Damon Grant, principal at Unity Middle School in Oakland, CA, observes students during the School Retool fellowship.

After you shadow, claim your badge.

As an educator, you probably see yourself as a student of the world. But what’s it like to be a student at your school? To ride the bus? Juggle the workload? Fit into the culture?

A great way to find out is to shadow a student. Clear your calendar, silence your walkie-talkie, throw on sneakers, and immerse yourself in student life for a day. Join the community of educators committed to rethinking the student experience–starting by walking in the shoes of a student. See you at the bus stop.

No doubt, you’ve heard about shadowing a student before, and have wanted to try it. In human-centered design, shadowing is a practice used to build empathy for users and can lead to powerful observations and insights to drive change. In education, there is a rich history of researchers and practitioners who encourage educators to shadow students, offer guidance for the shadow experience, and provide tools to help educators use their shadow insights (Ginsberg, 2012, Pope, Brown, & Miles, 2015, and Wiggins, 2014). The purpose of the Shadow a Student Challenge is to amplify this important practice, to help you make the commitment to shadowing, to push you to finally do it, and to support you to then take action based on what you learn while shadowing.

What's Next?


A tutorial for turning insights into actions

This free 15-minute online tutorial will help you build on your insights from shadowing a student and guide you to a small, quick experiment or “hack” to improve the student experience in your school.

The goal isn’t to get it perfect—it’s to learn, fast.

School Retool

The way to deepen and expand your Shadow A Student experience

School Retool is a 6-month professional development fellowship that helps school leaders like you redesign your school culture using small, scrappy experiments called “hacks.” Hacks may start small, but they're built on research-based practices that lead to Deeper Learning, and can create the kind of big change you aspire to—namely, preparing your students for life in the real world.

Applications are live for Fall 2016 cohorts in six locations across the country.

Apply Here

Who Participated?

0US States
0School Leaders

Many leaders shared powerful reflections about their Shadow A Student Challenge experience. Check out the principal blogs as well as media generated by fellow leaders.

Sign Up Now

Sign up to get access to the materials described above. This challenge is designed for principals but all educators are encouraged to participate and share with their communities.

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