoming a student for a day I can a small glimpse into what their daily academic life looks like. How do they use technology? How well do they interact in class with the teacher and with each other? How prevalent (and often) is their use social media throughout the day? How uncomfortable are those desks they have to sit in?
These are just a few questions that I’ll be focusing on as I go through my day. My schedule will follow that of
a typical sophomore which encompasses the following subjects:
1 – English
2 – Chemistry 1
3 – Interactive Media
4 – Lunch
5 – World History
6 – Geometry
7 – Choir
8 – Business Information Management
I’ve already contacted all the teachers of those courses to let them know I’ll be doing this challenge to learn more about the kids and that it won’t be a teacher observation. I’ve also asked them for any relevant homework that I’ll need to be prepared for when I show up (I was a little stressed to discover I need to re-read Catcher in the Rye all the way through chapter 17). That said, in being a student for the day, I thought it would be fund to make a few predictions of what I’ll discover. Here are 5 that I’ll be looking for:
1. Kids will always be on their phones between classes – I hear that this is always the case so I wonder what it is they are doing. Is it just texting or are their selfies taking place all over? Will I be late to class if I participate?
2. My lack of a healthy singing voice will hurt me in choir – I’ll blame the fact that I’m recovering from a cold, but I’m going to guess I’ll make a lousy choir student. Hoping no one records this class and posts it on YouTube.
3. The desks will hurt my back – I have an ergonomically correct chair in my office for lower lumbar support and a standing table for when I need to stand and type. That won’t be an option tomorrow.
4. Technology use will be a mixed bag – While this schedule lends itself to some high end technology use (I’ll be in a couple of computer labs), I’m curious to see how much the iPad plays a role throughout the day. Although, the English teacher already emailed me to tell me it’s a completely paperless assignment in his class which makes my heart warm.
5. My “real job” will affect my job as a student – This might be the one prediction that will definitely come true. I’ll have access to my email and I’ll know be the “tech guy” in the classroom that can fix any technical problem. Hopefully I’ll be treated like a regular student, but just like Reality TV, that’s not a real possibility.
While I’m going to do my best to be a focused student in the class, I’ll also be live-tweeting the day via the hashtag #Student4aDay. I hope to use this hashtag to help me reflect on the day later but also as a way for those of you on “the Twitter” or Instagram to follow along.
Lastly, while I know I’ll gain a lot of valuable information by doing this, it’s my hope that other leaders will follow suit and do the same. Like I said before, we make decisions all the time that affect kids. I think it would be a great idea for every administrator and teacher to try the #Student4aDay challenge and see the world from a different perspective. If you do decide to do this, make sure you reflect about it in public and then share with the world. We can all learn from each other!