Planning for Engagement

(Inspired by today’s ACPS Tech Plan conversation w/the DART Advisory Committee.)

As a teacher, anytime I ran into reluctant learners in the classroom, I started to think: “Did I plan for engagement?  Did I strategically include engaging qualities in my plan for their learning?”  Similarly, I’m drawn to the same qualities when thinking about those teachers who may be reluctant to try out new technology tools in meeting their students’ needs.

Below are those 8 qualities that our county uses as ‘look-fors’ in work that promotes student engagement.  Next to those qualities, I’ve written a few questions related to a teacher’s perspective in learning something new that leaders might consider so as to “plan for engagement:”

  • Personal Response – Do teachers have their own voice in the learning process?
  • Clear/Modeled Expectations – Do teachers know what their leaders, colleagues and students expect of me in terms of their learning?  Do they really know what it looks like to use this tool well?  Have they seen it?
  • Emotional/Intellectual Safety – Are teachers in an environment where they feel safe to try something new, to take a risk without feeling as if failure in that attempt will cause them harm?
  • Affiliation – Do teachers have opportunities to learn collaboratively with others?
  • Sense of Audience – Are teachers expected to share evidence of their learning with others outside of the classroom?  Outside of the school?
  • Choice – Are teachers able to choose what it is that they are interested in learning, or how, when, and/or with whom they are interested in learning it?  Are teachers able to choose how to show that they have learned it?
  • Novelty & Variety – Is the process of learning this tool set up in an interesting, unexpected or unusual way?
  • Authenticity – Are teachers learning this new tool in a way that mirrors what it will look like to use it with my students?

What’s going around in my head is: in answering any of these questions above related to tech learning opportunities, how many of those “reluctant learners” teachers would respond, “No”? How many would say things like: “I don’t have a voice.” “I’m not allowed to choose.” “It’s not safe to try something new.” “I don’t know what’s expected of me.” In leading the work, have we planned for engagement? If not, how about we get started now?

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One thought on “Planning for Engagement

  1. Tony, Dr. Jim Garver and I have discovered in our own practice working with teachers that it takes a very deliberate, strategic planning protocol to make sure we have included these in our training activities. While it is not necessary (in truth it is impossible and unmanageable) to include all of the qualities in any given activity, you are certainly right that these qualities must be woven throughout the whole training endeavor if we expect adults to experiment, much less embrace the practice at hand. While planning "forward" or strategically with the qualities in mind, I find a reflective approach helps "book-end" my planning–I look back at my written training plan to inspect for the inclusion of the qualities. If I’m missing one or two, i may need to revise my "learning design". – Keep up the good work, John Antonetti

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