Let Them Speak: Increasing Student Engagement in the Classroom

Today, more than ever, teachers struggle to keep students engaged and focused in the classroom.  And with little doubt, this has to do with the increasing amount of technology and other various options at their disposal. For instance, on one student’s device, they can simultaneously play their favorite game, text a friend, and look up the latest scores for their favorite sports team.  So how can we engage these students and keep them involved in our activities?  The growing response to this concern is to focus on the individualization of instruction, gauging a particular students’ strengths, needs, and interests, and charting a personal course for them.  However, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every class period, and we do not need the latest technology to keep our students engaged either.  We need to listen to the voices that come into our classrooms every day, and put more power back in the hands of the students themselves.  This can be accomplished with three simple words- reflect, revise, and relinquish- and it will make a significant difference in the quality of our classrooms.

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Why Teach?

I was always destined to teach.  For me, the title was optional, I just always felt the need to help others in some way.  As a child, I always wanted to be a super hero, engrossed in comic books that depicted exploits of men and women far more amazing than I, and the battles they encountered every day to make the world a better place.  To me, this sounded incredible- saving the world seemed like a very enticing career choice, if only I could leap buildings, soar through the air, or pick up trains without breaking a sweat…  However this also felt slightly unrealistic, as I quickly learned that I did not possess any of these special talents beyond ‘reading quickly’, ‘eating without gaining weight’, or ‘waking up early’, and those felt like pretty lame super abilities.  Very early on, I decided that even if I wasn’t specially gifted with a superhuman faculty, I still wanted to help others in some way- but how? Continue reading