As an educator, it is easy to become complacent and forget that each student is unique; yet, when teachers give in to this temptation they do a disservice to themselves and their students.
For this reason, it is important, particularly when working with high school students, to continually observe them as individuals using procedures such as low inference shadowing. For my Shadow Protocol Visit, I observed a tenth-grade female student who I will call J. I observed J for three classes (climate change, sketches, and religion) making low inference observations on her behavior and mannerisms. During my low inference observations, I gained a deeper understanding of J as a student and individual. In fact, there were several aspects of J’s student identity which surprised me, both as an educator and a former high school student.
Additionally, some of my observations challenged my own beliefs about relationships and values in high school. For example, J’s adaptability within different social groups astounded me. I was also impressed by her ability to focus on her academics while still engaging with her friends. According to Glenda Crawford, a teacher and research, during high school “adolescents crave social acceptance and validation.” (Crawford, 2008) This statement seems particularly true in the case of my focal student.
Throughout my day observing, I witnessed her adopt three different personas, a different one for each class. The first thing I noticed was that her mannerisms changed based on who she was around. For example, in her first-period class, where she had no friends she was focused on her work, was soft spoken and did not acknowledge her peers. However, in her other classes where she had friends, she was more outspoken and confident. J’s behavior within her different classes demonstrates the power of social relationships. I was particularly surprised by how well J fit in with the different groups of students in her classes. Her ability to assess the moods of the students and adapt to her surroundings is indicative of the innate ability girls develop during early adolescent. The ease with which she is able to take in her surroundings indicates an adeptness honed by many years of As we grow we are learning about our values, carving out pathways of autonomy, and “tiptoeing around in.
.. relationships” in an effort to be true to ourselves while also searching for social acceptance (Brown & Gilligan, 1992) Having watched J in various classes it is clear that she is a student who cares about her academic performance, yet she also values her friendships. In order to maintain her friendships without sacrificing her grades, J walks a perilous line. She has to talk and engage with her friends throughout the day in order to maintain her friendships, while also making sure that she participates in class, and completes her work. When I was in high school I often struggled to find a balance between spending time with friends and completing my work. Which is not an unfamiliar dilemma for most America students, in fact according to Steinberg, “high school is for socializing. It’s a country club for kids; where the really important activities are interrupted by all those annoying classes” (Steinberg, 2014)In fact, according to a researcher “Adolescence.
is a time during which brain systems that process social information become more easily aroused, which is an especially strong liability in a school environment that places undue emphasis on per relations, as is the case in the United States” (Steinberg, 2014). During my observations, I found myself frequently surprised by J’s ability to balance her academics and social life. On more than one occasion J managed to complete all of her work while also spending a significant amount of time talking with her friends. In fact, even when she seemed engrossed in her personal conversations, she still managed to raise her hand for most of her teacher’s questions. Her ability traverse two worlds—that of a studious student and a social butterfly— is distinctly different from my own high school experience. unlike J I often had to ” my own experience in high school Her ability to According to Laurence Steinberg, an adolescent psychologist “one-third of American high-school students report that they have little interest in school and get through the day by fooling around with their friends” (Steinberg, 2014). Her behavior within each setting reminded me of what it is like to be in girl in high school.