Shadow a Student Series – Norfolk Highlands Primary

Spring can be a particularly busy season for educators. As administrators, in particular, your days can quickly be filled with meetings, testing schedules, teacher observations, and so many other tasks. But the spring can also be a great time to evaluate and reflect on the practices that have shaped your school culture so far this year and still have plenty of time to make adjustments as needed so your students finish the school year strong.

With that idea in mind, I recently issued the Shadow a Student Challenge to my administrators. It’s designed to be a fun, illuminating, and supportive journey where educators come together to empathize with their students. Hopefully, the experience and observations of shadowing lead to insights that fuel positive change. The concept is simple, but the results can be powerful. I’m excited to hand over my blog in this Shadow a Student Series as a place where they can share these experiences with you.


Mrs. Smiley - Principal of Norfolk Highlands PrimaryGuest Blogger Mrs. Shawnia Smiley, Principal

On Monday, April 8, 2019, I shadowed Alex, an outstanding second-grade student. Alex is a deep thinker and was a great example for others. He also loves and is interested in ninjas. In fact, he is enrolled in a ninja class! I believe he will continue to be one of our shining stars in the year ahead!

How did it feel to be a student in your building for a day? Mrs. Smiley shadows one of her students.
It was very exciting, and the students were excited as well. In fact, other students in other classes were asking me when I would be a student in their class for a day.

What part of the day did you enjoy the most?
The mini-lesson and recess!

What student needs are you motivated to address after shadowing?
Making sure that my quiet children are given a voice. I also noticed that we must give our students more opportunities for enrichment or extension for those students who need more challenges, and it will more than likely motivate others to want to take part in those opportunities as well.

Mrs. Smiley shadows one of her students.Do you plan to shadow again?
I would like to shadow a special education class, and I’d like to partner with one of my colleagues at another school and swap for a day.

How has this experience impacted your leadership?
This experience impacted me as a school leader in several ways. I recognize that we need to provide more opportunities for enrichment or extension activities during class time. We are able to provide them during our power-up times, but all students need to be offered more choices in math and reading once they complete their work. Although we are a PBIS school, our students need to know what being respectful, responsible, and safe looks like and be able to share examples and non-examples. Lastly, we need to incorporate more brain breaks throughout the day.