Faculty Shadow Days

Lauren Salzman

Every student, whether in college, high school, or middle school, has experienced stress before. If you haven’t, then you just aren’t human. What usually happens is that kids come home from school and say that they are stressed and their parents respond with a simple, “calm down, everything will be okay,” or the ever-dreaded, “then maybe you should spend less time with your friends or on Facebook so you can study more.” The fact of the matter is, school = stress. It’s hard to get around that. But, a new committee at Latin is trying to combat the stress levels of students, making them happier and healthier learners.  Along with providing a strong academic program and well-rounded education at Latin, the wellbeing of students is a top priority and this new undertaking is an example of this.

Kirk Greer, Upper School history teacher and History and Social Studies Department Chair, and Deb Sampey, Middle School principal, are co-chairs of this committee which consists of about 15 faculty members from all three divisions. In January of 2014, the brainstorming began. It was decided  that in order to  truly understand a student’s experience, teachers and administrators would plan a series of shadow days. Mr. Greer said, “We are to take the experiences and data we gather and make suggestions to Mr. Dunn about student work expectations, scheduling the school day, and strategies to alleviate the stress to “achieve.””

 The main goal behind the shadow days is to have adults become informed about students’ everyday lives and stress levels, and experience life exactly as a student does. Adults often think that they know what is going on, and frequently address the students with questions pertaining to stress, but sometimes the kids are going through things that teachers don’t even think could possibly happen. Adults sometimes just don’t know what they don’t know, and these shadow days are trying to shed some light on the unknown. Mr. Greer said, “While adults can talk to one another all day long about what we perceive the student experience at Latin to be, there is no substitute for  walking a day in your (the student body’s) shoes and listening closely to how you describe your day.”

 If you are a student who will be shadowed, teachers will do your homework the night before, follow you around all day, and attend your extracurriculars. Simply put, they will live your life for a day. So if you see a teacher lurking near one of your friends at lunch or sitting in on your geometry class, know that it is for your own good.