Teachers head back to school with faculty shadowing program

Faculty spend the day with students to gain new perspectives

With a backpack slung over her shoulder and a notebook tucked under her arm, Upper School (US) Spanish Teacher Carrie Rose joined Tommy Bressler ’27 for a day of classes on April 1 to kick off the second year of the US faculty shadowing program. The program, created by US Dean of Teaching and Learning Michael Chapman, US Director Jessica Keimowitz, and US Assistant Director Katrina Fuller, aims to provide a unique opportunity for faculty members: being a student for a day.

In the fall, Mr. Chapman reintroduced the program and provided an opportunity for all interested teachers to shadow a student for a day. At the conclusion of the program, the 11 teachers who shadowed this year submitted reflections that will be shared with the rest of the faculty.

Mr. Chapman founded the program to encourage faculty development on teaching methods through an immersive experience, he said.

“One of my roles is to really think about how we can continue to grow and develop as faculty members. Sometimes, you don’t need to go to a professional development conference to be able to grow and gain some perspective.”

He took inspiration from a similar experience that resonated with him as a young teacher, he said.

“I was inspired by a program I did back in 2014 as an early career teacher where I shadowed and took notes on a student’s experience, which helped me see things from a student’s angle.”

After receiving feedback from the program, Mr. Chapman also recognized the importance of providing breaks throughout the day for students to relax and recharge.

“We want to be able to highlight breaks for students as being just as important as the critical thinking that we want you to do,” he said. “Your brain needs breaks from time to time to be able to recover and rejuvenate, so that you are able to jump into high-level problem solving.”

Mr. Chapman noted that during the program, teachers learn about and later employ their colleagues’ teaching strategies in their own classrooms, he said.

“I think that we have so many great things that our teachers are doing in their classrooms and sharing those with each other and lending some time for more people to be adventurous and try something new with the classes can really be beneficial.”

Ms. Fuller shadowed James Ferreira ’26. She was impressed with the students’ interest in their classes and found that she was
excited to learn throughout the day, she said.

“Most of the classes were interactive and relying on pen and paper. I was also really surprised by how curious I was about all of the topics. I thought the teachers did an excellent job of keeping the interest level high, and the students seemed to be really engaged and interested all day long.”

US History Teacher Jessica Stokes shadowed Brett Riley ’26, noticing that students spent the majority of their day sitting, which encouraged her to include more interactive, physical activities in her classes, she said.

“I was surprised by how much sitting you do as a student. I went to Chemistry during a lab and Dance, but I still felt that we were sitting most of the day. Going forward, in my classes, I would like to get my students out of their chairs more often because it’s a long time to sit every day.”

The experience allowed Brett to get to know Ms. Stokes and discuss with her what he enjoys doing at school, he said.

“I enjoyed the experience because I had never talked to Ms. Stokes before, and I got to learn more about her and her interests. The day wasn’t too different from my day-to-day schedule, but I got to share what I like to do for athletics, arts, and during CABs with her.”

While shadowing Charlie Bradshaw ’27, US English Teacher Taneem Husain observed that students could use moments to relax
and reflect upon their day after abrupt class transitions, she said.

“My biggest takeaway is the idea that you have to switch gears so often during the school day. And even during your free periods, it’s not necessarily a time to relax because you also have to work on schoolwork, so it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of times where you’re able to breathe.”

Lauyanne Kouame ’26, who was shadowed by Eve Ferber, a leadership intern at the school, said she enjoyed having a teacher experience her intense daily routine.

“School is academically rigorous. There are lots of tests and homework, but it provides structure for my life. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn time management and how to be organized and study effectively, so I appreciate having this schedule, but it can be a lot sometimes.”

The school plans to continue the faculty shadowing program next year, offering more teachers the opportunity to experience the US through the day of a student.

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