Learner Engagement

When asking teachers and administrators what they want help improving, we often hear student engagement. “Students aren’t motivated” or “they get bored and check out” are some phrases teachers voice especially when feeling like a district pacing guide or recommendations from the textbook company means no freedom to engage students during direct instruction beyond what’s written.

A few strategies can be implemented into classroom routines and into a teacher’s toolbox without deviating from important instructional minutes.  Consider teaching students (and adults for that matter) about engagement using Amy Barry’s continuum of learning behaviors. Then they can self-reflect before and after instruction to consider what worked for them and how to be more engaged in subsequent lessons. Learn more about this strategy from Douglas Fisher on Central Rivers AEA Learning On-demand.

This slide used with permission from Corwin, Douglas Fisher presentation October 2023

A teacher can also embed tried and true strategies throughout direct instruction that ask students to participate cognitively (reflection and think time), emotionally (awareness of how I’m feeling right now) and socially (talk to partner/group to process ideas). Consider these 60 second strategies from Edutopia to keep in your educator toolbox as a way to engage learners.

In addition, a teacher’s planning in chunks helps embed engagement. Break segments of the lesson into 10-15 minute segments. Within each segment, students should have a chance to engage (cognitively, emotionally, socially) at least once every 3-5 minutes. This can be a question posed to the whole group where students think about an answer (randomly call on students by using dice, spinners or popsicle sticks so anyone could be called on), draw a picture, scribble a phrase or quick note to themselves, or engage in a think-pair-share. It doesn’t have to take a long time and it will give formative information for instructional decisions as well.

Central Rivers AEA supports teacher leaders with a network and coaching supports that help implement engagement strategies. Our consultants deliver professional learning embedding engagement strategies into content area learning as well. Reach out to a regional administrator or consultant to learn more.