Ephrata leads Shadow A Student Challenge across area schools

By on February 22, 2017
 Photo submitted by the Ephrata Area School District. Ephrata Assistant Superintendent Rick Hornberger gets ready to take a “selfie” during the Shadow A Student Challenge recently.

Photo submitted by the Ephrata Area School District. Ephrata Assistant Superintendent Rick Hornberger gets ready to take a “selfie” during the Shadow A Student Challenge recently.

Ephrata Area School District leaders first shadowed district students last winter to experience a school day first hand and gain a new perspective on learning. It was such a successful initiative the district is participating again this year and has encouraged more than 11 area districts and 70 local education leaders to become involved.

The Shadow A Student Challenge is a national initiative that challenges education leaders to rethink the student experience by being a student for a day. Participants partner with a student and are encouraged to take part in everything the student does during his or her school day, including riding the school bus, participating in classes, taking tests, and more.

Throughout the day, educators are asked to keep a variety of questions in mind while shadowing students, including:

  • How does it feel to be a student for a day?
  • What is your student’s favorite moment of the day, and what makes it special?
  • What do you notice makes your student feel uncomfortable, anxious, or bored? Why?
  • When is your student engaged in learning?
  • As you go through your day, what opportunities do you notice for use of critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and effective communication skills?

Following the events, administrators reflect on their insights and compare students’ experiences with the learning and skills necessary for success throughout their academic careers.

Dr. Brian Troop, Ephrata Area School District superintendent, has been working with School Retool, organizers of the Shadow A Student Challenge, to find ways to expand the impact of the program in the area. Troop encouraged fellow education leaders to participate.

Interest from local districts quickly grew to make up over half the total number of districts participating statewide.

“By collaborating with other districts, we can work together to positively impact students’ school experiences and better understand the students we serve,” said Troop.

Those districts participating include: Big Spring, Donegal, Elizabethtown Area, Manheim Central, Manheim Township, Northern York County, Penn Manor, Salisbury, School District of Lancaster, and Warwick

The Ephrata School district is sharing their innovative learning ideas with millions of educators around the world after Google for Education requested to feature four district programs on Google.com/edu., including the Shadow a Student program.

The programs initiated and implemented by the district caught the attention of Google for Education due to their innovative and collaborative approach to learning.

The other programs are: Twitter in Ten, Virtual Substitute and the 4Cs.

“It is encouraging anytime an outside organization, such as Google in this case, recognizes our work. Spotlighting our efforts so that others can adopt, modify and hopefully share back is how the education community has always grown,” said Troop.

“However, this type of recognition is not what gets us excited to be part of the Ephrata Area School District. Seeing this work translate into incremental improvements in our students’ school experience is what energizes and drives us forward,” Troop concluded.

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