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Student Engagement – Is it the key?

February 16, 2018

Engagement

As a district, we have focused on increasing student engagement as a strategy to enhance and deepen learning.  The premise is that engaged learners not only retain more but also develop an enjoyment related to the learning process.  We feel that the ability to learn is the key to success in life.  The world is moving at such a fast pace that it is unrealistic for educational leaders to assume that we know the challenges students may face,  or the knowledge that our students will need as they grow into adults, seek sustainable employment and navigate their lives.

While we may not yet be aware of what jobs will exist in the next twenty years, we do know what employers value in their employees. Soft skills are as necessary as academic acumen. Therefore, it is critically important that all students develop the essential skills (such as those in the Learner Profile/Compass student attributes) to be successful and productive adults.  At the center of this is the ability to learn. Their ability to see themselves as learners and to enjoy the process is likely to be proportional to the levels of success they will able to achieve.  

So, what are high-impact practices that help engage learners? How do we know when we see an engaged learner? Edutopia suggests that building a sense of community in the classroom helps younger students develop confidence. With that confidence, students are more apt to speak up and show curiosity for the content. Further, carefully planned, intentional lessons serve to engender that curiosity and the desire to know more. Thus, students begin to ask the questions that guide their learning and instill a love of learning.

Throughout the Saline Area Schools, at every grade level, we are focused on this: we want environments where students do most of the talking and thinking. We want ALL student voices heard, not just a select few. We want appropriate levels of enthusiasm for the content and lesson.  In the end, we want our students to have a voice and a choice. All of this is an orchestrated effort to maximize engagement and instill lifelong learning.

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