Increasing Student engagement. Blog post Steven Dodge, engaged educator
While attending a professional development this summer there were a few memorable moments that have stayed with me throughout the year. I have often put into practice ideas and tools learned from PD, but rarely have looked for opportunities to share about a PD, 8 months later. The facilitator and author John Antonetti asked us educators how much of the day a student is truly engaged. Many guesses from 1 to 3 hours were made. Research shows students are only engaged 20 min on any given day! Those students in my class are not engaged, they are compliant. There is a difference. Using some meta- cognition I realized this research could be true. Real engagement is fleeting and difficult to maintain.
The first example of how teachers lose engagement was demonstrated quiet effectively as Mr. Antonetti stopped suddenly and addressed the entire PD class. He gave a stern lecture about someone texting on a cell phone while he was talking. We were in shock because he seemed genuinely upset by the cell phone distraction. He let us sit there in shock for a few minutes. My colleagues and I looked at each other in disbelief. We looked around the room to see who looked guilty of using a cell phone. He then let us know that no one was texting. This was an act to demonstrate how distractions destroy engagement. If we had been students in a typical classroom his outburst would cost the entire class an hour of engagement. The teacher, if they had done this, would not be able to get the students back on track the rest of the hour. Staying calm and in control is essential for engagement.
The next example involved Jon Medinas ‘s Brain Rules book. Using these rules in the classroom are essential building blocks to engagement. For example, 1. Vision trumps all other senses. I always think now, how an assignment or activity looks. 2. We are powerful and natural explorers. I keep this in mind when designing a project. I always include some kind of search and discover element. Perhaps most importantly is how stress effects engagement. 3. Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. Stress is about not being in control. How much of the day are our students feeling out of control? There are many other “brain rules” so discover them on your own. I am starting to lose your engagement.
I invite all educators to read John Antonetti’s book, 17,000 Classroom Vistits Can’t Be Wrong. I have only touched on a few examples from this highly informative book on the teaching.
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