KONZ: Five duPont Manual High teachers to see what life as a student is really like

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Five teachers from duPont Manual High are going to see what life is like for students at the storied magnet school this week as they take on full class schedules, eat lunch in the cafeteria and complete assignments.

Manual's principal, Jerry Mayes, asked for teachers to volunteer to become students after another teacher sent him this article from the Washington Post: Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns.

Five teachers volunteered: Rebecca Donahoe, Megan Gatewood, James Miller, Liz Palmer and Connie Wilcox.

"We want to have a better understanding of our students and their challenges so we can better serve their needs," Mayes said in a prepared statement. "We're looking critically at our own assumptions about what it's like to be a Manual student in 2015."

The Manual experiment will take place Thursday and Friday. While the five teachers are out of their classes, Mayes said substitute teachers will teach the classes they normally teach. 

Wilcox, a humanities teacher at Manual, said she believes "anything we as teachers can do to get in touch with the realities of a 21st-century student can't help but improve our teaching and our school."

Margo Morton, a senior at Manual, says she thinks it's a great idea.

"It's a very good start to accessing the much-needed student perspective in schools," she said.

Noah Rough, another senior, said he agrees, but said he thinks the downside is that "they won't be treated the same."

Palmer, who teaches journalism, said she hopes the experiment will help teachers have more "meaningful conversations about improving student engagement."

"My identity is known to teachers and students, which limits the authenticity of the experience, but I think it will still give me some insight into how we pace our lessons and what works to engage students," she said.

Manual runs on a block schedule, meaning students take eight classes each semester -- four 90-minute classes one day and four different 90-minute classes the next day. The teachers are participating for two days in order to get the same full eight-class schedule that all Manual students receive.

The teachers will tweet about their experiences on Thursday and Friday using the hashtag #SFAD.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.