Laura McBain, K12 Lab Director of Community and Implementation, speaks about the powerful tool of student shadowing as an empathy exercise that illuminates where deeper learning moments can take place throughout the day.
I’m a big fan of small steps to big ones. I think that when we’re trying to transform schools, it’s almost overwhelming. We like to think about really what are the small micro hacks, or small steps that you can do to get you started? And I think there’s nothing greater.
One of the things that we do at [INAUDIBLE] school is we think about shadowing students. It’s an empathy exercise. The first thing you do– it doesn’t cost any money, it just takes time– is you go and actually walk in the shoes of a student at your school and you become an observer, a noticer.
What is their learning experience? Who’s being talked to? What type of work are they doing?
That empathy exercise gives you a way in to say, where in the day can I inject some deeper learning moments? That’s actually where you discover the design space in your school. It’s not, oh, I’m going to do a project– you could do that, and maybe there’s a chance, but where can I enter into dialogical conversation? Where can I enter into [? open end ?] math problems?
To me, just that small step of observing a student throughout an entire school day allows you to see where are the low hanging fruit in my school that I can start [INAUDIBLE] deeper learning? It’s not the whole school, it’s just this one child’s experience for deeper learning, and having that deep empathy exercise is really important.
So I think having empathy with students and co-designing with them as you go is going to build collaboration, it’s going to help us design well with them and be an inclusive process, particularly students who are often left out of the system. And I think to me, when we’re designing and starting small, we have to design with students, and particularly students that have been left out, and systemically left out of our system.