Shadow-A-KIPPster Day: Glimpse into KIPPsters' Lives

by Chris Gonzalez on Mar 13, 2015

in Our KIPPsters, Team & Family

Although KIPP Houston’s Regional Services Team (RST), often called administration in other districts, sits on the KIPP CONNECT campus, it frequently seeks new ways to interact with students, families, and teachers and stays attune with the mission and purpose of KIPP.

To that end, we recently hosted our third annual Shadow-a-KIPPster Day. Nearly 80 RSTers arrived at our 22 schools at 7:15 am to walk in the shoes of our students. The annual event is a favorite of many, and for half of the day, we are students in the classrooms, band halls, and cafeterias. We do the classwork. We read aloud in class. We struggle with difficult (or easy) math problems. We write essays. We even take tests for which we did not study.

Each of our experiences is unique and individual to the school, the class, the day, and the KIPPster we shadowed. Yet from the day, there is a common vein of new understanding and empathy. There is a distinct flavor of renewed purpose in our work.

After the morning, we return to our open workspace and gather for a Team & Family lunch. Our observations are varied but shine light on the new knowledge that we take back to our work.

  • I didn’t drink coffee and missed breakfast, just so that I could understand what it is like to be that kid who ran out the door, tired from last night’s homework, and too late for breakfast. It was tough to walk in her shoes.  

  • Many of our kids fight real life distractions and problems. I was one of those kids. I wish I could help them see that if they stay the course, there is greatness in their future.

  • The kids are kind, even in high school, which I thought would be scarier for some reason.

  • Each of the schools has a unique culture, but it is a thoughtful culture.

  • It was neat to see that everyone knew the expectations and got right into the activity with little direction.

  • I love the physical energy and enthusiasm from chants and songs.

  • Seeing blended learning in action is incredible. This is not like it was when I was in school.

  • It was exciting to see the level of complex problem solving and discussion.

  • Wow! Seventh-grade math is harder than I remember. It is interesting to be the kid who doesn’t know the answer and is really just guessing.

  • Teachers work very hard to get everyone moving but there is still a lot of sitting and listening. It’s hard not being able to just get up and move around when someone is talking.

  • The commitment of the teachers is deep.

  • There is a genuine excitement in the classes and halls, and students approach their learning with enthusiasm and curiosity.

Most importantly, the comments conveyed appreciation for the glimpse in the window of the life of some of our students and schools and the opportunity to walk as a shadow. Through this experience, we are reminded that we can take this place, this time, and the people here to build a better place, a better time, and a better people. As a Team & Family, we will either find a way, or make one.