It’s hard to believe the first nine weeks is over and that we are headed towards the holiday season! While the school year is in full gear, student engagement is a topic discussed by many teams. How do we keep students engaged and motivated? Recently at a conference, a speaker shared that students are disengaged because of lack of interest, low self-confidence, fear of failure, negative experiences in school, or their home situation. While we can’t solve home factors, there are aspects to students’ lives that we can work on including five key factors we can control:
- Promote positive feelings
- Promote attention/interest
- Promote connectedness/relevance
- Promote self-efficacy
- Promote collaboration and the sharing of best practices
Author Angela Meiers often states in her books and seminars that, “If you don’t first secure students’ hearts, you don’t have a shot at their brains.” That sounds great, but how do we do that? First, we have to think about our own expectations. Do we believe every student CAN and WILL learn? Do we believe every student will participate and not allow opt-outs (versus just giving 0’s and not really knowing if a student understands the content)? Do we hold every student accountable for being a part of the classroom and promoting socialization?
Next, we need to use strategies that engage students. Many great strategies were shared last year through Cultures of Thinking and this year’s book study, Innovator’s Mindset. These include:
- Appealing to a variety of learning styles
- Physical movement, which energizes disengaged students
- Student choice (at least two) makes students more active participants.
- Student-centered lessons as often as possible.
I encourage you to continue posting to Twitter with exciting happenings from your classroom with the hashtag #wearetuskyvalley. George Couros challenged us in September by saying, “What if every teacher tweeted one thing a day they did in their classroom to a school hashtag and took five minutes a day to read each others’ tweets? What would that do for learning and school culture?” Some of you are already doing that and it is exciting to see the great things you are doing!
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thankful to be a part of TV Schools. Even when we have a bad day, are faced with a difficult student, or our plans don’t go the way we think they should, this is a great place to be. I am thankful for the wonderful staff, students, and community members that make TV what it is. You are making a difference!