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

Fundamental Reflection

ThinkingAt the very beginning of Lead Evaluator training we spent quite some time on the three priorities that are the foundation of the New York State Teaching Standards and, by extension, the rubrics on the approved list: Engagement, Constructivism, and 21st Century Readiness. Since the summer is such a time of reflection, now seems like a good time to think about the feedback we provided teachers, within the APPR/evaluation process, on the three priorities. Continue reading

Positive Youth Development, How Do You Do It?

SocialClassroomFor Positive Youth Development to occur we need to turn big classes into smaller units and open avenues for voice and choice with students. Students need to collaborate, belong, and work on projects that motivate and apply to the “real world.” Students have much to offer and educators need to encourage their input and build on the ideas that are generated from their choices.

When students are engaged in their learning, collaborating with their peers and contributing to the knowledge of the whole, then we are promoting mental health in the classroom. Continue reading