Classroom Management: Managing with Class

Thanks so much for coming back to my series on classroom management. The majority of content is coming from my guest posters so make sure to check out their blogs as a way of saying thank you!

From the results of my classroom management poll, 88% of voters chose student engagement to be the most effective way to keep a class under control. I thought it interesting that no one chose the option of creative lesson plans/projects. It raises a good point: creative content does not necessarily mean the students are engaged- or learning.

How do we keep students engaged?

The million dollar question will be answered today by Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) of Angela Maiers Educational Services, Inc. She is a former teacher and is currently an independent educational consultant from Iowa. She started writing a blog because 'Teachers need to be great learners to lead great learners. I believe that learning is a lifelong journey, an ongoing exploration and way of life. I challenge myself and others to always be striving to find and share big ideas in every million dollar conversation.' [Notice I said million dollar, she said million dollar...Great minds think alike!]

So, here it goes: 26 Keys to Student Engagement.

Authenticity: We are more motivated to learn if we see a clear connection to the purpose and use. If our desire is for students to engage, the work they do must be significant, valuable, and real.

Brain: Every school day changes the brain in some way. We can influence and ignite that change when we understand the way the brain learns, and act accordingly.

Collaborative: Collaborating with others in solving problems or mastering difficult materials prepares students to deal with the messy, unscripted problems they will encounter in life. If they have opportunities to engage and explore topics, assignments, and content in a collaborative way, understanding and engagement are natural outcomes.

Disengagement: Students are sometimes labeled as lazy, unmotivated, off-task, and disrespectful. These behaviors can and often are a direct result of disengagement. When learning involves wondering, dreaming, playing, interacting, communicating, exploring, discovering, questioning, investigating, creating - the disengaged become engaged.

Environment: The decisions we make -- from the arrangement of furniture to the feeling students experience -- greatly influence conditions of learning.

Feedback: Feedback that is specific, nonthreatening, and frequent changes performance, attitude, and behaviors. So, the next time we say, "good job", we must follow that with, "...and here's why!"

Generative: Generative learning is the active process of process of linking, sharing, re-creating, and co-creating. Engagement comes about when we encourage learners to construct and produce knowledge in meaningful ways by providing experiences and learning environments that promote active, collaborative learning.

Habitudes: Successful people learn to be successful because they develop specific attitudes and behaviors to ensure their success in all aspects of life. We can teach students the specific habits of preparedness, mindfulness, and persistence to use and apply when engaging in any task, challenging or otherwise.

Joy: If we want a better class of thinkers and innovators -- people with explosive curiosity and creativity, we need to bring FUN back into our classrooms. We need giggles and laughter, enthusiasm and excitement. School can become a place remembered for the love of learning.

Kaizen: Kaizen is the Japanese term for "continuous improvement", a concept we should take to heart if we want students to achieve their personal and professional best. Small changes, if done every day,can make a big impact over time. Continuous improvement can only be achieved with continuous reflection. And with continuous reflection, students will become more and more engaged in their growth and learning.

Listening: Both learning to listen and listening to learn are critical to literacy in the 21st century. Listening is a powerful and essential means of developing and mastering both old and new literacies. In any culture or community, listening first will earn the right to be listened to.

Motivation: Motivation is essential to learning at all ages. Students have the primary responsibility to own their own learning, yet we have a shared responsibility in the task. The environments we foster, the cultures we contribute to, even the aura of a classroom, all make a difference.

Networks: One of my mantras is Together we are Smarter. Students are connected to friends and family outside the classroom; creating a network inside the school makes sense too: schoolmates can become brain mates.

Outside: We must bring and allow some of the their outside life into the classroom. If we can identify the engaging and creative ways they do their work outside of school and find ways to bring that into the classroom, students may start to see that school is not such a bad place after all.

Participatory: We know community begins within ourselves. Encouraging participation fosters engaged student body. Engaged learning is active; it is hands-on, minds on, eyes on, and demands participation at all levels.

Questions: Questions that stretch student minds, invite curiosity, provoke thinking, and instill a sense of wonder, keep students engaged.

Relationships: To grow 'em you must know 'em. Knowing our students seems obvious, yet many students claim that we do not "get" them. When students feel valued, honored, and respected, there is an interest and energy in the process of learning that reaches far beyond the content we teach.

Self Efficacy: Students with a strong sense of efficacy are more likely to challenge themselves with difficult tasks and be intrinsically motivated. These students will put forth a high degree of effort in order to meet their commitments, and attribute failure to things which are in their control, rather than blaming external factors. Self-efficacious students also recover quickly from setbacks, and ultimately are likely to achieve their personal goals.

Teacher (as student): Students see the teaching part of our persona every day. Do we stand before them as learners? What would that do to engagement, if we shared with students how we came to know, how we faced and conquered learning challenges, and most importantly how we can help them do the same?

A wise saying goes, "Seek first to understand and demonstrate that understanding before seeking to be understood." How do we demonstrate to our students that we understand and value them; in our words, with our actions, and by our expectations?

Variety: Variety adds spice to life and to our teaching. No matter how gifted a teachers you are, using the same method to teach each class can become monotonous- for you and the students.

WWW: The information super highway. It is not only the pathway learners in the 21st century seek out and locate information. It is a place where we engage in the creation of content and understanding.

Xtra: I have heard educators say that there is no time for engagement, there is too much content to cover. Giving kids time to collaborate, create, talk, and reflect is just Xtra work. Can we turn "Xtra" into "Xpectation", so engagement is no longer an option, it becomes an expectation?

You: This alphabet list of student engagement from A to Z will only become alive if you take these thoughts and ideas and put them into practice — did you notice the only thing missing from the Corporate Alphabet picture at the start of this article was “U”? What letter is missing from this list? I. It takes U and I. Engaged learning requires leadership. As a leader, U can coach, model, mentor and support our colleagues in the process of creating and sustaining engaging classrooms.

Zeal: Energy and enthusiasm are contagious. One of the best compliments I ever received from a student, "I did not really like the topic you were presenting on, but you were so excited, I couldn't help but pay attention!" When we show kids our zeal and passion for what we believe in, we welcome them to share their own. Love what you do, and present it with zeal everyday! Even if it is the 100th time you have presented it, remember it is the first for these students!

As you can see, student engagement is as simple as ABC. What are your keys to engaging your students?

I edited this for space but go here for the full article. For tons more information add her on Twitter or check out some of these articles [some of my personal favorites]:

Mini Lesson - Teaching the Habitude of Curiosity
Many "Views" of Parent Involvement
Personal Branding and Education - Thoughts on "Me 2.0"
Classroom Habitudes Lesson: Courage - The Fear Gradient

Keep up the clicking and come back tomorrow for Part 3!

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