In an effort to gain insight into their students’ lives, two high school teachers recently posed as students for a day. The exercise was something Principal Dr. Matthew Murphy advocated for, saying it was an opportunity for the teachers to learn more about their students.
According to social studies teacher Jesse Rosen and English teacher Matt Sefick, that is just what happened. Both teachers dressed as students, completed homework assignments, changed for gym, took quizzes and tests, and attended a full day of classes.
Mr. Rosen, who spent the day in 10th-grade classes, said the experience was eye-opening and one he will not forget. He said that while teaching, he would often become frustrated when students would start to pack up minutes before the bell would ring. However, after being a student for a day, he now understands why they do it.
“I forgot that these students have just three minutes to get from one class to the next,” he said. He also learned it wasn’t easy to stay fully engaged for nine periods a day.
Similarly, Mr. Sefick, who spent the day as a senior taking five Advanced Placement classes, said the transition from one class to the next was very challenging.
“One moment, I was thinking about the unemployment rate in the United States,” he said. “The next, I was in a dark room trying to develop pictures, and later, I was trying to evaluate the effectiveness of a written argument. To shift my focus from one subject to the next proved difficult.”
Mr. Sefick also said he was amazed by how much a mistake in class affected him. “In my first-period class, I made an error in my calculations that I should not have made and I carried that with me for the rest of the day,” he said. “This reminded me of how much students internalize their mistakes and might have trouble sloughing them off and moving on.”
Mr. Sefick found the overall experience to be a rewarding one. Based on his day as a senior, he plans to make a few changes in his classroom, such as being more comforting to students who might answer a question wrong and more complimentary to those who answer correctly.
Photo Caption: Port Jefferson social student teacher Jesse Rosen posed as a student for a day in an effort to gain insight into his students’ lives. Pictured with him is health teacher Mike Maletta.