Teachers Taste Student Experience

Amanda Young, Staff Writer

Teachers Rene Gillibert and Dino Petrocco shadowed students on April 30 and May 1 in an effort to better understand the daily grind that many Campolindo teens face.

Gilbert spent the day in the footsteps of senior Sagnik Bhattacharya.  Petrocco followed junior Emily Tamkin.

According to Petrocco, the administration asked him to participate. “It was a lot of fun. The student that I was following around has 2 AP classes, so 1 period I spent taking a practice test in chemistry, which was hilarious, and the other was AP Biology, and we did a lab,” he said.

“I know Mr. G asked around to see if anyone would be okay with him shadowing them, but Mr. Petrocco kind of just signed up to shadow me because I had him for Law and Society last year, and he was trying to choose a junior to shadow,” said Tamkin.

Tamkin described the experience as “pretty funny” because Petrocco is a social sciences teacher, and her schedule for that day was science-heavy.

“I think he really got to experience the life of a student that he wouldn’t necessarily be teaching because he actually took our AP Chemistry test with us which was a big review for the AP [Test.] I looked at him in the back of the classroom as we were taking this test, and his head was in his hands, like staring really intently at his paper,” said Tamkin.

“Apparently he put a lot of really funny answers. For one of the free responses, he wrote down a recipe for mac and cheese. One asked him what the sign of entropy would be for the equation; he said Sagittarius,” said Tamkin.

“He also had fun with us in English because he had seen the movie of the book we were reading, so he thought he could really contribute,” Tamkin added. “It was cool; it didn’t really feel like he was shadowing me because he was just sitting in the back of the classroom.”

“I followed students around on Monday and it was valuable to see how rushed the day was,” said Gillibert. “My student had 7 periods; to go to all 7 periods seemed like I never had time to relax. According to Gillibert, he stayed after school to complete about 2.5 hours of homework.

While Gillibert experienced a Monday schedule, Petrocco shadowed his student on a block-day. “It was great; I got to feel the 90 minutes from the perspective of the students. The 90 minutes actually went smoother than I thought; I thought it was going to be a little more of a grind, but I only had to do it for 1 day. I feel like if I was going through it for the course of a whole week, then I might feel differently about it,” Petrocco said.

However, because many students are preparing for AP Exams, Petrocco noted that his experience wasn’t reflective of a “regular” day. “I don’t know if it necessarily gave me a real insight into their workload because for 2 classes, they were simply prepping for a test. I don’t think it was really indicative of what I would have experienced if it was just a normal day,” said Petrocco.

The teachers also learned about the trivial things in a student’s average day: “I learned that the lunch line is slow, and the brunch line is slow. I didn’t have very much time to eat- I had to eat my brunch in 4th period, and I only had about the last 10 minutes to eat lunch,” said Gillibert. “And [I learned] the uncomfortableness of the chair[s that students sit in].”

“I [found out that I] don’t know anything about chemistry, that was obvious,” added Petrocco.

“I kind of hope that teachers will see that we don’t just have 1 class. It might seem like, when we’re in their class, that’s the only class we need to be focused on. I think that some teachers have the mindset that, ‘Yeah, that’s the class for you to be focused on,’ and you get a lot of work for that 1 class,” Tamkin said. “I think it’s kind of cool for teachers to go around and see that we have a lot of work in every class and that’s kind of how impressive we are as students, that we are able to go around and multitask and get all this work done.”