Job Shadow in a Connected Field of Study

Teachers shadow an expert in a field connected to their own teaching domain.

Photo of Jessica Hadid

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What if teachers engaged in job shadows outside the field of education, but within a field connected to their own teaching domain? A social studies teacher could shadow a policy maker at the state capital; a math teacher could shadow an algorithm developer at Google; an English teacher could shadow a freelance investigative journalist in action; a science teacher could shadow an anthrax vaccine developer at Lawrence Livermore Lab. 

There are designers, scientists, engineers, project managers, marketing experts, researchers, writers, analysts, farmers, artists, and more. All are experts in fields that have potential connections to what we teach. Shadowing these experts can enliven and expand the ways we think about our own areas of focus as teachers, and thereby benefit our students.

Key objectives: to broaden our idea base, to learn about new skills and their applications, to gain new perspectives, to network and build bridges between school and community, to model shadowing for our students.

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Photo of Chris Good
Team

Jessica - I love this idea - and if you need any partners for the Evovle Phase let me know. As someone "outside the field of education"I hope I can add an interesting perspective.  Give me a shout if you need anyone to help brainstorm.

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

This is great! How much of the shadowing could be done virtually vs. face to face? How much time would be required, and over what time horizon? What might some of the "deliverables" or "artifacts" demonstrating learning look like? Thanks for sharing!

Photo of Jessica Hadid
Team

Hi Kevin,
Face to face seems optimal, but e-correspondence could definitely aid the process. As far as time frames, I think a full day inside an organization could work, especially if the time is well planned. Shadowers could divide time up between key players in the org, or focus on one. Artifacts might include a set of illustrative on the job photos to show students, a prototyped product, a copy of a product design or draft, key video clips of the day. But more importantly, takeaways would include the gaining of an expert's knowledge and feedback, a connection between the teacher and an expert in a relevant field, the generation of new ideas and new applications of old ideas...

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

Perfect. And a community like this (I really love the UI) would help as a repository and means to further the conversation, too. Thanks for the reply. Happy Holidays!

Photo of William Ferriter
Team

Hey Jessica, 

This has always been an idea rolling through my mind, too.  In fact, I've always thought that it would be neat if organizations that already support schools like Business Alliances developed internships for teachers to fill during their breaks.  Doing so would give teachers that real world experience that you are talking about.  It could also get businesses a reliable part time employee for a short term contract/project.

The hitch has been convincing businesses that this idea is a good one.  They don't often see the value in having a teacher as an intern because they know that teacher won't become a permanent employee.  
To make it work, we'd have to convince businesses that building knowledge in teachers and building relationships with schools has some kind of tangible value for them in the future. 

I still like the idea, though.  Personally, I'd rather increase teacher capacity than get donations of goods or products (or even cash) from the businesses in our own community -- and in many ways, I think the businesses would rather give their capacity than other more tangible contributions.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes, 
Bill Ferriter
@plugusin 

Photo of Jessica Hadid
Team

Bill,
I agree. Convincing organizations that hosting a shadow (or even an intern, as you suggest) would somehow add value to their bottom line is a major hurdle. My 9th and 10th graders are currently in the process of soliciting job shadow opportunities. They are discovering that this takes a somewhat sophisticated pitch, and that their pitch must address the "What's in it for me?" question.  

It's possible that, over time, hosting organizations could receive a form of public recognition for their efforts. I also wonder if there may be some sort of "write off" available to them. There  also may be situations in which expert teachers could help staff design training to "on board" new employees (teachers, theoretically, are experts in how people learn).

Overall, I think the effort to break down the walls that separate the world of business and the world of education will take a cultural shift, but shifts begin small. If we can convince organizations that they will be on the cutting edge of this shift it may provide some incentive.  

Thanks for your thoughts.

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

Bill! Great to see you in here. Hope you're well! -kj-

Photo of Jen Ortlinghaus
Team

Thanks for sharing this fantastic idea. I would love to participate in a shadow day like this! The field experts would have so much information and current events to share. How do you think this would look for an elementary school teacher who teaches many subjects?

Photo of Jessica Hadid
Team

If I were an elementary teacher I would base my shadow opportunity on a long term project. If the project focus that quarter was food production and its history in California, I might split my shadow day between an organic dairy farmer in West Marin and a more production oriented plant in the east bay. I would see myself as a researcher, bringing back important findings to my students.

Photo of Sarah Lundy
Team

This seems like to critical bridge K-12 must build to the "real world" in order to respond to students' authentic learning needs. I would love to think through potential "Who, When, Where, Hows" with you and others who are similarly enthusiastic!

Photo of Chris Good
Team

I love every bit of this - and I think the best part is not only how much the teacher can learn from their "outside world" counterparts but also how much they can share in return! All the better if we manage to blur the distinction between education and practice. Why do we need an "Outside" distinction anyways? EVERYTHING is education if we are continuously receptive to learning.