How It Works

Just like it sounds, shadowing a student is the process of following a student to gain empathy and insight into their experience. Start by downloading our toolkit and e-mail templates to help guide you through the process.

Get Started

A complete toolkit of guidelines for choosing a student, observation, and reflection. Worksheets included.


Spread the Word

Email templates to help you communite with your school community and encourage other school leaders to participate.


All documents are also available on Google Drive.


Challenge Your Peers

  • Invite other school leaders to join the challenge.

Find the Time

  • Clear your calendar! No walkie-talkies allowed in class.


  • Choose a student to shadow. (See the toolkit for guidance.)
  • Give students, teachers, and parents a head up before your shadow day.



  • Ditch the suit and wear comfortable clothes. Or, alternatively, if students at your school wear uniforms, dress that way too to see how that feels.
  • Meet your student at the bus stop, subway station, or bike rack.
  • Spend the whole day with your student. Attend classes, eat lunch, and hang out by the lockers together.


  • Keep track of your observations. (See the toolkit for guidance.)
  • Collect artifacts (worksheets, student quotes, etc.)

Reflect and Share

  • Reflect on your experience. (See the toolkit for guidance.)
  • Share reflections, observations, and pictures on Twitter and Google+ with the hashtag #shadowastudent

Apply Your Learnings


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

Tell your story!

Share your reflections and insights from your shadowing experience on Medium. 

Click here to watch our 12-minute webinar with the experts at Medium for how to create compelling, interesting posts as you share your insights and reflections from your shadow experience.

Want more information about Medium? Click here to learn how to use Medium to reflect and share your shadowing insights.