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?