As you ma have heard, I had the opportunity to participate in the #shadowastudent experience with the other principals form the Bellaire High School feeder pattern on October 26. For just one day I became a 3rd grader and from 7:30am to 3:20pm I lived the same experience as the rest of our students. I didn’t go into the day with any preconceived notions or any special agenda, and here are a few big ideas I came out with.
- A rolling stone gathers no moss. I was sitting, standing, kneeling, on the carpet, at the small group table, on the floor with classmates, walking the room, and working with a teacher outside the class. If movement is the key to learning then I had it in spades! I didn’t check the number of steps that I took, but I suspect it would have been significant. At the end of the day I had a sense of satisfaction; what I believed to be true on my campus was largely confirmed and the idea of flexible learning spaces and movement was one of them. When we designed our new building this is what he had in mind and it was gratifying to experience it in action.
- It was real. Third graders don’t have poker faces, and if there was some sort of dog and pony show going on because I was in class that day they would have been the first ones to ‘tell’. What I experienced was exactly what they usually experience and the smooth transitions and unspoken understanding of expectations clearly indicated that this was just another day in 3rd If I had heard someone say something like ‘why are we doing this’ or ‘we’ve never done this before’ I would have know something was up, this was never the case.
- What’s next? At the groundbreaking for our new school 2 years ago our trustee, Mike Lunceford, mentioned that our school had been living 21st century teaching and learning for a while and we were finally going to get a building that matched that. I found myself reflecting on this idea as I finished my day. The teaching and learning that I saw, during my day as a student, was a better version because of the physical space that we now have. The pedagogy was sound, but I keep wondering ‘what’s next’? Perhaps it is a latent fear of stagnation that I have, but with out new building come new possibilities, so instead of settling for a space where our current best practices can live, I’m wondering how we can push our practices forward for our students. At the end of the day, I believe this was my biggest takeaway, not a solution, but rather a new challenge to consider.
As a quick aside, having the experience concurrently with the other 11 principals in the feeder pattern allowed some interesting conversation and reflection the following week. I’m not sure where this little experiment will go, but I’m grateful for the opportunity.
For a little entertainment value check out my pictures from the day on my twitter feed @texasbuckeye.