When was the last time you were required to sit through something? Maybe it was mandatory training on a new textbook series, a PD session on instructional practices, or a review session on school discipline policies. You probably don’t have to travel too far into the past to remember a time when you sat through a presentation. Can you remember what your brain was doing while you were sitting there? Perhaps you were taking notes on the relevant parts of the material. Perhaps you were working on your grocery list, or mapping out your child’s carpool plan for the week. Perhaps you were discreetly checking Instagram, or your email, or the clock on your phone.
Our brains love to be engaged. When the activity we’re supposed to be doing doesn’t offer an opportunity for active engagement, our resourceful minds tend to find something else to do.
Engagement is the “E” in Inspired Teaching’s ABCDE of Learner Needs, which I’ve been exploring in Hooray For Monday these past few weeks. As educators, we get to build on and nurture our students' innate desire to be engaged learners. We know our students are more productive, and happier when they are engaged in meaningful work; so we create lessons that invite active participation in order to meet that need.
But how do we do this for ourselves?
Engagement: “I want to be actively involved."
Engagement is evolution’s reward for learning. Engagement can happen through play and laughter, but humans also derive pleasure from active cognitive processes such as creating, problem-solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation.
Where is this need in your life right now according to this spectrum?
How is the need for engagement being met in your life right now?
What changes might be necessary in order for your need for engagement to be better met?
You can explore an interactive version of these questions on our ABCDE website.
My colleagues and I are obsessed with making learning engaging. That’s why all of Inspired Teaching’s professional learning – on instruction, classroom management, SEL, relationship building, and more – is presented in workshop format and based on improvisation. When we teach teachers, we are looking at and speaking to one another; we’re intellectually and physically active; we’re writing, debating, laughing, listening, creating, supporting, and developing new material together to reach our shared goals for our students.
We too have sat through our share of passive PD/grocery list-making sessions.
We owe it to our students, and to ourselves as education professionals, to take engagement seriously.
Here’s to a week of learning that is engaging and meaningful - for everyone.