Teacher spends day as a student, has epiphany that sitting down all day is really boring

'I have made a terrible mistake'

Christopher Hooton
Tuesday 28 October 2014 11:23 GMT

It took assuming the role of a pupil in lessons for two days straight but a teacher has finally realised it: sitting all day and passively listening is "exhausting".

"I have made a terrible mistake" 15-year teaching veteran Alexis Wiggins began her write-up of her shadowing of a typical American class, "I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding - most of it!"

Sitting in on geometry, integrated science, business lessons and more, the teacher found herself hopelessly frustrated and restless, invoking the boredom of work conference and training days in helping adults to realise how agitated sitting still all day and listening to someone talk can make you.

"You start to feel sorry for the students who are told over and over again to pay attention because you understand part of what they are reacting to is sitting and listening all day," she wrote in a blog post.

"It’s really hard to do, and not something we ask adults to do day in and out.

"Think back to a multi-day conference or long PD day you had and remember that feeling by the end of the day – that need to just disconnect, break free, go for a run, chat with a friend, or surf the web and catch up on emails.

"That is how students often feel in our classes, not because we are boring per se but because they have been sitting and listening most of the day already. They have had enough."

Listing her key take-aways from the shadowing as "Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting," "High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes," and "You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long," Wiggins suggested numerous changes she would like to bring in response to it, including brief, blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons, mandatory stretches midway through class and a Nerf basketball hoop on the back of her classroom door.

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