I’m Engaged!

Sep 25, 2016

Now that the start of school is in our rearview mirror, teachers must closely examine instructional practices. Around this time, attention spans begin to wane, and interest in routine assignments drops. This can be a breeding ground for poor behavior if levels of engagement and appropriateness of activities aren’t monitored. As the novelty of a new school year wears off, the focus shifts to the content and way in which it is presented.

The learning brain naturally engages when it is appropriately challenged. As teachers, our job is to capitalize on this inherent instinct. This is easier to do when children are younger if we build on their natural sense of joy and wonder. Unfortunately, as students move through the grade levels, too often routine tasks become predictable, and the brain checks out, shifting into autopilot mode. It’s hard to pay attention when not engaged (as evidenced by your habitual drive to work each day.)

Project-based differentiated assignments highlighting student interests can go a long way in captivating attention. Not every task can be super engaging, but worksheets, repetitive assignments, and busy work invite misbehavior. Avoid this pitfall by following the lead of students, providing choices, and resisting the urge to spend long periods of time in direct teach mode. I’d elaborate, but as the novelty of this post fades, I know your brain can only attend for so long. Happy Sunday.

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