Student Shadow Day

Student Shadow Day is a fun chance to experience a typical school day, or part of a day, from a student’s perspective.

You will spend the whole day - or whatever time you have - walking in their shoes.  It will help you understand what young people really know - and don’t know - about your industry, 21C skills and pathways to work.  


For you, Student Shadow Day is a great opportunity to:


  • Gain a new perspective on the gap between what young people learn at school and what you need them to have when they enter your workforce 

  • Start thinking about how you could help students build this knowledge and experience, personally, as a business and potentially as an industry.

  • Build the connection between your business and your Edtern’s school, potentially as the beginning of a multi-faceted relationship focused on building the pathways from school to work.

Getting Organised


  • Your Edtern will contact you to discuss a suitable date for Student Shadow Day as well as for their Edternship.  If you don’t hear from them promptly, feel free to reach out to them on Microsoft Teams or contact Saphron

  • During your conversation with your Edtern, recap the discussion you had at the Welcome Workshop about the particular students your Edtern is interested in designing a learning experience for (eg Y10 maths students; Y11-13 girls doing STEM). Together, you will choose one of these students for you to shadow during your time at school.

NOTE: Be upfront with your Edtern about your needs. If you can only be available for half the day, just let them know and you can plan around that.

After you’ve had your meeting, your Edtern will:


Update 21C Skills Lab on the dates for your Student Shadow Day and Five Day Edternship


Confirm whether the school requires a Police Vet Check (for working with children) for you, and, if so, arrange for it to be obtained


Provide you with a timetable of your day. 


Advise you on housekeeping and logistical issues, including parking, bringing lunch, what you may need to wear etc.

Top Tips

The Power of Shadowing


Student Shadow Day is not about observing classes, but immersing yourself in a student’s experience. Your aim is to walk in their shoes - to experience what they feel, think and engage with throughout their day at school.


Shadowing is a powerful way to build empathy and gain insights into the lived experience of others. It requires you to switch your mindset from analysis to observation. For now, listen, watch and explore without expectations, without judgment and without leaping ahead to create solutions. Be curious, ask questions and soak up the experience of being a young person at school. 


Recognise that it may be much more comfortable to you to hang out with the teachers, sit apart from the students and reinforce that you are an important adult, but that would be missing the point. Being uncomfortable is a sign that you are learning.


​Your goal on Student Shadow Day is to form a deeper understanding of the knowledge and skills that young people are learning at school and the understanding that they have or are being exposed to about pathways to work. What messages are young people receiving, directly or indirectly, from teachers, school, home, media and the wider community?

On the day


On Student Shadow Day, you’ll be met at school by your Edtern who will welcome you, get you oriented, go over the plan for your time at the school (including what to do at break and lunch time) and introduce you to the student you will be shadowing.


What you’ll be doing

  • Your main focus today will be on doing what your student does and observing what they experience.


  • You may get opportunities to talk with your student and their peers about what they are experiencing - walking to the next class, during a break or, if makes sense, during class-time. If you can, try to talk to a diverse set of students so you can hear multiple perspectives and experiences.



  • Note your observations as you go through the day so you can share your insights and experiences with your Edtern later. You may find it helpful to use the Point of View worksheet and the Student Shadow Day Observations worksheet at the end of this module to record individual and general insights. 


  • Take photos and video - always great to share on social media #Edternships!



  • At the end of Student Shadow Day, debrief with your Business Host about what you both observed and what insights you could take from it. Discussing what you experienced from your different perspectives is a great way to test your thinking and explore different interpretations, and get you both ready for some awesome design work together on the Five Day Edternship!