Posted by: jockmackenzie | February 11, 2010

Student Engagement – Part 1

Why is this student so engaged?

In an effort to promote “student engagement,” I believe a number of strategies are important:

– take and share pictures of engaged students

– get out of your classroom

– ask for student input

– celebrate successes

– involve parents

– involve role models

– call on student strengths

– share results

– actively involve students

– maximize class time

– emphasize “improvement”

I have used this list as the outline for one of my teacher convention sessions (creatively titled – “Student Engagement”). As they say, “The devil is in the details.”, so it is, perhaps, the explanation of each item in the list above that will prove more helpful. For today, let’s consider the first item – Take and share pictures of engaged students.

• who should/could take the pictures is an important consideration. Wherever I was, either as a teacher or administrator, I enjoyed taking pictures. It became a habit. I learned later to include students as part of the photography corps – especially students who I thought would benefit from the experience. Often a student who was not too involved in sports, the arts, or other school activities had the availability. Peers who might not have given my student photographer the time day under ordinary circumstances were clamoring to get him/her to notice them and take pictures.

• mounting the pictures on smaller backgrounds and in various places throughout the school makes it a lot easier for a variety of people to see the pictures. In our large middle school, the photos of grade 6’s could be posted upstairs in the Grade Six hallway, maximizing viewing.

• mounting the pictures so they could fairly easily be removed is a good idea. This way the pictures can be given away to someone in the picture – a double win.

• use of pictures in school-wide presentations, year-end celebrations, or in newsletters was appreciated by a large audience. Knowing that an entire grade would be brought together to view photos for the year made it more important to get everyone’s picture.

• a number of our school photos were sent – and published – in our teachers’ association’s provincial newspaper. Extra copies were collected and given to anyone involved with the picture – taking it, doing the write-up, or being in it.

• the possibilities are endless: send to the local paper, share with the school board, keep in a hard copy collection or electronic history, . . .

•  some of the least “engaged” students are photo hogs. My thinking that merely being at school is engagement enough for me . . . and I took their pictures.

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