The following finding by Levin, Belfield, Muenning, and Rouse (2006) struck a chord with me; the best predictor of health, wealth, and happiness in later life in not school achievement, but the number of years of schooling. Our students need to stay engaged! “Close to 25 percent of youth who enter Canadian high schools do not graduate within the standard twelve years of schooling.” (Dunleavy & Milton, 2010, p. 5). This is detrimental for not only the student, but for his/her community. How can we help teenagers make good choices about staying in school?
I have had the privilege of working with colleagues this year on a shared vision of instructional excellence. This group is deeply committed to learning. Why is this work imperative? Our students are entitled to high-quality schools and instructional excellence is an essential component. “School leaders need to drive change, taking on new, collaborative roles and using inventive thinking to integrate the emerging “science of learning” into their school systems.” (Metri Group, 2003, p. 11). Are we ready to “do school differently” and strive for engaging students socially, academically and intellectually?
Student engagement is not easy to measure or teach (Parsons & Taylor, 2011). “We need to extend its potential as a powerful construct for engaging both students and teachers in the transformation of schools and classrooms into places of effective teaching and deep learning.” (Dunleavy & Milton, 2010, p. 6). Where to start? The literature says relationships. “…respectful relationships and interaction – both virtual and personal – are essential to improve student engagement.” (Dunleavy & Milton, 2010, p. 7). Intuitively, teachers know relationships are at the core and research supports this notion. Schools are to be places of deep learning and engaging students will not be easily achieved. Yet this is what teachers happily strive for their entire careers.
Dunleavy, J. & Milton, P. (2010). Student engagement for effective teaching and deep learning. Canadian Education association, 48(5), 4-8. Retrieved from: http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/student-engagement-effective-teaching-and-deep-learning
Metri Group (2003). enGauge 21st century skills: Literacy in the Digital age. 1-88. Retrieved from: http://pict.sdsu.edu/engauge21st.pdf
Parsons, J., & Taylor, L. (2011). Student engagement: What do we know what should we know? University of Alberta, 1-59. Retrieved from: http://education.alberta.ca/media/6459431/student_engagement_literature_review_2011.pdf