After listening to an ASCD podcast featuring an interview with A.Wade Boykin and Pedro Noguera, the authors of Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving from Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap, I am thinking that this question about engagement should be added to coaching conversations and PLC explorations of teaching and learning.
The authors use the questions:
What is your strategy for getting students more deeply engaged and invested in learning?
What’s your strategy to get students to care about learning?
They define engagement (ASCD Education Update page 6) as:
Behavioral Engagement – on-task behaviors including persistence, asking questions, taking part in discussions, asking for help
Cognitive Engagement – deep involvement and effort to understand a concept or master a skill
Affective engagement – high interest, positive affect and attitude, curiosity, and task involvement
Boykin and Noguera report that low performing students often receive more instructional time than other students but less engaged time…a process not likely to close the achievement gap.
In an earlier blog, I noted Phil Schelechty’s thoughts about judging engagement:
On task behavior can be confused with engagement. A teacher cannot judge engagement simply through observation. Has the student persisted? How committed is the student? Why is the student investing attention? Conversation with students is critical to uncover the level of engagement. This conversation only can happen if a trusting relationship has been built with students.
“How do you build trusting relationships that support engagement?” is another question administrators and coaches should be asking.
A website for Oregon Small Schools examines how personalized learning environments can drive engagement.
The personal connection between teachers and students also allows teachers to push students farther. Teachers can demand higher levels of achievement because their expectations are based on a personal understanding of students’ capabilities. Because of their sustained, mutual trust, students grant teachers the authority to challenge them as learners.
In a personalized learning environment, students are
treated as individuals
spoken to honestly
and treated with dignity and respect
Through these connections teachers get to know students well; they become familiar with students’ learning styles, interests, backgrounds, and goals. Knowing who their students are and how they learn, teachers can adjust instruction to leverage students’ strengths and build curriculum around issues relevant to their lives.
Coaching and PLC conversations can increase teachers’ conscious planning for student engagement.
Footnote: ASCD Education Update, ( Volume 54 Number 3), March 2012, Making Research a Reality: Educators Can Close the Achievement Gap with Lessons Learned, Richard Allen