San Francisco school district administrators to shadow students to improve learning

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A local school district has embarked on a new mission to find out what goes on in the classroom from the perspective of a student to improve the way kids learn best.

Lia Dixon was shadowed by of all people, the superintendent of San Francisco schools from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. She's not sure that makes her the most popular kid at Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School. "I want to see what it's like to be a 6th grade student. What's your day like and what's your day feel like? If we say we want to design environments, we want to design curriculum, schedules that benefit students, then it's probably really valuable to have the perspective of the student," Willie L. Brown Middle School Superintendent Richard Carranza said.

Dixon said students and teachers need to be more engaged with one another. "Maintain kids more, explaining what they're talking about so we can get it right in our head," Dixon said.

The superintendent isn't the only one doing this. Nearly 100 administrators from the district will shadow students. These are people who don't spend time in the classroom, but the information they get will be of great value to the district and to Stanford.

Stanford's School of Design will then compile what they found so that changes can be made. "If you really sink into it from an empathy perspective, you're able to see your school in a different way," Stanford School of Design Susie Wise said.

For example, Dixon had complained to the superintendent that some students distract others. He experienced that first hand when a student interrupted their conversation.

The message is clear: The way to develop empathy is by walking a mile in someone's shoes.

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