What Does Student Engagement Look Like?

boredEngagement, as a condition that exists in the classroom, is not always easily defined.  To steal a quote from Justice Potter Stewart when describing something hard to define: “I know it when I see it.” There is a certain energy in a classroom of engaged students.  There is movement, chatter, discussion, disagreement, and no one person is the center of attention.  We can say all we want about student centered learning, but until we realize that students want to be in charge of their own learning, we are going to have a hard time engaging them.  Do not get me wrong, we have to guide, persuade, sell, and curate their direction, but learners want to be actively involved in the lesson.  So many times I walk down the halls at PHS and notice the varied degrees of active student learning.  When students are not passively listening or completing desk work, they are much more involved….engaged.  I can watch the same student in various classes and see the difference an active classroom has.  The engaged class is not waiting for the bell to ring, they are disappointed that it does.  The challenge for teachers is to make the content available in an active exercise.  In an engaging classroom students interact with information, resources, each other, and perhaps the world at large instead of being dependent on a text or the teacher for their learning.

Photo courtesy of Roobee’s Flickr Photostream

One thought on “What Does Student Engagement Look Like?

  1. Thanks so much for pointing out the importance of emotional and intellectual safety in a classroom. As a provider of world language curriculum, we’ve found that even students who are usually confident in other subjects can become terrified to participate in class while learning a second language for fear of sounding stupid or saying something (or pronouncing something) incorrectly.

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