Reflection #5: Are Your Students Engaged? Don’t Be So Sure

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We have to re-think what we mean by engagement. For too long we have confused engagement with compliance or, worse still, “fun.” This confusion has led to a number of myths distorting how we act, and what we look for, in the classroom.

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In David Price’s article, he discusses some of the common myths on whether or not your students are engaged or disengaged. He discussed a study of Australian students and one mind boggling statistic: “an engaged child from a low socio-economic background will have better opportunities in life than a disengaged child from a more privileged background.” Wow. Engagement is crucial. Now lets get into the myths:

Myth #1: “I can see when my students are engaged.”

This is totally a myth. How? Isn’t a student engaged if they are writing in their notebook? Typing on their laptop? Looking engaged…BEEP BEEP BEEP WRONG!! Students can make themselves look engaged when in fact they have no clue what you are saying. I can’t lie…I have been totally “engaged” in class writing notes…AKA…doodling in the margins. Do not assume students are engaged just by their ability to look engaged.

Myth #2: “They must be engaged- look at their test scores!”

Wait…what?Basing learning off of test scores is not accurate at all. Never base a student off of their test scores. He calls students with high test scores but low learning the disengaged achiever.

Myth #3: “They must be engaged- they are having fun!”

David Price talks about humor being important, but it is also important to find a level of “hard fun” where they are challenged on the content.

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Our challenge, in 2014 is this: Can we become designers of learning, rather than deliverers of worksheets? Can we create opportunities for learning which simultaneously inspire, challenge and deepen students’ innate love of learning?

This blog has brought light to me how important relevance is to your students. Make those connections. If they see purpose in the subject matter, they will find connections and be engaged. Go engagement.

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