Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Here's a challenge: Spend two days as a student!
What? You have no time for that? Well, one teacher, Alexis Wiggins, a 15-year teaching veteran, did just that. In a Washington Post Blog, Grant Wiggins (her father actually) provides her written report of this experience that she had originally posted on his blog. Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns

Alexis wrote about her experiences as she shadowed two students; a 10th grader one day and a 12th grader the next. As a mother of a high school junior, I can relate to her 3 key takeaways:

   Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting

   High school students are sitting passively and listening during     approximately 90% of their classes

   You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long

Is this stuff you already know? Do you agree with it? I do think I would certainly feel this way if I were to follow my HS junior, but would she? So, I asked her. I talked to her about this article and was a bit surprised at her answers. She was a bit defensive actually, stating that she has no problem with "sitting passively and listening during approximately 90%" of her classes. She says "That's what students do...listen and take notes! Besides, teachers have a lot to cover, so there's no time for much of anything else." Okay, she's quite the introvert, so perhaps this makes sense. However, I had to remind her that her favorite English teacher actually had them walk around with heavy backpacks after reading "The Things They Carried" and later, squeeze together in a tiny square section of the floor after reading a book about the Holocaust. Hmmmm?

As for instructors being sarcastic or rude, she didn't get that at all. She knows when an instructor is being sarcastic for humor and never feels to be a nuisance. (I think she's been fortunate in her experiences with teachers!) As for the "sitting all day" being exhausting, while she doesn't think so, I beg to differ. She often ends up falling asleep a couple hours right after school! But then again, maybe that's a result of staying up late the night before.

So, while my teenager may have a different experience, as will other students, I still felt the changes this author would have made had she known this stuff early on in her teaching career are still valid pedagogy for the classroom. They are also simple ideas and are relevant to both High School and College students.

Be sure to read a follow up blog by this blogger's dad, Grant Wiggins: A PS to the guest post on shadowing HS students.

My favorite piece of this blog is the story of when he decided to record himself teaching, back in 1978! This was quite a wake-up call for him. I hope these two blogs serve as a wake-up call for you as well or perhaps a validation that what you are doing is right on target. As one commentator testified:

"It was one of my college students who forwarded me Alexis’ article from the Washington Post and said Mr. Miller you teach exactly how this writer recommends! It was the ultimate compliment and I owe much of its practice to you, UBD and IDE!"

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