Clarity and Relevance

Recently, I read an article in Educational Leadership entitled 4 (Secret) Keys to Student Engagement by Robyn Jackson and Allison Zmuda. The article promotes ways teachers can capture true engagement in the classroom. What struck me most was a brief subtitle asking the question, “Compliant-Or Engaged”? I paused in my reading and thought about the “well-behaved” classes on which I used to pride myself. The kids did their work; they raised their hands; they were respectful; but, were they engaged? This got me thinking about the dangers of mistaking management for engagement, which then prompted me to ask the question, how do we design instruction that promotes engagement- real authentic engagement? Not a subdued space where nice kids turn in their work on time, but where students grapple with the learning in a busy, messy, sometimes noisy way? How do we get there, and more importantly, how do we sustain that energy? Continue reading