So many places you can go and so many different directions you can take with just those two words, but how do you know where to start? One challenge for us at the end of the last school year was to look at ways to increase student engagement… okay. Again, where do you start? Is that not what we all try to do anyway? If we are truly looking at “student” engagement, doesn’t that mean the student has to buy in and do the engaging? Do we really need to look at student engagement or the engagement strategies we use as teachers?
I do not think it is the teaching strategies, though I know there are ways I can improve this in my classroom and I am constantly working on this, revamping and revising. I really think it comes down to if the students are ready to receive the information and engage. If they are not in the right mindset or not ready, rarely is your strategy going to be successful no matter what it is you are doing. Sometimes things happen outside of our classrooms that our students cannot control and we cannot control. These outside factors affect our students’ readiness to engage and in turn their ability to learn.
This summer I watched a few videos and read some articles related to gratitude and the power of having a more grateful mindset. One of the videos I watched was a Ted Talk by Dr. Kerry Howells, “How Thanking Awakens Our Thinking.”
This video got me thinking, what if we let students vent a little before we started teaching? What if they had a chance to get rid of whatever may be preventing them from engaging in learning that day? Could we help them be more grateful for the positives in their life? Would any of this have an effect on their level of engagement in the classroom?
This is part of the basis for my action research this school year. Students will journal and let out what is stopping them from engaging in school and then write down something for which they are grateful. I will then look at if student engagement improves after they journal.
I anticipate there will be some growing pains as students begin this process, but my hope is that as we continue with this the students will become more comfortable over time and honestly reflect on their mindset. From there the goal is that they will have a more positive outlook, which will improve their level of engagement in school, and produce a more positive and productive classroom.
Twitter Chat Questions Tuesday, October 9th:
Q1: What factors prevent your students from engaging during class?
Q2: Name a strategy that you have found useful in helping increase student engagement.
Q3: How can we encourage a positive mindset in our students?
Q4: How can we help our students “thank” before they start thinking?
Q5: What are you thankful for today?